Glossary of terms

Words beginning with A


– A –

ABOVE-GRADE: The portion of a building that is above ground level. A term applied to any part of a structure or site feature that is above the adjacent finished, or intact, ground level.

ACTUAL SIZE: The finished (dressed) size as opposed to the nominal size of a piece of wood.

ARBOR: A shelter of vines or branches or of latticework covered with climbing shrubs or vines. A walk through Garden structure that can support plants and generally complements the landscape.

ASPHALT: A dark brown to black cementitious material in which the predominating constituents are bitumens, which occur in nature or are obtained in petroleum processing. Asphalt is a constituent in varying proportions of most crude petroleum and used for paving, roofing, industrial and other special purposes.

ASTRAGAL: Vertical member (molding) attached to a stile on one of a pair of doors (either sliding or swinging) against which the other door strikes against or closes to.

Words beginning with B

– B –

BARGE BOARD: Exterior visible flat trim board that follows the rake of the roof.

BATTEN: Narrow board used to cover cladding joins or used for decorative purposes.

BATTER BOARDS: Profiles; Horizontal boards attached level to stakes, used to mark out the boundary of a construction and establish the levels and building line.

BAY (WINDOW): A combination of three window units joined together that project outwards. The center unit is parallel to the wall and the two units each side are usually 45° or 90° (right angles) to the wall but can be any angle

BEADING: A finishing wood. Fits under the soffit lining and against the cladding.

BEAM: A supporting member.

BENCH SEAT: A seat that is lacking a divider. A long seat for two or more persons

BD: See BOARD

BF: See BOARD FOOT

BIRDHOUSE: Shelter for birds. Different species require different designs.

BLUE PRINTS: Architectural plans for a building or construction project, which are likely to include floor plans, footing and foundation plans, elevations, plot plans, and various schedules and or details. Reproduction of architectural drawings used by contractors and workers to guide the building process

BIRD’S MOUTH: The notch in a rafter that rests on the top plate of a wall.

BOARD: A piece of sawn, or dressed timber of greater width than thickness. Usually 19mm (3/4″) to 38mm (1 1/2″) thick and 75mm (3″) or more wide.

BOARD FOOT: A form of wood measurement, where one board foot equals the volume of a board 1 inch thick, 12 inches wide, and 12 inches long. A board foot is equal to 144 cubic inches of wood. FORMULA: (Thickness x Width x Length) / 144 = Board Feet

BOLT: A metal rod that has a head on one end and threads on the other and is used to fasten together lumber. The most common bolts used or referred to in projects within this website are coach/carriage bolts and hex bolts.

Coach/carriage bolts: are round headed bolts with square shoulders that resist rotation when located or driven into place. They can be called coach bolts or carriage bolts depending on which part of the world you live in. The head end of the bolt does not need a washer, but the other end of the bolt (the nut end) usually does.

Hex bolts: Hex bolts have a hexagonal shaped head (six sided) which enables a wrench or spanner to grip it. A washer is usually required at both ends of the bolt

BOTTOM PLATE: Wall plate, sole plate; The bottom horizontal framing member of the wall

BOX: Rough grade timber

BOX NAIL: Flat-headed nail, which is used on thin material in place of larger nails. Box nails have heads that are clearly visible after the nails have been driven. Box nails are the same length per penny size as common nails, but have slightly narrower shanks and heads

BRACE: To make rigid.

BRAD: Brad (nail) A small finishing nail up to 1″ long with a rounded head (brad head) for nail concealment.

BRIDGE: A structure that allows people or vehicles to cross an obstacle such as a river or pond or garden.

BT: Boric treated wood. For internal framing only

BUILDING LINE: The outline of a building.

Words beginning with C

– C –

CAMBIUM: A one-cell-thick layer of tissue between xylem (woody tissue) and phloem (sieve tubes, fibers, food-conducting tissue) in most vascular (sap carrying) plants that is responsible for secondary growth.

CANTILEVER: A structural member which has a free end projecting beyond its supporting wall or column; length of span overhanging the support. Any structural part of a building that projects beyond its support and overhang.

