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For our next educational series we have decided to work through some common carpentry terms. From timber and joint terms to cladding specific terms that might come up on your construction project. 


We had some interest in making Common Carpentry Terms series into a poster, so we have turned the first three parts in the series into a downloadable poster for you to print off and display in your home, office, or kids’ room! 

Work your way through the Common Carpentry Terms series below;

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We are kicking off our Common Carpentry Terms with tools. Carpentry requires skill and practice, but it also relies on having the right tools for the job. 


We have illustrated some of the basic tools a carpenter might use, you might even have some of these tools at home. This is not a comprehensive list, carpenters can use many more tools to perform their work. 

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As carpenters primarily work with timber we thought it would be good to introduce you to some common timber terms.


We often talk about timber species when helping our customers decide which timber will best suit their job. Different species look different and have different characteristics which might be more favourable such as grain pattern, colour and density. 


As you might have seen in our last series, Timber Production Process, trees are harvested and milled into timber boards. There are different ways to mill a log depending on the way you want the grain (growth rings) to look. We have illustrated the two most common ways to mill timber here. 


After timber has been milled and dressed it can be used in woodworking. Often timber is joined together or routed to achieve a particular result. We will go further into these terms next in the series. 


Finally, the timber is finished with a lacquer or similar to protect the timber or provide a desired colour or gloss to the finished project. We will explain the different types of finishes later in the series.

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Wood joinery is one of the most fundamental concepts in woodworking. There are many different types of joints that are used in different situations. We have illustrated some of the more common joints used in woodworking. 


The joint must be functional and provide strength. Some joints are stronger than others, generally the more difficult the joint is to make, the stronger it is. The majority of joints are primarily designed to hide the methods used to join the components together, such as the dowel joint. However, there are others – such as dovetails – that are made to form a decorative feature. 


Most joints also rely to a considerable extent on a combination of fasteners (nails and screws) and glue for their strength.

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A router is a hand tool or power tool used to make cuts, create edging, joinery and hollow out wood. Woodworking routers will have a range of attachments available, called router bits, which will give you different functionality to achieve different finishes. 


We have illustrated a few of the more common router finishes used in woodworking.

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There are a number of different finishes to choose from when using timber. We go through each of the illustrated finishes below;


Timber Oil permeates timber to bring out its natural characteristics and colours. It offers good protection from dirt and is resistant to water and alcohol so it can be used for interior and exterior purposes. It is particularly good for exterior timber cladding, due to its ability to prevent damage from moisture. However, oil is not particularly durable, so it needs to be reapplied periodically. 

Lacquer is a thin, highly durable finish that provides excellent protection against dirt, water, and many other substances. It’s very fast drying, meaning a shorter coating time. Downsides are that it is not very durable compared to other timber finishes. 


Varnish is a hard, protective finish that doesn’t cover the grain of the wood surface. It offers good protection against heat, water, alcohol, etc. and is resistant to impact. Varnish is a highly durable wood finishing option suitable for both interiors and exteriors. Except for the polyurethane type, varnish can become dull and yellow over time.


Wax is a translucent decorative finish often used for protection of timber and has the added advantage of dual uses: it can be used on its own or over the top of another finish. It is easy to apply and provides a great aesthetic look. One major attribute of wax is heat-resistance, and it can be combined with oil to give formidable protection, which is especially useful for hot or sunny regions. Wax is ideal for indoor use when used alone. On the other hand, wax offers short-term protection and needs frequent reapplication to maintain its true finish.


Shellac is a resin made from lac bugs and is one of the easiest finishes to apply. It dries quickly and can be applied by brushing or spraying. It polishes well and is quite durable. Unfortunately, shellac offers no protection from heat, water and alcohol (and other chemicals) as they can blemish the surface. Additionally, it absorbs moisture and is therefore not suitable for outdoor usage. Due to these drawbacks, it is most suitable for decorative items which are not susceptible to rigorous use.

Staining is a finishing method primarily used to enhance the natural colour of the wood. It soaks into the wood to give a decorative finish. It is used to darken or colour wood and is available in different types such as gloss, matte, etc. It is most suitable for interior use but can be used externally when combined with another finish for extra durability. Negatives: it is not water resistant and requires frequent recoating.

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We couldn't finish the series without talking about cladding (did you know most of our cladders are carpenters too?!). 


Rainscreen cladding systems are used to provide a natural, energy efficient method for cladding commercial and residential buildings. This cladding system protects the building from water infiltration and reduces the damaging effects of wind-driven rain and moisture. 


The multi-layered cladding system comprises the following;


1. An outer cladding layer – this is the primary barrier against rainwater penetration. Many different types of cladding can be used for this layer such as solid aluminium, fibre cement, tiles and timber. 


2. An air cavity which is protected by a proper roof flashing – this provided ventilation and helps to dissipate and moisture that may have penetrated the outer layer.


3. An air and moisture barrier – prevents any moisture inside the air cavity from penetrating the building substrate.

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