air compressor

A device that build up air pressure that other devices (such as nail guns) can use to do a job.

biscuit joiner

A tool used primarily when edge-joining boards, but can be useful for other kinds of joinery as well.

combination square

A tool used to check for 90-degree angles, 45-degree angles, and that also contains a ruler.

compound miter saw

A saw that can cut complex cross-cut angles, as required when cutting crown molding, with the lumber laying flat on the saw's table.

cope cut

The carpentry trick in which the end of one molding is cut to fit against the contour of the adjoining piece.

cross cut

Cutting a board against its grain.


A slot cut into a board to accept and support another board. For example, the vertical sides of a shelf often have dado slots cut into them that support the horizontal shelf lumber.

detail sander

A tool used to perform the final sanding before the work piece is ready for finishing. Often shaped to help sand in hard-to-reach places.


A strong, stylish joint when constructing corners. Dovetails are often seen in drawer construction, but can be used when forming any corner. There are several varieties of dovetails--through, half blind, and sliding.


To glue the edges of boards together in order to make wider boards.


A surface on a tool (such as a table saw or router table) that the lumber is pressed against. This allows you to accurately control the distance from the edge of the lumber to the tool's blade.

finger board

A board with slots cut into it, making it flexible. The fingers are then pressed against the board as it runs through a router table, table saw, jointer, etc. in order to keep the board pressed against the tool's fence and table.


A web page you can use to share your thoughts with me, and read the thoughts others have left for me.


A tool used to help perform a specific task. For example, a sled jig helps perform cross cuts on a table saw.


A tool used to flatten boards. You can use a jointer on both the edges and the flat surfaces of a board.


The width of a saw blade's cut.

miter cut

Cross cutting a board at an angle other than square to the long edge of a board.

miter gauge

A device used to push lumber across a tool's blade (for example, a table saw) when cross cutting, and when it wouldn't be practical/safe to use the tool's fence.

mobile base

A wheeled base that lets you roll heavy tools easily.


The hole created when building a mortise and tenon joint.


A tool that puts a smooth surface on a board. That surface will be parallel to the opposite surface. So if a board is warped, the smooth surface will also be warped. Use a jointer to flatten one surface before planing the opposite surface.


A hard, non-porous, protective top coat material that is brushed onto a piece after construction, sanding, and staining.


A tool that will check for variable angles, usually from 0 degrees to 180 degrees.


A groove, similar to a dado, but that is cut along the edge of a board. For example, rabbets are often cut along the inside-back edges of a work piece to accept the back panel lumber.

raise the grain

Wetting a board will raise its grain. When you then sand the board, the grain is less dense and will take stain more darkly than if the grain hadn't been raised.

random orbit sander

A sander with a round pad that spins in a circle while the whole pad moves in an oval loop. As a result, the abrasive particles on the sandpaper don't follow the same path twice, leaving a scratch-free surface even when sanding across the grain.


Cutting a board with its grain.

rip fence

A surface on a table saw that the lumber is pressed against. This allows you to accurately control the distance from the edge of the lumber to the table saw's blade.

rough-cut lumber

Lumber as it comes from the saw mill, without having been surfaced with a planer or jointer.


Routers are great for cutting an edge profile on a piece, for cutting dado slots, and much more.

router table

A table or cabinet into which a router is mounted upside down. A router table provides a router with the advantages of a table, fence, miter slot, and often a vacuum connection.


A reduction in thickness toward the end of a board after running it through a planer or jointer. Usually the result of improperly configured in-feed and out-feed tables on the tool.


When two surfaces create a 90-degree angle, those two surfaces are square. Also, a tool used to check for squareness is called a square.


Pigment that is applied to lumber to change its color.

stopped dado

A dado that doesn't go all the way from one edge of a board to the other--it stops before reaching the board's edge.

table saw

Perhaps the most important tool in the woodworker's shop, the table saw is used for ripping boards, cross-cutting boards, cutting dado slots, and many other tasks.


When cutting near the edge of a board (as when beginning or ending a cross cut or dado cut on a table saw, or when using router near the edge of a board), and extra wood pieces break off the board that you didn't want to remove.


The tongue that is inserted into the mortise when building a mortise and tenon joint.