CARPORT: A roof that covers a driveway or other parking area, it does not have a door in the manner of a garage. A garage for one or two cars consisting of a flat roof supported on poles

CASING NAIL: Casing nails are used where the nail heads must be hidden. A casing nail has a small head and a smaller diameter than a common nail but is thicker than a finishing nail.

CAULK: To make watertight or airtight by filling or sealing. To apply caulking (example: he caulked all around the door frame)

CAULKING: A usually impermeable substance used for caulking. Also called caulking compound. A soft pliable material used to seal cracks (such as around windows and door frames) and is normally applied from a tube in a caulking gun.

CD: Ply wood. Defects one side. Filled and sanded one side.

CEMENT: A powdery type substance made from a mixture of earths materials such as limestone and shale, which is sintered (cause to become solid mass by heating without melting), ground, and mixed with small amounts of calcium sulphate and calcium carbonate. Cement is activated by water and when mixed with gravel and sand, forms concrete.

CEILING JOIST: A horizontal framing member to which ceiling linings are fixed.

CENTERS: Crs; O.C; Term used for spacing; The measurement of spacing for studs, rafters, and joists in a building from the center of one member to the center of the next.

CF: Chemical free

CGL: Common Grade Lumber. Lumber with obvious defects

CHAMFER: A beveled cut along the edge of a piece of wood

CLADDING UNDERLAY: A building paper that envelopes the exterior walls or roof frame prior to the cladding being fixed. Reduces air movement and helps avoid the risk of water ingress.

CLADDING: The exterior surface of a building.

CLEAT: A short horizontal member that ties opposing rafters together immediately below the ridge board.

CLEARS: Timber without Knots.

CLERESTORY: A window in the upper part of a lofty room, usually out of reach from the floor. An upper portion of a wall containing windows for supplying natural light to a building.

CLOUT (NAIL): A short nail with a large flat head used for securing roofing felt, plasterboard, sheet metal to wood etc.

COMMON NAIL: Common nails have heads that are clearly visible after the nails have been driven home. They are used for general construction such as wall framing or other such situations where appearance is not important

CONCRETE: A mixture of sand, gravel, water and cement which hardens to a stone like condition when dry.

C.O.S.: Call Out Size (C.O.S.). The nominal size of a window or door. The “name” of the size. The call out size is the outside window or door frame measurement. Example: A window that is 4ft wide and 4ft high (overall) would have a call out size of 4040.

CRIPPLE STUD: Short studs placed between the header / lintel and a top plate or between a sill and bottom plate.

CRS: See CENTERS.

CTL: Cut to length.

CURING: The hardening of concrete. The process of becoming hard or solid by cooling or drying or crystallization. In concrete application, the process in which mortar and concrete harden. The length of time is dependent upon the type of cement, mix proportion, required strength, size and shape of the concrete section, weather and future exposure conditions. The period may be 3 weeks or longer for lean concrete mixtures used in structures such as dams or it may be only a few days for richer mixes. Favorable curing temperatures range from 50 to 70 degrees F. Design strength is achieved in 28 days

Words beginning with D, E

– D –

D4S: Dressed 4 sides.

DECK: A flat floored roofless area adjoining a house. Timber deck: An outside floor structure comprising of posts, bearers, joists and decking boards

DG: Dressing grade, but a lower grade of timber.

DIMENSIONS: Any of the three linear measurements, length, breadth and depth.

DOGHOUSE: A shelter for a dog An outbuilding that serves as a shelter for a dog

DOVETAIL JOINT: A method of joining wood at corners by the use of wedge-shaped interlocking pins and tails. A joint in which wedge-shaped parts are interlocked to form a tight bond. This joint is commonly used on furniture parts, such as the corners of drawers. A tenon (pin) that is shaped like a dove’s spread tail to fit into a corresponding mortise (tail).

DOWEL: A round wooden pin that is used to reinforce a wood joint. The round wooden pin fits into corresponding holes in adjacent pieces of wood and helps fastens them securely together.

DRESSED: Relating to timber; Planed; Smooth; even surface; gauged.

DROP HEIGHT: The distance down from the TOP PLATE to the soffit board.

