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Woodworking Glossary

Half blind dovetail

There is a phrase in Spanish called “media naranja,” which literally translates to “half orange.” I don’t speak Spanish, so being called this for the first time meant nothing to me. Then I found out what it really meant. It’s a colloquialism for “other half.” So instead of being referred to as someone’s “other half,” some people say “half orange.”

I bring this up for one reason. Foreign languages can be hard to learn. A quick Google search on why this is showed me that it is either because adults’ brains get harder or because aliens only allow certain people to learn more than one language. (Note: Google is sometimes not useful for real answers.)

Woodworking terms can be a foreign language to some. What is a rabbet, and does it eat carrots? Does a butt joint have a crack? OK, so maybe those aren’t real questions that woodworkers ask.

The problem with the real questions that woodworkers ask is that there wasn’t a place on our site to post answers (though we’ve always responded to individual questions from readers, and will continue to do so). I’m talking about a glossary on which we post answers to questions, and that the community helps to builds together, a glossary to which custom cabinet shops and basement furniture makers can both turn for information.

So for the past few weeks, we have been compiling that glossary. We have tried to include everything from types of glue to MDF (which is still the bane of my existence).

We haven’t had time to sit down and try to think of absolutely everything (though we’re adding stuff as time and inspiration allows), and of course, we have blind spots. Plus, we each have our own woodworking jargon, and can miss vital terms that just haven’t come up in our experiences.

That is why we are coming to you. If you see that our new glossary of woodworking terms has any glaring holes, send us an email and let us know what we missed.

You can find the Woodworking Glossary under the “Tools” menu on our site at any time, or you can simply click here…

—Jon Russelburg

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Showing 9 comments
  • DoctorJ

    The link on the site to send in suggestions (Shoot an email to doesn’t go to an email but to an FW webpage.

  • tms

    Well, My Old Man professed three levels of glue/caulk tenacity:
    Monkey Sh*t

    In increasing order of stickyness


    Looks very nice – I will definitely point folks new to woodworking here to learn the lingo. Now my pet peeve – you have nice illustrations on the page, and they pop out to a separate window when you click on them. The problem is the separate windows is the _exact same size_ as the original. So what’s the point? If they’re not going to be any larger, why have them pop out? If I want to look at a picture in more detail, it has to be larger than the original. The ferrule picture is particularly egregious in this regard.
    Keep up the good work!

  • amoscalie

    Of course then there are the things that we say that are not necessarily limited to woodworking. Such as when you inadvertently knock something off your workbench or hit your thumb with a hammer.

  • tsstahl

    Hmmm, missing skosh and smidge. 🙂

    More seriously, V-belt should rate an entry, or a broader explanation under link belt.

    I used to say anything less common than a doorknob, or more complicated than a toothpick will need ‘splaining to somebody. Although V-belt does not quite fit into this mold, it is pretty obscure to most folks. So, that is my little nitpick.

    Now, for my BIG nitpick: pop over ads? Seriously? Over a third of the screen real estate already used for ads isn’t enough? That will drive me away, or cause the use of adblocker plugin on the site.

    I like the content and appreciate the effort to produce it, so I explicitly leave the ads for this site alone. OK, I’m off the soapbox now.

  • Derrick

    Why not turn this into a Wikipedia like offering and allow all the PW readers to contribute directly?

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