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Common Woodworking Terms for Furniture

Woodworking Tools and Terminology



Beaded Wood

Wood Beading Strips

A bead is a woodworking decorative treatment applied to various elements of wooden furniture, boxes and other items.

A bead is typically a rounded shape cut into a square edge to soften the edge and provide some protection against splitting. Beads can be simple round shapes, or more complex patterns.


Countersink Countersunk Screw

Countersinking is used also to get the head of the screw flush with, or below, the surface of the wood.


Dovetail Wood Joint

A dovetail joint, or simply dovetail is a joinery technique used in furniture and cabinets. Noted for its resistance to being pulled apart, the dovetail joint is commonly used to join the sides of a drawer to the front. A series of 'pins' cut to extend from the end of one board interlock with a series of 'tails' cut into the end of another board. The pins and tails have a trapezoidal shape. Once glued, a wooden dovetail joint requires no mechanical fasteners. In Europe the dovetail joint is sometimes called a swallowtail, a culvertail, or a fantail joint


Doweling is a cylindrical length of wood used for making joints by inserting a length into two corresponding holes and gluing with clamp pressure.  Dowels add strength and alignment benefits to what is normally considered a weak joint.


wood grain

The grain in wood is one of its most attractive features, however it can also make it difficult to work with. Because of the way that wood grows, every piece of timber has a clear grain direction, which appears differently depending on how the board is sawn.

Technically ‘wood grain’ refers to the alignment, texture and appearance of wood fibres, whereas it’s ‘figure’ describes the pattern created by the grain orientation.


knot in wood

The remains of a branch in timber. A branch sawn off close to the trunk or shed naturally forms a sound or live knot. A broken branch stub that becomes surrounded by new growth produces a loose or dead knot in the timber.  These knots can be seen if the timber is used in making furniture.



A pattern of inlaid veneers that usually consists of thin pieces of wood or other material, such as base metal, shell or ivory that are glued to a wooden backboard for decoration.

Mitre Joint

mitre joint in wood

A traditional joint that hides edge grain. The mitre joint can be tricky to cut perfectly and align during glue-up. When used in a long-grain-to-long-grain application, the strength of the joint is very good, while a short-grain-to-short-grain application offers very little strength.


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