DWANG: Nogging; A short piece of timber set between two studs, joists, rafters or purlins to keep them rigid.

– E –

EAVES: The part of the roof which extends beyond the exterior side wall. The projecting lower edge of a roof where the gutters are located. The eaves are made up of both the soffit (covering for underside of an overhang) and the fascia (A horizontal trim fixed to the ends of the roof rafters).

EAVES LINING: Soffit; The underside board of eaves and rakes.

ELEVATION: Side view of a building.

END RAFTER: Rafter each end of the roof frame.

Words beginning with F, G

-F –

FASCIA: Exterior horizontal visible flat front trim board that caps the rafter tail ends. FALL: Of roof; Pitch; The incline angle of a roof surface.

FBM: Of roof; Feet, Board, Measure.

FJ: Of roof; Finger jointed.

FLASHING: Any piece of material, usually metal or plastic, installed to prevent water from penetrating the structure.

FLUSH: Being even with.

FOOTING: A base (in or on the ground) that will support the structure.

FULL SAWN: Lumber cut, in the rough, to its full nominal size.

– G –

GABLE: The roof ends and walls that form an inverted V.

GALVANIZED: Covered with a protective coating of zinc.

GARAGE: A building or enclosure primarily designed to house motor vehicles. It can be either attached to the main house or detached and surrounded by open space.

GAUGED: See DRESSED.

GAZEBO: A freestanding, roofed, usually open-sided structure which provides a shady resting place. Usually square, hexagonal or octagonal shaped. If on the roof of a house, it is called a belvedere

GL: Green Lumber. Freshly cut lumber that has not had time to dry. Moisture content in excess of 19%.

GREENHOUSE: Structure used for growing plants. Natural sunlight comes in through glass or plastic panels and the temperature and humidity is controlled to provide ideal growing conditions. A building made with translucent (light transparent, usually glass or fiberglass) walls conducive to plant growth

GREEN LUMBER: Freshly cut lumber that has not had time to dry. Wood that is not fully dried or has been recently cut. Has not been seasoned or kiln dried.

Words beginning with H, I, J

– H –

HEADER: Lintel; A beam placed perpendicular to wall studs above doors, windows or other openings, to carry the weight of structural loads.

HEART WOOD: The inner core of a tree and is usually harder and darker than the outer cores. The central core of wood in a tree which is made up of dense, dead wood that no longer produces sap and is dark in color. Provides strength to the tree. It is the most stable and durable part of the tree and in some trees the Heartwood is naturally rot and insect resistant.

HEXAGONAL: A plane figure with six straight sides. A regular hexagon is one with all six sides and all six angles equal, the angles all being 120°. Congruent regular hexagons can be fitted together to cover completely a plane surface. Apart from squares and equilateral triangles, these are the only regular polygons with this property.

HIP ROOF: A roof which rises by inclining planes from all four sides of a building. A roof which slopes from all four sides of a building. The line where two adjacent sloping sides intersect is called the ‘hip’. A type of roof containing sloping planes of the same pitch on each of four sides. Contains no gables.

HORIZONTAL: Parallel to the horizon, flat, level

– I –

– J –

JAMB: The frame in which a door or window sits. The top and two sides of a door or window frame that contact the door or sash. A vertical member at the side of a window frame, or the horizontal member at the top of the window frame, as in head jamb.

JOINT: The gap or space created when two building materials come together, such as where two pieces of molding join or where the bathtub and bathroom wall meet.

JOIST: One of a series of parallel framing members used to support floor and ceiling loads, and supported in turn by larger beams, girders, or bearing walls.

Words beginning with K, L

– K –

KDAT: Kiln dried after treatment. Lumber that has been kiln dried to 19% or less moisture content after being pressure treated.

KILN: A room, building or chamber where temperature, relative humidity, and air circulation is controlled to dry wood.

KILN DRIED: Lumber that has been seasoned in a kiln to a calculated moisture content reducing shrinkage, twisting, splitting and strengthening the finished product

KNOT: The portion of a branch of a tree that appears on the edge or face of a piece of lumber. Usually a circular mark on a board or piece of lumber showing where the branch was.

