Carpentry Glossary

Glossary of carpentry and building terms:

Acanthus: Mediterranean plant used in a stylised form for decoration, especially by Neo Classical architects.

Aedicule: The Surrounding of a window or door by a raised moulding or pilasters with a form of pediment across the top. Common on classically styled houses from the 1830s.

Anthemion: A decorative motif based upon a honeysuckle flower.

Apron lining: Vertical lining around the well of a staircase

Architrave: The Lowes section of the entablature in classical architecture. In this context it refers to the door surround.

Area: Common name for the open space in front of a large terraced house down which steps led to the basement.

Ashlar: Smooth stone masonry with fine joints.

Astragal: A small raised bead with semicircular moulding.

Astylar: A façade with no vertical features such as columns.

Baluster: Plain or decorated post supporting the stair rail.

Balustrade: A row of decorated uprights (balusters) with a rail along the top.

Bargeboard: External vertical boards that protect the ends of the sloping roof on a gable and were often decorated.

Bastle House: A defensive house found in the far north, which has a byre on the ground floor and living rooms above.

Batten: Timber of small section usually forming grounds behind finished joinery.

Bay Window: A window projecting from the façade of a house, always resting on the ground even if rising up more than one storey.

Bead: A half round moulding with a a small quirk

Bed Mould: A moulding fitted in the angle between a vertical edge and a flat surface i.e. doorstile and panel.

Bevel: A term used of any angle not at a right angle

Bolection moulding: A projecting S-shaped moulding around a doorway, fireplace, etc.

Bonding: The way bricks are laid in a wall with the different patterns formed by alternative arrangements of headers (the short ends) and stretchers (the long side).

Boss: Carved decoration at the intersection of ceiling beams or the centre of a roof truss.

Bow windows: A bay window with a curved plan.

Box Frames: Windows with hollow built up sides which contain counter weights to sliding sashes.

Brace: A framed diagonal member fitted to resist tension or compression.

Bracket: Either a right angle support or an ornament shape under the return nosing of a cut string stair.

Brattishing: Decoration resembling miniature battlements used along the top of a moulded beam.

Bressumer: A horizontal beam especially a jetty beam.

Butt Bead: A vertical bead with quirk between a flush panel and the surrounding frame.

Cames: Strip of lead of H-shaped cross-section which hold the panes of glass in a leaded light window.

Canted: An angled structure usually referring to a bay window.

Capital: The decorated top of classical column.

Capping String: A moulding wider than the thickness of the string to house balusters.

Carcassing: The timber main parts of a framed structure before coverings or decorative features are applied.

Carriage: The timber framing set under wide stairs to provide additional support.

Cased frame: Hollow built up frames to receive sashes.

Casement: A window that is hinged along the side.

Cavetto mould: A quarter circle hollow mould, often called a scotia.

Chamfer: An angle bevelled so the arris is removed equally on each face of the timber.

Chimneybreast: The main body of the chimney including the fireplace and the flues.

Chimneypiece: An internal fireplace surround.

Conversion: Reducing sawn timber to smaller sections.

Coping stone: A protective capping running along the top of the wall.

Core rail: A metal bar fitted to the underside of a handrail.

Cornice: The top section of the entablature, in this context referring to the moulding that runs around the top of an external or internal wall.

Coving: A large concave moulding that covers the joint between the top of a wall and ceiling.

Crenellations: An alternative name for battlements

Cross-passage: A passage with only one external door; the term is often used instead of through-passage.

Cruck truss: A pair of curved or angled timbers which rise from ground level, or not far above it, and curve over o meet at the apex. Each crucks is called a blade.

Dado: The base of a classical column, but in this context referring to the bottom section of a wall between the skirting and chair (or dado) rail.

Dais: A raised platform at the upper (i.e. Superior) end of an open hall.

Dendrochronology: The science of dating timber by the pattern of growth rings.

Dentils: A row of small, square, alternately projecting decorations used as part of cornices and other mouldings.

Dormer: An upright window set in the angle of the roof and casting light into the attic rooms.

Drip: A hollow throat or groove to the underside of external sills to interrupt the flow of water.

