Not possessing the same properties in all directions (the opposite
of isotropic). Because of its fibrous structure wood is anisotropic.
The inner bark. The carbohydrates, formed in the leaves by photosynthesis,
flow down through the cells in the bast to feed the life processes
of the tree.
A means of supporting a long thin spindle to help to stop it
flexing in the centre. Also just called a "steady"
The part on the lathe which slides along the bed and supports
the T rest.
A rounded raised portion running around a spindle turning.
A small chisel (often square in section) used to form a bead.
The horizontal part of the lathe which connects the headstock
Chisel shaped lathe tool used for spindle turning ina similar
way to a skew.
The part of the tool which is ground to form the cutting edge.
Numerous small areas on the surface of the wood in which the
fibres are distorted so as to produce elliptical forms somewhat
similar to bird's eyes. Found in maple and sycamore, rare in
The blank is the form the piece of wood takes when it has been
prepared for turning. Typically this will be a round disc for
a bowl or a similar face turning, or a relatively slender 'square'
sectioned piece for turning between centres.
A gouge with a deep flute and a heavy cross-section. Its primary
function is for face turning but it can also be used for spindle
turning. It is most commonly ground with a 40°- 60°
A rare tool (Sometimes known as a bruzz or a buzz) which has
a 'V' section. A turner's bruzze has the bevels ground on the
outside, whereas a carpenter's bruzze is ground on the inside.
A workpiece which is made by gluing together two or more pieces
The American term for a growth on a tree which in Britain is
called a burr. See also: burr (1)
Polishing by friction. In woodturning this is usually carried
out by holding a handful of shavings against the revolving workpiece.
The shavings should come from the work being burnished.
A large wart-like growth, with twigs sprouting from it, found
on the trunk of a tree. Internally the wood tissue is very confused
and usually contains numerous dormant bud formations. The wood
cut from a burr usually shows very attractive figure and is
very highly prized by turners.
A fine upstanding strip of metal left on the edge of a tool
after grinding or the use of a ticketer. (It is sometime called
a wire edge.) This can be honed off but many turners make use
of the burr on a scraper to produce a very fine finishing cut.
A measuring tool consisting of two curved arms connected at
one end by a hinged type joint. In their simplest, traditional,
form they can be used for both inside and outside measurements.
In their modern form the hinge is sprung and the arms are connected
midway by an adjustable screw. In this form inside and outside
callipers are separate devices.
A thin layer of specialised cells which lies between the inner
bark and the sapwood. It is here that the growth of the tree
takes place. New sapwood cells are formed on the inner side
of the cambium, and new bark is formed on its outer side.
The parts in immediate contact with the workpiece when it is
held in the lathe by both ends. Hence the expression 'turning
between centres'. See also: cone centre,
dead centre, drive centre,
live centre and ring centre
The force with which a body revolving around a centre tends
to fly away from that centre. The force which causes pieces
to fly off when work is revolving on a lathe.
Usually requires two laminations. Stripes cut then reglued to
form checks. See also laminated work
A woodturning tool with either a square or a rectangular cross-section
which is ground with a double bevel. See also skew chisel and
square nose chisel.
A device which holds the workpiece on then lathe. A chuck can
take many different forms. See, for example, cup
chuck, precision combination chuck, screw
chuck, and scroll chuck.
The movable metal parts in a chuck which grip the tool or the
A live or a dead centre with a cone shaped point in the tailstock
used to support the workpiece. See also centres
A semicircular hollow running round a spindle turning.
Wood which lied immediately below the fork of a tree. When this
wood is sawn lengthways (ie parallel to the pith) it can produce
exceptionally beautiful, fan shaped, figure. Because of its
beauty crotch figure is greatly prized.
A chuck with a deep recess into which a
spigot on the workpiece can be driven.
A split formed by the separation of the
wood fibres around a growth ring.
A cone centre which does not revolve with the work. See also
Deep fluted gouge
See bowl gouge
See index plate.
This is attached to the drive shaft in the headstock by either
a morse taper or a thread. It both supports the wood and transmits
the drive to it. Usually it has either two prongs or four prongs
which are driven into the workpiece. See also centres
A recess with an undercut edge cut in a workpiece to accept
the jaws of a chuck.
A split on the end of a board.
End grain turning
Turning in the end of a workpiece, which has the grain running
parallel with the axis of the lathe, the other end of which
is held by a screw, or other type of chuck.
Imported timber of a type not indigenous to Britain.
Circular plate held on the headstock spindle to which the workpiece
is attached by screws.
Turning workpiece held on a faceplate, or a chuck when the grain
of the wood runs at right angles to the axis of the lathe.
False Faceplate A piece of waste wood glued to the work
to hold the work on a faceplate. This avoids having screw holes
in the work itself.
Figure which is produced by wavy grain when quarter sawn. It
appears as a rippled effect on the surface, eg ripple maple/sycamore.
The term has come into use because such wood with this figure
has traditionally been used for the backs of violins.