– L –

LATCH: The locking device on a door or window.

LATH: A narrow thin strip of wood. Laths are the vertical and horizontal or diagonal strips of wood used in latticework Also wood strips used as backing for plaster.

LATTICE: Framework consisting of an ornamental design made of strips of wood or metal. A framework of crossed wood or metal strips.

LINEAL: In a straight unbroken line

LINEAR FOOT: A measurement of the length of a board. Linear: Having only one dimension which is length. Long and narrow with parallel sides.

LF: Lineal (running) foot. A measurement of the length of a board.

LM: Lineal (running) meter. A measurement of the length of a board.

LINTEL: Header; A beam placed perpendicular to wall studs above doors, windows or other openings to carry the weight of structural loads.

LONGITUDINAL: Running the length of the building.

LUMBER: Any of the framing wood. Logs which have been sawn, or sawn and planed, and cut to length.

Words beginning with M, N, O

– M –

MAILBOX: A box at or near a dwelling for the occupant’s mail.

MASTIC: Heavy-consistency compound that may remain adhesive and pliable with age. Is typically a waterproof compound applied to exterior walls and roof surfaces. Descriptive of compounds that remain elastic and pliable with age

MDF: Medium density fibreboard. A special type of tempered hardboard with a fine, smooth finish. MDF is used in cabinet making.

MEETING RAIL: The members of a window or sliding door that come together in an interlocking action when the window/door is closed.

MEMBER: Piece of timber that is part of a frame or structure.

MID-RAIL: Also called meeting stile and meeting rails. The horizontal members of a sliding glass door, a sliding window, or the vertical members of a hung window where two panels meet and create a weather barrier.

METAL STRAP: Short lengths of metal strap 25×1 (1/16×1) used to fix members together to resist uplift.

MG: Gauged smooth finish.

MSG: Machine stress graded.

MULLION: The vertical or horizontal divisions or joints between single windows in a multiple window unit. A divider in a window.

MUNTIN: A vertical framing member set between two rails in a door or in paneling. A short vertical or horizontal bar used to separate panes of glass in a window or panels in a door. A term often confused with mullion.

– N –

NAIL: A thin pointed piece of metal that is hammered into material as a fastener.

NAIL PLATE: Gang nail plate; Metal plate with rows of sharp points that are hammered into butt-jointed timber to secure the join.

NOGGING: Dwang; A short piece of timber set between two studs, joists, rafters or purlins to keep them rigid.

NOMINAL SIZE: The rough-sawn size of a piece of lumber. Before the lumber is planed or dressed. The nominal size is usually greater than the actual dimension. e.g. 100×50 (2 x 4) actually equals 90×45 (1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″).

– O –

O.C.: On center; (See CENTERS)

OCTAGON: A polygon with 8 sides. Octagonal: Having eight sides and eight angles. Of or relating to or shaped like an octagon.

ON CENTER: (O.C.) Crs, centers. The term used to define the measured spacing between studs, joists, rafters, etc. O.C. measurements are taken from the center of one member to the center of the adjoining member.

Words beginning with P

– P –

PANE: A sheet of glass within a window. A panel used to fill a framed section of a window or door. Usually glass or other transparent material.

PARTICLEBOARD: A panel (plywood substitute) made by pressing a mixture of thin wood chips and epoxy resin together. It is used in furniture, shelves, doors, floors and partition walls.

PENNY SIZE: Term that refers to nail sizes. (U.S.) Nails are measured in a system that refers to their size. The unit is called a “penny.” The larger the number, the larger the nail. A 3-penny (3 d) nail is much smaller than a 16-penny nail.

PERGOLA: A structure with open wood-framed roofs, often latticed and supported by regularly spaced posts or columns, and covered by climbing plants such as vines or roses, shading a walk or passageway. Pergolas are distinguished from “arbors,” which are less extensive in extent and structure.

PERIMETER: boundary.

PILE: A column-like member supporting the structure from the ground.

PLANE BRACE: A diagonal brace running along the plane of a roof.

