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Anvil Multi-purpose tool, used to shape hot metal. Comes in numerous styles amnd sizes, according to the smith's requiremenmts and preferences. The tapering Horn is used for rounded work but most the flat top is most widely used. Different tempers in the top make it used for different purposes. Most inclue a square socket to make ancillary tools
ARC welding Cheapest and easiest of the various welding methods, using inexpensive equipment and plug-in box. Suitable for most ironmongery jobs but will not weld cast iron and leaves a highly distinctive join
Architrave Moulding to accentuate doors and windows, covering join between plaster and door/window lining. Comes in various patterns and sizes
Arris An architecrual term... commonly used to describe the horizontal triangular rail used to strengthen a fence midway up, where the diagonal edges prevent water from collecting and rotting the timber, while also making it harder to climb
Arrowhead Commonly used decoration at the end of garnet hinge, especially in later imitations, in cast-iron or blacksmith work
Artex Flexible acrilic paint, bulked up to provide a textured surface to walls and celings, whilst covering plaster cracks. Easy to apply but currently out-dated. Early formulas sometimes included asbestos, making removal hazardous
Ashlar Dressed stone work, using large rectangular blocks with square edges and even faces, generally 13 to 15 inches in height. When smaller than 11 inches, they are usually called “small ashlar”. Once widely used as an alternative to brick. Generally the external face is smooth or polished, occasionally decorated by small grooves achieved by the application of a metal comb, known as mason's drag.


Band Length of iron used to strengthen a door, wrapped around at the end to form a sleeve fitting onto pintle as hinge. Often the smith used a worn out cartwheel, hence the heavy square, inset nail holes
Band Saw Machine-driven saw, using a long continuous blade for planking a tree trunk. It leaves straight, parallel cut marks. The blade can be thinner than a circular saw, making a more economical cut
Barrell Bolt Sliding bolt, with round slide… difficult to make by hand until steel mills could porouduce standard, round-section bar
bead and butt Tongue and groove boarding adds strength and helps prevent warping by interlocking adjoining boards. Floorboards are traditionally T'n'G. butt joined but wall boarding commonly comes with both sides slightly bevelled to leave a V groove. Bead and butt instead incorporates a half-round bead on one edge, for decoration. Often difficult to find
Beading General term for decorative strip of wood, usually used to cover joints between adjoining timbers. Usually comes in 2-metre lengths, in various cross-sections
Bean Bean-shaped fixing pad for thumb-latch. Probably an American design now copied in Britain but rare in original material
Bees Wax Gives a distinctive and lasting finish if used by blacksmiths to cool or temper red-hot metalwork Traditionalluy used by cabinet makers to fill small holes, such as knots or splits. Softened to a paste with white spirit it is used as furniture polish
Blind Tenon Tenon for mortise which does not extend right through the wood. More difficult to make, especially to wedge, but protects end grain from weathering and also leaves a smooth edge for door or window casement
Blockboard Type of plywood much favoured in mid/late 20th century. Two or three layers of thin veneer, often birch, sandwich long strips of softwood one inch square or similar
Board plain wood, usually of small dimension, up to 1" thick. The younger trees used today mean that wider boards are difficult to find and liable to warp. The width of flooboards is a usual indicator of the age of a property. Not to be confused with panelling
Bolster Wide chisel, used for brick or stone
Bottom rail Term used to describe the bottom timber in a door or window casement. Increasingl narrow, as machine-made joints and modern glue allow joiners to economise on timber and maximise glass area
Brace Hand tool with cranked centre section to enable hand boring of large (10mm plus) holes in timber
Brazing Expensive but neat way to join many metals, using a silver/copper/zinc alloy. Metal must be carefully prepared but resulting join is extremely strong and particularly stress and vibration resistant
Bullnose Cheap, universal moulding widely used in modern building for skirting boards and arcitrave. One edge is simply rounded off
Butt Hinge Conventional rectangular, symetrical hinge. In various sizes and materials, usually with countersunk fixing holes. Pre-20th century versions were often in cast iron
Butterfly Type of hinge used for cabinet work, and especially for cupboards built-in to chimney breasts, So called from its shape