Eaves: The section of the roof timber under the tiles or slates where they either meet the wall (and a parapet continues above) or project over it ( usually projected by a fascia board, which supports the guttering)

Egg and Dart: A decorative row of truncated egg shapes with arrows between used as part of moulding.

Entablature: Horizontal lintel supported by columns in a classical temple.

Entasis: The slight bulging of classical columns in the middle to counter an optical illusion that makes them appear concave to the naked eye.

Façade: The main vertical face of the house.

Fanlight: The window above  a door lighting the hall beyond. Named after the radiating bars in semi-circular Georgian and Regency versions.

Fenestration: The arrangement of windows in the façade of a house.

Fielded: The raised central part of a panel.

Finial: A decorative feature at the apex of a gable or on top of a newel post.

Fluting: The vertical concave grooves running up a column or pilaster.

Framed casings: Built up sections forming wide panels to door openings and window reveals.

Field: The bevelled section of a raised panel.

Frieze: The middle section of the entablature, in this context referring to the section of the wall between the picture rail and cornice.

Gable: The pointed upper section of a wall at the end of a pitched roof.

Glazing Bars: The internal divisions of a window, which support the panes.

Groove: In carpentry, a shallow recess, usually semicircular, fee or rectangular in shape.

Guilloche: A decorative pattern made from two twisted bands forming circles between.

Gunstock stile: A diminished stile in width at lock rail level to give increased glass area above.

Halved joint: Two pieces of timber housed out at half its thickness to give a flush surface when assembled.

Hardwood: Timber from broad-leaved or deciduous trees.

Head: The top horizontal member of a frame.

Hearth: The stone or brick base of a fireplace.

Heart wood: the centre of a tree trunk or duramen.

Hood-Mould: A projecting moulding above a stone doorway or window to throw off the rain water.

Horn or Joggle: The projecting end of a sliding sash window to give extra strength.

Housed Joint: A joint to prevent lateral movement in fitments or linings.

Husk: A seed case shape used in decoration.

Inglenook: Term commonly used to describe a large open fireplace with seats on one or both sides.

Jamb: The straight side of an archway, doorway or window.

Jamb linings: Linings whose width equals the finished thickness of a wall.

Jig: A guide, former or template to glue or machine shaped sections.

Kerf: A saw cut partly through material to facilitate bending.

Keystone: The top stone in an arch, often projected as a feature.

Label mould: see Hood-Mould

Lambs tongue: A flat ogee moulding most used in sash sections.

Lath: A thin strip of wood pinned to vertical timbers in walls or the underside of joists on a ceiling to support the plaster. Also used on the exterior to help fix some renderings and hanging tiles.

Lay bar: Horizontal rail to secure the upright members of a ledged door.

Light: An Alternative name for a glazed window sash.

Lining: Thin boards with planted stops to form door surrounds etc.

Lintel: A horizontal beam or stone which bridges an opening.

Loggia: An open side to a building, usually in the form of a series of open arches or columns.

Matching: Tongue and grooved boards, some with fee or beaded edge to hide shrinkage.

Medullary ray: Radiating cell structure giving prominent markings when timber is fully quarter cut, especially in oak.

Mitre: The bisected angle between two equal sections of timber.

Moisture content: Wood, being hygroscopic, must be treated in joinery by kiln drying according to the condition and requirement of the building into which it is to be installed.

Mortise: A slot in one timber designed to receive the tenon of an other timber, hence ‘mortise and tenon joint’.

Moulding: A decorative strip of wood, stone or plaster.

Mullion: A vertical bar of stone or wood which divides a window into lights.

Muntin: Vertical divisions framed between horizontal rails.

Newel post: The central post of a spiral stair; the posts at each corner of a framed stair and at the end of the balustrade.

Ogee: An S-shaped curve, also called a coma or scroll.

Oriel: A projecting window, either on the first floor or a bay rising through two storeys.

Overmantel: A decorative panel, usually of plasterwork, above a fireplace.

Ovolo: A convex moulding formed as a quarter circle or ellipse.

Pallet or Pad: A thin strip of wood built or driven into a brick joint to serve as fixing. Pane: One square of glass within a sash. Panel: A wide infill fitted between a framed surround.

Parapet: The top section of wall, continuing over the sloping end of the roof.

