Recently, I have been researching woodworking concepts and terminology. Of course, woodworking, like many other activities, is best learned through experience. However, I'm trying to get a basic understanding of its unique vocabulary and basic principles prior to actually beginning any projects.

I'm interested in both small woodcarving projects and larger woodworking projects. I think that woodworking would be a rewarding hobby, possibly financially rewarding as well as spiritually rewarding, if I become good enough at it.

I've learned thus far about different types of wood and its properties, joinery techniques and vocabulary, common woodworking tools, the lumber industry and some basic wood cuts.



Hardwood: Hardwood refers to wood that is derived from mostly deciduous trees, specifically trees that reproduce by dropping a covered seed. It does not necessarily mean that the wood is actually harder than wood derived from a softwood tree. The grain patter in hardwood trees tends to be more coarse than that of the mostly close-grained softwood trees, however hardwoods can be close grained also, depending on the size of its pores. The smaller the pores on the surface, the closer the grain of the wood. Cherry and maple are hardwoods that are relatively close grained. A common ring porous, or coarse grained hardwood tree, is the oak tree.

Softwood: Softwood refers to wood that is harvested from a coniferous, usually evergreen tree, which reproduce by spreading seed via cones. The reproduction method of softwood trees tends to result in thicker and faster growth, allowing wood from softwood trees to be harvested more plentifully and resulting in a supply of softwood that generally keeps its price lower than that of hardwood. The grain of a softwood tree tends to be closer, and therefore its grain is generally not as noticeable in a finished product as the grain of a hardwood tree. A common softwood tree is the pine tree. Softwood lumber is the primary wood used for home construction framing.

Closed Grain:

Tight Grain: Not the same as closed grain. Tight grain woods are denser than other woods.

Pith-This is the center of the tree, running the length of the trunk.
Heartwood-This is wood that was, at one time, sapwood, but as the tree added new layers of sapwood, this wood became heartwood. It is located between the pith and the sapwood.
Sapwood-This is wood of the tree that is located near the bark, and transfers sap from the root to the branches and leaves.

Plywood-a piece of manufactured board that is constructed by glueing several pieces of thin wood (veneer) together. Plywood is made strong by alternating the grain pattern of each veneer layer. Plywood is generally sold in 4x8' panels.

Structural Softwood Lumber-most lumber used in construction of homes and buildings is softwood lumber. Many times, this lumber is not from a single species, but from a grouping of species with similar characteristics. Some of the major grouping examples are SPF (spruce-pine-fir), Hem-Fir, Douglas Fir-Larch and Southern Pine.

Types of Wood
Properties-softwood, close grained, relatively cheap, susceptible to knots
Common Uses-construction
Variations-white pine, southern pine (structural softwood lumber group), Ponderosa pine

Properties-hardwood, coarse, attractive grain pattern
Common Uses-furniture, hardwood floors
Variations-red oak(northern), white oak

Properties-hardwood, very close grained, no grain pattern visible when finished; sapwood is creamy white.
Common Uses-intricate detailed woodcarving; venitian blinds and shutters; furniture; musical instruments.

Common Uses-all purpose wood, including structural support, windows, doors and moldings
Variations-douglas fir, hem fir

Common Uses-

Common Uses-
Variations-hard maple, soft maple

Common Uses-

Common Uses-

Properties-hardwood, slow-growing tree; hardest, heaviest and strongest American wood; usually fine and straight grained.
Common Uses-cabinetry, furniture, tool handles, flooring, paneling, wooden ladders, dowels and sporting goods.
Variations-true hickories; pecan hickories (fruit bearing)

Woodworking Tools
Table Saw-
Circular Saw-
Miter Saw-
Jig Saw-
Scroll Saw-
Carving Knife-
Carving Gouge-either U shaped or V shaped.
Planer-used to achieve desired thickness.

Types of Wood Cuts
Rip Cut-a cut generally along the grain of the wood, usually used to cut a piece of wood to the desired width.
Cross Cut-a cut generally against the grain of the wood, usually used to cut a piece of wood to the desired length.
Bevel Cut-

Types of Wood Joints
General Information-Wood joints can be attached with several joiners, including various screws, nails, bolts, dowels and glue.
Butt Joint-
Rabbett Joint-
Dado Joint-
Biscuit Joint-
Finger Joint-
Tongue & Groove Joint-
Mortise & Tenon Joint-
Lap Joint-
Half Blind Dovetail Joint-
Dovetail Joint-

General Terminology and Definitions
Board Feet-a board foot is a three dimensional lumber measurement. One board foot equals a one foot square pice of wood that is one inch thick. The formula to calculate board feet is to multiply height x length x width, and divide the product by 12 to get board feet expressed in inches.
Green Wood-
Kiln Dried Wood-
Surfaced Wood-S2S is wood that comes pre-surfaced on two sides, S3S is wood that comes pre-surfaced on three sides and S4S is wood that comes pre-surfaced on four sides.
Line Carving-
Relief Carving-


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