Cabinet maker Furniture maker
Carpenter Construction timber worker, working on-site
Case-harden Process to harden the surface of a cutting edge or similar, usualy by dipping the red-hot metal into a bath of a carbon-rich powder. Traditionally a smith might use horse-hoof shavings. A similar process is widely used today to harden saw teeth on so the rsultant bladehas the flexibility and resilience un-suitable for a cutting edge
Casement The opening part of a window. Usually timber but also sometimes metal (iron for old lattice windos, aluminium for mdern double-glazed 'units') or plastic
Chipboard Manufactured timber, using wood chips and a plastic resin. Once highly susceptible to wet but now mostly water-resistant. Unsightly, textured finish, heavy, hard to cut and not very strong. Mainly used for cheap flooring, although sheet size makes access to under-floor services difficult
Chisel Long-hangled tool with cutting edge, used mainly for wood. Many particulare patterns designed for particular jobs
Cill bottom component of door or window frame. Frequently in hardwood, moulded to shed rain, with anti-drip groove on the outer, underside. Innner face may be grooved to take window board.
Circular Saw Once used for planking tree trunks, but now largely replaced by bandsaws, because of high wasteage. Leaves distictinctive arcs of saw marks. Now smaller versions widely used on site
Clamp Temporary tool for holding pieces before fixing
Cleft Split. When saws were expensive, inefficient and wasteful, much timber was split along the grain, using a froe, to produce building timber or panelling
Clench Bending a nail to lie flat on a board from which it has emerged, for extra strenth. Difficult and possibly unneccessary with a cut nail.
Coach Bolt Round head bolt, with smaller square head beneath, tightened only by square or hexagonal nut
Coach Screw Heavy-duty tapered wood screw, with a square or hexagonal head to take a spanner
Coping saw Small hand saw saw with thin disposable blade for cutting curves
Corporation Hinge Strap hinge, with dog-leg offset to allow door to fit inside frame, un-hindered by pintel
Counter bore Drilled hole to enable head of screw or other fixing to sit below surface
Counter-boarding Boards set across the grain of adjacent boards, for instance on the inside of a door, providing extra strength and resistance to warping and making a door inpenetrable to an intruder's axe
Countersink To widen a screw hole and enable suitable screw to sit flush or below surface
Coxcombe Decorative hinge, to spread fixing holes across greater area of timber. Pattern resembles sillhuoette of cockerell's head, Especially used on Jacobean oak furniture
Cross-head Late 20th century screws with inset cropss on the head to take specially designed screwdriver, eg Phillips screws


Dado Decorative moulding, horizontally on wall about waist height. Sometimes used to finish boarding or panelling below
Deadening Technique to improve grip of a nail, using a 'Dolly' such as a heavy hammer head to prevent an oversize nail emerging on the back side and forcing it to crimp inside the wood when hammered home
Deal Whitewood. Earlier term for 'pine'. Red Deal was mainly from Scots Pine, White Deal, Norway Spruce
Door Frame Substantial rectangle around doorway, with heavy load-bearing timber verticals and load-bearing lintel, now widely replaced with door lining fixed to masonry or load bearing timber
Door Lining Timber board, fixed in doorway to cover plaster, masonry or structual timber and to take hinges


Espangnolette System of bars and levers for door catch and/or lock, with waist-height handle and locking pieces at top and bottom of door or window. Can be concealed or surface mounted
Eye Hole. Often used to describe mounting hole in strap-and-pintle hinge


Door Frame Feather-edge Board Weatherboard with V cross section to allow simple overlap, with nails through top (thick edge) and lower (thin edge) board
Fire weld Process to weld iron using forge, difficult to apply to modern mild-steel but widely used with soft iron
First-fix Elements of a building which have to be completed before plastering, including plumbing and electrical layout, and interior structural timberwork
Fish tail Semi-decorative finish to for bolts, handles or window furniture, where metal is splayed out and curled back to make a small handle or grip
French Polish Varnish of shellac and methylated spirit, applied to cabinetwork to provide a high-gloss stain or finish. Now superceded by poly-eurethane or water-based varnish but still used under paint to stop knots from bleeding resin
Froe L shaped axe with long narrow blade for accurate splitting timber instead of sawing. Used with a maul rather than by swinging. Used to make panelling, roofing shingles or construction timber


Galvanise Process to rust-proof steel items by dipping in molten zinc to form a thin, grey surface which can be painted and will not corrode
Gas welding Welding using hi-carbon gas, such as acetylene or more recently propane or butane to melt and merge adjacent steel surfaces. Requires some skill, expensive equipment and dangerously flammable/explosive gas cylinders
Green Un-seasoned, especially of oak. Such timber is easier to work but more liable to splits and bending. Water content and tannic acid makes it highly corrosive for ferrous fittings and liable to metal staining
Gripfill Descriptive trade name for modern., gap-filling adhesive, said to be remarkably strong, in situations where conventional contact glues would be little use


Hook Specifically, of hinges, the mounting piece set on door frame incorporation a vertical post on which the door component will sit. Sometimes called Pintle.
Horse Small narrow table, used on site as work bench or stand, sometimes with fitting to allow workpiece to be gripped. As 'Saw Horse'


Iron Low-carbon content ferrous metal, craft-made and now hard to find. Produced now as 'living history' at Ironbridge Gorge. Easy to work and rust-resistant but soft and not so strong as mild steel


