What’s in a Word?

What’s in a Word?

Rob shared some archaic woodworking terms last week and requested that readers do the same. Several of you have answered his call. – Editor

“Most of us know the kerf of a cut is its width. The swarf of a cut is its waste. I learned this not so long ago myself.” – Mark Sullivan

“I’m a Brit — born and raised in Wales. I got my U.S. citizenship as soon as I could and have resided in Washington state for 56 years. I’ve always thought it strange that we use clamps and they use cramps. Here’s another small difference: a 2 x 4 here is a 4 x 2 over there. I’ve probably forgotten a lot of other differences!” – Phil Humphries

“I was going through some ancestry articles and came across an account of a young man skilled in the work of a sawyer. It got me to thinking of the old antique woodworking skills that have been brought into the modern metalworking industries and hobbies. What is a sawyer? He is a wood cutter, a carpenter. He would work cutting trees with a long pit saw. One sawyer at the top and one in the pit. (The terms ‘top dog’ and ‘underdog’ come from this). They would saw the timber into appropriate boards and other sizes to be used in whatever was being manufactured. Mills back then were mostly made of wood — even the bolts and nuts. We take much of what is done today for granted, but these old-timers had to make all their products in timber, and many of these skills and techniques have followed them into the fitting and turning of metals today. The first screw-cutting lathe, I believe, was invented in the late 1700s to early 1800s. Everything before that was hand-made, and there were no standard sizes. The Whitworth thread was the world’s first national screw thread standard, devised and specified by Joseph Whitworth in 1841. These craftsmen left the English shores and came to places like Australia (and South Africa, where I come from) where their skills were often continued, and most certainly put to good use in the early pioneering days.” – Garth Kay-Hards

“Here in the UK a ‘bodger’ is someone who throws something together with no regard to aesthetics or durability. A ‘bodged job’ is sometimes referred to as a ‘botch job.’ I always thought ‘rabbet’ was a type of joint — rabbet joint — I didn’t know it referred to a ‘rebate.’ You learn something new every day!” – Ken Gladwin

“Another term is ‘quirk,’: it’s the little offset used when, say, placing the architrave around a door frame.” – pkruss

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