PLANTER: Planter box – A container in which ornamental plants are grown

PLATE: The top or bottom horizontal framing member of the wall

PLAYHOUSE: A small house for children to play in.

PLUMB: Vertical; Upright.

PLYWOOD: A piece of wood made of three or more layers of wood veneer laminated together with glue.

PORCH SWING: A type of bench seat suspended off the ground with chains or ropes enabling the bench seat to swing back and forth.

POST: see PILE

PP: Pre primed

PRESSURE TREATED: Lumber pressure sprayed with chemicals to lengthen its life expectancy for outside use or inground applications

PROFILES: Batter boards; Horizontal boards attached level to stakes, used to mark out the boundary of a construction and establish the levels and building line.

PT: Pressure-Treated Lumber. Pressure sprayed lumber to lengthen its life expectancy for outside use or inground applications

PURLIN: Timber used to support roofing sheets. Usually fixed on top of rafters.

PVC: Polyvinyl chloride. A common thermoplastic resin, used in a wide variety of manufactured products, including rainwear, pipes, garden hoses, phonograph records, and floor tiles

Words beginning with Q, R

– Q –

– R –

RABBET: A cut or groove along or near the edge of a piece of wood that allows another piece to fit into it to form a joint or a joint so made. A rectangular groove made to hold two pieces together.

RAFTER: Parallel members of a roof that support battens/purlins and roofing materials.

RAIL: The top and bottom frame member of a door or window (not the jamb). Cross member of panel doors or of a sash. Also the upper and lower member of a balustrade or staircase extending from one vertical support, such as a post, to another. The horizontal member of a fence.

RAKE: The angle of slope of a roof rafter. Refers to the slope of the roof at the end of a gable. Degree of deviation from a horizontal plane.

RECTANGLE: Four-sided figure with four right angles.

REVEAL: The part of the side of a window or door opening that is between the outer surface of a wall and the window or door frame.

RIBBON PLATE: Ribbon board, soffit board; A horizontal member fixed to the top of the studs and supporting the sprockets.

RIDGE BOARD: Upper-most horizontal framing member on a roof, to which the tops of the rafters are fixed.

RIP CUT: A cut lengthwise along a board that also runs with the grain. As opposed to cross-cut.

ROOFING IRON: Corrugated metal sheet used to clad roof.

ROOF PLANE BRACE: See plane brace.

ROOFING UNDERLAY: A building paper that covers roof frame prior to the cladding being fixed. Reduces air movement and helps avoid the risk of water ingress.

ROUGH OPENING: Trim size; The framed-in opening, slightly larger than the actual window/door, that replaces wall studs to support the structure and accommodate a window/door.

Words beginning with S

– S –

S2S: Surfaced two sides. Dimensioned lumber that has one face and one edge planed or sanded smooth. Lumber that has been planed smooth on two sides.

S4S: Surfaced four sides. Dimensioned lumber that has all the faces and edges planed or sanded smooth. Lumber that has been planed smooth on all four sides.

SAPWOOD: The wood in a tree between the bark and the Heartwood

SASH: A sash is (usually) the moving segment of the window consisting of two side stiles (vertical members), a top rail (horizontal member) and a bottom rail (horizontal member).

SAWN: Rough sawn; Not gauged, planed or dressed.

SEALANT: Soft, pliable material that is used to seal cracks or joints where structural strength is not required.

SEASONING: The act or process by which something is seasoned. The treatment or the drying of lumber until it is ready for use; curing. The process of removing the moisture from green lumber to improve its workability and stability.

SHEETROCK: Panels made primarily from gypsum installed over the framing to form the interior walls and ceilings. A brand name of gypsum wallboard. Informally and incorrectly, any drywall may be called Sheetrock. Sheetrock is often called gypsum board.

SIDING: Cladding; Exterior wall cladding. May be made from wood, pressed wood by products, hardboard, vinyl, or metal.

SILICON: A type of sealant. A pliable type material used for sealing cracks in window frames, and is used sometimes as a glazing compound.

SILL: Framing member that forms the bottom edge of the window opening.

SLAB: Of concrete; used for garages, and basement floors.

SLOPE: See fall.