Joiner Work-shop based timber worker. One who makes doors, windows etc
Joist Horizontal floor-bearing timber between larger steel ortimber beams or between walls
Joist Hanger Pre-fabricated metal sling to take joist, eliminating the need for cutting mortise hole in masonry or joint with other timber, Nailed in place or slotted into mortar crack in brickwork
Keeper Metal fitting to secured catch or bolt, for example the hook-like piece on a door frame or lining which engages with a Suffolk latch
Knot Feature of timber resulting from an off-shoot branch in the original tree which results in a change in colour and grain direction, often bleeding resin after seasoning and harder than surrounding timber


Keeper Metal fitting to secured catch or bolt, for example the hook-like piece on a door frame or lining which engages with a Suffolk latch
Knot Feature of timber resulting from an off-shoot branch in the original tree which results in a change in colour and grain direction, often bleeding resin after seasoning and harder than surrounding timber


Laminate Factory-made wood, composed of smaller or thinner wafers of timber glued together, as plywood or glulam beans. Also in 'Engineered' plywood flooring, or 'laminate' flooring which is usually a synthetic decorative surface on MDF or Chipboard
Ledge Specifically, horizontal boards on back face of boarded door, to hold the face boards together. Better quality boarded doors al;so incorporate diagonal Braces to prevent any sag
Library Strip Thin slotted strip on either side of bookcase to take pegs supporting adjustable shelving, of brass or similar. Surface or flush mounting
Lifter Latch bar, which pivots up and down on to engage keeper on door frame or lining, usually by thumb lever through the door. Earlier timber versions were lifted by a pull string or through a thumb-hole in the door
Linen-fold Traditional carving pattern, widely used on cleft pannelling, to resemble folds of cloth
Lintel Load-bearing timber, or occasionally stone or now concrete or steel, over door or window.
London Pattern of T hinge


Malleable Softer, lo-carbon steel, used for casting small fittings, so they are less brittle than ordinary cast iron. Widely used for re-production ironmongery
Marks Series of small cuts or grooves, like Roman numerals, to mark timber joints for re-construction at a later date, for instance on site after building timbers were cut and pre-assembled elsewhere
MDF Medium Denisty Fibre. Similar to Chipboard but stronger, with a finer surface. Introduced first as 8 x 4 foot boards, more recently for architrave, skirting board, window board. More workable than chipboard
Melamine Plastic surface applied to chipboard or MDF, mostly for use in kitchens and flat-pack furiture
Monkey Tail Semi-decorative finish to for bolts, handles or window furniture, where metal is cuirled into a spiral and curled back to make a small handle or grip
Mortise Rectangular hole in timber to take tenon
Moulding Length of decorative timber, such as architrave. Once made with fluted moulding plane, now with electric router (on site) or spindle moulde (in joinery shop)t
mullion Vertical post between window frames, frequently load-bearing to support lintel. Can be brick or timber, or stone, often a signle, dressed stone
muntin Horizontal timber component of door, around waist height, to provide lateral strenth and suitable mounting for latch or lock


Needles Short sturdy temporary timbers inserted through wall and supported at either end to take weight while an opening is made below until a permanent lintle can be built in
Norfolk Latch Later version of Suffolk latch, incorporating back plate


Ogee Moulding profile widely available for skirtings, architrave or window casements. Today, frequently combined with a Torus moulding enabling carpenter to choose preference


Panel Thin, wide board on door, walls or furniture, where strenth is provided by srrounding framework
Parliament hinge Hinge allowing offset, so that, for instance, a door can open back on itself to lie flush against adjoining wall. Takes more stress than conventional Butt or Garnet hinge and needs to be stronger
Pear Drop Semi-decorative finish to for bolts, handles or window furniture, where metal is formed into tear-drop and possibly curled back to make a small handle or grip
Piano hinge Compact, light-weight hinge, sold in 2 metre lengths or similar, for eg piano lids.
Pintle Originally Pin Tail. Hook, mounted in pairs, on which to hang Band or Starp of a hinge, before introduction of conventional hinge with captive pin
Pit saw Long, 2-man rip saw, used vertically, with bottom sawyer in a deep pit, to plank up horizontal log. Leaves straight saw marks, but npt parallel. Now long out of use
Plumb Vertical… as gauged by Plumb Bob, a smaller weight, originally lead, on a long cord (plaitted, not twisted)
Plywood Laminate made from thin wafers glued together in various thicknesses and qualities, usually in sheet form. Modern glues are more damp-resistant than formerly and less attractive to woodworm
Powder-coating Electrostatic process applied to mainly small metal items, giving a thick, usually black, corrision resistan finish
PSE Plain Square Edge, refererring to planed boards without moulded edge or tongues, grooves etc
Pull-string Early device to lift door catch (usually wooden) with a string or thong from the other side of the door
Purlin Horizontal timber or steel supporting rafters



