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Common Woodworking Terms You Need to Know

There are literally dozens of woodworking terms you should know if you are going to get into woodworking. It helps you understand building and construction plans, as well as the names for tools and building materials. The following is just a small sample of the common woodworking terms you need to know.
Sawing: Sawing includes ANY action in which a blade cuts through wood or another material. It includes table saws, circular saws, hacksaws, reciprocating saws, hand saws and straight saws, all of which have sharp cutting blades to perform this action.

Planing: Planing is the act of running a horizontal plane chisel over a surface with the intention of making that surface both level and smooth. It is an excellent technique to use when you have some wood that is warped or bent.

Chiseling: Chiseling removes slices and chunks of material from whatever you are working on. It utilizes hand tools called chisels, and in woodworking, you use only wood chisels to complete the job. There are also stone and marble chisels, but you would never use these in woodworking. Chisels are also used in conjunction with lathes.

Lathes and Turning on a Lathe: Lathes are machines that spin pieces of wood, either on a vertical or horizontal axis. In amateur wood shops, the lathes almost always turn on a horizontal axis. Turning wood on a lathe is intended to hold wood in place while spinning very rapidly. Typically, chisels are used to create 360=degree patterns in the wood as it turns on the lathe.

Drill Press: A drill press is a unique, free-standing power tool that acts as a drill, but the weights in the head of the press apply additional pressure in order to bore through harder woods. Different weights in the head of the drill press, along with the power belt, aid in creating different results. A rotary arm activates the press and causes it to move downward toward the wood. This should not be confused with a power hand drill or a manual drill.
Metric and Standard: These are two forms of measurement. Standard measurement measures feet, inches and yards and is used almost singularly by the U.S. Metric relies on the metric system, which measures things in centimeters, meters, decimeters, etc., and is used in almost all the rest of the world. Tools and fasteners come in both metric and standard measurements, so it is extremely helpful to know what they are and how to convert them back and forth.

Dummy: A “dummy” is usually a slice of board or a push board used exclusively as a tool for pushing lumber through a circular saw. It prevents major slicing accidents by removing your fingers and hands from the table as you guide the last few inches of a board through a table saw. You can buy a pre-made table saw dummy, or make your own.

Carpenter’s Ruler: A carpenter’s ruler is a long ruler, often painted white with black measurement increments on it. It folds up like an accordian and then folds back out to measure things. It is considered to be more reliable than a retractable metal ruler, but if you are not careful with it you can break off pieces as you fold it in and out.

Rubber Mallet: This is like a hammer, but you should never refer to it as such. The rubber mallet is often larger, heavier and denser than the standard metal-headed hammer because of the super-thick, barrel-shaped rubber head. It helps “hammer” things into place without damaging the more delicate materials underneath its strike plate.

Vice or Vice Grips: A vice consists of two steel face plates set on edge and attached to a screw-like base. A handle turns and the faceplates come together to compress whatever is between the faceplates. It is often used to squeeze objects together, stabilize the materials you are planing or chiseling and even hold things together until the wood glue has dried and secured two objects to each other.
Face Shield: A face shield is an absolute must for anyone in woodworking. It consists of a flip-down visor shield that fully protects your face from sawdust and flying bits of wood. Without it, wood chips could puncture your eyes, cut your face or leave it bare to other wood shop dangers.

Drawshave: Heavy steel blade that has a very sharp cutting edge. The drawshave is held on opposite ends and dragged across a very large piece of wood to create shingles. It may not be a tool you use that often, but at least you now know what it is.

Jigsaw: A special saw traditionally used to create jigsaw puzzles. The reciprocating blade creates just about any sort of very unusual cut. It is considered a very valuable shop tool for any woodworker who wants to create more unique projects.