SOFFIT: Eaves lining; The underside board of eaves and rakes.

SOFFIT BOARD: Soffit lining. Cladding on the underside of the eaves.

SOFTWOOD: General term used to describe wood produced from needle and/or cone bearing trees. Wood that is easy to saw from conifers such as pine or fir. The term ‘softwood’ does not refer the density of the wood as there are hardwoods that are softer than softwoods such as balsa.

SOLE PLATE: wall plate, bottom plate; The bottom horizontal framing member of the wall.

SPAN: The horizontal distance between supporting structures.

SPIKE (NAIL): A large nail that is usually over 100mm (4″) long. Also a 60 penny nail ( 6″ / 150 mm) used to mark survey points in hard ground.

SPF: Spruce, Pine, Fir. Indicates that the piece of wood is from the Spruce, Pine, Fir family.

SPIRIT LEVEL: Tool used to ensure surfaces are level or plumb by means of a bubble in a tube of liquid fitted to the level.

SPRAG (NAIL): A term used for a nail (slang)

SPRIG (NAIL): A small brad without a head.

SPROCKET: Eaves bearer, soffit bearer; A horizontal member fixed to the end of a rafter and to the ribbon plate.

STILE: A vertical side member of a sash.

STRINGLINE: A slightly elastic string stretched between two pegs and used as a guide line. Determines the building line.

STRAP BRACING: Metal strap 25×1 (1/16×1) used to brace roof frames. Two straps diagonally opposed on one plane form one brace. The size and length of the roof determines how many braces are required. Each strap is tightened with tensioners.

SURFACED LUMBER: Lumber that has been planed or sanded smooth on one or more surfaces.

STUD: A 100×50 (2×4) vertical framing member used to construct walls.

Words beginning with T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z

– T –

T & G: Tongue and groove. A joint in which a protrusion (tongue) that runs along the edge of a board fits into a matching groove that runs along the edge of another board. Boards shaped with a tongue on one edge and a groove on the other so that they can be fitted together without gaps.

TENON: A projection at the end of a piece of wood that is shaped to fit into a mortise and form a mortise joint. The projecting end (usually rectangular) piece of a wood that is inserted into a mortise (matching slot).

TIMBER PROFILE: See PROFILES.

TOE KICK: An recess or indentation at the bottom of a cabinet to provide room to allow the user to stand closer without ‘kicking the toe’. Also the Space from the top of one tread to the bottom of the next.

TONGUE AND GROOVE: A joint in which a protrusion (tongue) that runs along the edge of a board fits into a matching groove that runs along the edge of another board. Boards shaped with a tongue on one edge and a groove on the other so that they can be fitted together without gaps.

TOP PLATE: The top horizontal framing member of the wall.

TREATED: Pressure treated. Refers to lumber that is treated in such a way that the sealer is forced into the pores of the wood. Refers to lumber pressure sprayed with chemicals to lengthen its life expectancy for outside use or inground applications.

TRIMMER: Under stud; Framing member that is cut to fit between the bottom PLATE and the HEADER.

– U –

UNDERLAY: A building paper that envelops the exterior walls or roof frame prior to the cladding being fixed. Reduces air movement and helps avoid the risk of water ingress.

UNDER STUD: TRIMMER;Framing member that is cut to fit between the bottom PLATE and the HEADER.

– V –

VENEER: A thin sheet of wood cut from a log.

VERTICAL: See PLUMB.

– W –

WALL CLADDING: The exterior surface of a wall.

WALL PLATE: wall plate, sole plate; The bottom horizontal framing member of the wall.

WANE: The presence of bark or lack of wood from any cause on the edge or corner of a piece of wood.

WENDY HOUSE: A small house for children to play in more suitable for girls.

WIRE DOG: D or Z shaped nails spiked at each end. Used to fix members together to resist uplift.

WOOD: Timber, lumber. The hard fibrous lignified substance under the bark of trees

WORKBENCH: Work table. A sturdy table with drawers and other conveniences. A strong worktable suitable for a carpenter.

WORKTABLE: Workbench. A sturdy table with drawers and other conveniences. A strong worktable suitable for a carpenter.

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