Rafter Sloping roof timbers
Rebate Right-angled groove cut in the edge of a timber, usually to accommodate glass or panels
Red lead Traditional paint incorporating lead oxide, turpentine and linseed oil, used as primer, now mostly on metal
Return Right-angled shelf or wall
Riven Split. When saws were expensive, inefficient and wasteful, much timber was split along the grain, using a froe, to produce building timber or panelling. Also frequently used of stone
Rose-head Old-fashioned nail, hand-made in a small jig, with a large, raised pyramidal head. Made of soft iron, with a poor grip made up by extensive use of clenching or deadening
Router Formerly elaborate plane, now used of an electric hand or table tool, cutting grooves or channels horizontally. Interchangeable cutters enable a wide rane of profiles. Can be used freehand or with jig or fence
RSJ Rolled Steel Joist, widely used for major structutal support


Sash Window casement opened by sliding up or down, on spring or counter-balance weights, Formerly sliding side-ways
Second-fix Post-plaster tasks, such as connection electrical and plumbing fittings and timberwork such as skirtings, architraves
Shake Split in timber, usually occurring through bad seasoning
Shiplap Type of weatherboard, designed to shed rain and minimise possibility of rotting, whilst economising on fixing (two boards being nail together at the overlap)
Shoulder Hinge component fixed to the door frame. Also joiner's device to strength mortise and tenon joint
Side-axe Short-handled axe shapened on one side only for trimming large timbers to square
Sill Or Cill Silver solder Alloy of silver, copper and zinc (cadmium content is now being phased out) for joining red hot, close-contact joints in most ferrous alloys. Expensive but extremely strong and vibration reistant. A flux of borax is used
Solder lo-melting alloy of tin and lead, used to join close-contact surfaces in copper, tin-plate or brass and especially in copper pipe-work by plumbers. The lead content is now often replaced with an alternative metal. Use of of a patent flux or 'killed spirits (Zinc Chloride)
Stake Small anvil, long and narrow with tapered square base designed to fit into standard square slot on conventional anvil and widely used by sheet metal workers
Strap Long arm of T or garnet hinge or restraining band to hold timber in place
Stud Constructional timberwork, comprised of vertical posts with horizontal spacers or diagonal bracing. Now widely used with plasterboard for internal walls. Formerly used with brick, flint or mud infill or with wattle and daub covering
Suffolk Latch Traditional thumb latch, with thumb operated lever through the door raising a lifter to disengage from a keeper on the doorframe. Different designs of the fixing pads and of the lifter seem to have a regional significance
Swage Tool held with tongs and hammered to cut or shape hot metal, or shape formed in tool into which hot metal is hammered
Swan-neck Offset in a bolt or pipe to accommodate otherwise unsuitable layout


Tenon Rectangulat 'finger' formed at the end of a timber piece to engage in like shaped slot (mortise) in aother timber
Threshold Heavy timber beneath door. Thought to originaste from practice of threshing grain on a wooden threshing floor
thumb hole Hole in door to acess catch on the inside with thumb or finger
Tongue and groove Device to interlock boarding, for strength, resistance to warping and to prevent appearance of cracks between boards. Ocassionally floor boards were 'joined' with a thin metal strip sunck into matching boards on either side
Torus Moulding profile widely available for skirtings, architrave or window casements. Today, frequently combined with an Ogee moulding enabling carpenter to choose preference
Tower bolt Sliding bolt, with round slide… difficult to make by hand until steel mills could porouduce standard, round-section bar. The 'tower' refers to a knob, shaped like a fairy-tale castle turret on a lever which turns to engage in a slot on the casing to keep the slider in place


Universal Beam Similar to RSJ but with a slightly different cross-section and with different characteristics



Wainscot Vertical boarding on the lower part of an inside wall, to hide rising damp. Occasionally panelled
Wattle Hazel or willow wands, woven around similar vertical uprights to fill between studding and covered weith 'daub' (cow dung and mud) for cheap wall
Weatherboard Boarding such as feather-edge or shiplap, to clad building exterior
Wedge V-shaped piece of wood hammered into the end grain of a tenon for extra strength, or to secure the head of a tool, such as axe or hammer, onto the shaft. For tools a smaller steel wedge may also be used
Welsh latch Similar to Suffolk latch, but the lever is cut short, instead of extending to provide a hold for opening the door. Instead the lifter has a similarly shaped extension on the top
Wrought Literally, worked, often used for ornamental twisted or bent metalwork, even cold-worked. 'Real' wrought iron is soft and essentially hand-made. It is rust-resistant, easily worked and difficult to obtain