Pargeting: A raised pattern formed from plaster on an external wall (popular originally in the East of England)

Pediment: A low pitched triangular feature supported by columns or pilasters, above a classical styled door or window in this context.

Pellet: A circular matching plug to cover sunken screw fixing etc.

Pendant: A decorative feature, similar to a finial but hanging down; commonly found on the lower end of the newel posts of a framed stair.

Piano Mobile: The principal floor for receiving guests usually on the first floor of a Georgian and Regency House.

Pilaster: A flat classical column fixed to a wall or fireplace and projecting slightly from it.

Pitch: The angle by which a roof slopes. A plain sloping roof of two sides is called a pitched roof.

Plinth: The projecting base around a building.

Portico: A structure forming a porch over a doorway, usually with a flat cover supported by columns.

Pulley stile: Side uprights to carry axle pulleys, pocket, parting and staff beads of a box frame.

Purlin: The principal horizontal beams in a roof structure.

Quarrels or Quarries: Diamond-shaped panes of glass in a leaded-light window.

Quoin: The corner stones at the junction of walls. Often raised above the surface, made from contrasting materials or finished differently from the rest of the wall for decorative effect.

Rail: A framed horizontal or inclined member to doors and panelling etc.

Random timber: Most hardwood is sold in random width an length. This enables the sawmill to get maximum timber content from a log.

Reeding: Three or more parallel beads running vertically or horizontally for decoration, mainly Regency houses.

Render: A protective covering for a wall.

Reveal: The sides (jambs) of a recessed window or door opening.

Reshooting: to resize a door or window that has become stuck.

Roughcast: A form of cement render containing small stones. Pebbledash is a variety of roughcast that has larger pebbles thrown at it before the last cement coat dries.

Rubble: An arrangement of irregular sized stones in a wall either with no pattern or laid in rough courses (layers)

Rustication: The cutting of stone or moulding of stucco into blocks separated by deep incised lines and sometimes with a rough hewn finish. Often used to highlight the base of a classically styled house.

Sash window: A window comprising of sashes (a frame holding glazing) which slide vertically in grooves. A sash window which slides horizontally is also known as a Yorkshire Sash.

Screen Passage: Passage with opposed doorways, separated from the open hall by fixed or removable screens.

Shoot in: to size a door or window so that it fits the opening.

Sill: The beam at the base of a timber framed wall.

Skirting: The protective strip of wood at the base of a wall.

Soffit: The underside of a beam or lintel.

Solar: The upper living room of a medieval house; the private room of the owner of the house or the lord of the manor.

Spandrel: The triangular space between one side of an arch and the rectangular frame enclosing it.

Stanchion: A vertical bar in a window light between the mullions, usually of iron but sometimes of wood.

Stops: The termination of a chamfer or moulding, usually decorative.

String: The sloping timber supporting the treads of a staircase at their outer edge; often decorated. A closed string is where the treads are framed into the string, and an open string is where they project over the top of the string.

String Course: A moulding or narrow projecting course of stone or brick running horizontally along the face of a wall.

Stucco: A plaster used to render, imitate stonework and form decorative features, especially classically styled houses.

Swag: A decorative festoon of cloth, flower or fruit suspended to form a ‘smile’ shape.

Tenon: The end of a piece of wood shaped to fit into a mortise in another piece of wood.

Tracery: The ribs that divide the top of a stone window and are formed in patterns.

Transom: A horizontal cross-bar in a window.

Truss: A pair of principals or principal rafters, usually joined by a collar or tie-beam, set at intervals along a roof to support the purlins, which in turn support the common rafters

Vault: An Arched structure of brick or stone used to cover a room or commonly in Georgian houses to form the basement or cellars.

Vernacular: Building made from local materials in styles and construction methods passed down within a distinct are, as opposed to architect assigned structures made from mass produced materials.

Voussoir: The wedged shaped stones or bricks that make up an arch.

Wainscot: Timber lining of internal walls or panelling.

Wall-plate: A horizontal timber laid along the top of a wall to which the feet of the rafters are joined.

Yorkshire Sash Window: A sash window that slides horizontally and therefore does not require pulleys and weights, hence making it cheaper and popular on the top floors of working class housing.