The pattern on the surface of the wood caused by the combination
of such features as grain, growth rings, rays, tissue structure,
colour, knots, burr, and, sometimes, defects.
Used to fill the grain when a smooth finish is required. It
is applied after the primary sanding operation. The work may
be sanded again after the application of the filler and before
the final polishing .
The application of filler.
The shape of the ground end of a spindle gouge.
The final treatment of the work after the tool-work has been
complete, eg sanding, filling and polishing.
A section of timber cut lengthwise from the trunk of the tree,
Fluted parting tool
A tool with a wedge shaped section which has a flute on the
wider of the two edges.
Forstner bits are similar to sawtooth bits but they are guided
by their rims and do not have a centre point. As a consequence
they cut flat bottomed holes which can overlap each other or
the edge of a board. they do not cut as well as a sawtooth bit
in end grain.
Four jaw chuck
A self-centreing chuck similar to the engineering type but with
four jaws instead of three. These chucks are often known as
scroll chucks because of the internal spiral grooves which move
A cutting tool with a 'U' shaped cross-section used with the
bevel rubbing. There are three main types: the roughing gouge,
the spindle gouge and the bowl gouge. For the latter two of
these some turners prefer the terms shallow fluted gouge and
deep fluted gouge respectively. The reason for this is that
bowl gouges can be used for spindle turning and spindle gouges
can be used on face work.
The alignment of the cells relative to the long axis of the
tree, straight, diagonal, interlocked and wavy grain.
Each of these rings is the result of one year's growth. The
rings are often easy to distinguish because the wood produced
in the later part of the year is darker than that produced when
the sap rising.
The assembly fixed on the left-hand end of the bed of the lathe
which provides the drive for the workpiece.
A split running radially away from the
The fully developed wood which surrounds the pith. It is often
darker in colour and harder than the sapwood which surrounds
it. The cells in the heartwood are dead and have ceased to transport
High speed steel (H.S.S.)
High speed steel; this is about 6 times harder than carbon steel.
HSS tools should be ground on a 'white' (aluminium oxide grinding
To sharpen a tool by hand on a stone.
An interior split, or group of splits,
in a block of wood - usually only found in larger sections.
Probably due to over-quick drying. Unfortunately, often not
discovered until work is in progress.
See Sizing tool
See high speed steel
Face turning which is carried out over the bed of the lathe,
ie on the right-hand of the headstock.
A plate used to lock the drive-shaft into a series of pre-set
regular positions. The plate is sometimes built into the lathe
and sometimes is a separate attachment used for specific jobs.
Originally a proprietary name for a type of drill chuck which
can also be held in the headstock or tailstock of a lathe. It
can be used to hold a small workpiece instead of a drill.
Lace bobbin drive
A drive centre with a recess in the outer end to accept a lace
A workpiece constructed from glued-up blocks. It should be allowed
to dry thoroughly after gluing and then turned with sharp tools
at a slow speed because centrifugal force can cause the pieces
A centre in the tailstock which revolves with the work. See
A means of holding a workpiece (or workpieces) by use of a rod
of wood or metal running through a central hole, as for toy
wheels and napkin rings.
See moisture content.
Medium density fibre board - a man made material used as an
alternative to wood.
Bundles of cells which run radially between the pith to the
cambium layer. They are much more easily seen in some woods,
such as oak, than others. The tree uses these cells for the
storage of nutrients.
The weight of the water in a sample of wood expressed as a percentage
of the weight of that sample when it is completely dry. Often
abbreviated to the M.C. of wood.
An electrical instrument for determining the moisture content
(MC) of wood. There are two types of meter. One type measures
the electrical resistance of the wood, the other measures the
dielectric property of the wood.
A standard taper on a drill chuck or lathe drive centre which
enables the device to be removed from. or attached to, the relevant
machine quickly and easily. Abbreviated to M.T.
See morse taper.
The lip of a bowl or a goblet which shows the outside of the
tree - often with the bark in place.
An elongated 'S' shaped curve.
Face turning which is carried out on an extension of the drive-shaft
on the left-hand side of the headstock, ie the opposite side
to the bed. Relative to the turner the workpiece will revolve
in the opposite direction as compared with turning over the
bed; as a consequence the drive spindle and attachments, such
as a faceplate, require reverse threads.
For parting off, ie cutting off the waste, or dividing the workpiece
A chuck with a wooden or, more usually, a metal pin which is
jammed into a hole drilled in the workpiece.
The narrow channel in the innermost part of the tree, its trunk,
each branch and twig,
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
A pharmaceutical product which is sometime used by wood workers
to stabilise unseasoned timber. It is available in several grades
- PEG 1000 is the grade used by wood workers. When unseasoned
wood is submerged in a solution of PEG 1000 the PEG is drawn
into the wood by the process of osmosis and replaces the water.
Given sufficient time the PEG will replace all the water in
the wood. After the wood is removed from the solution the PEG
will set in the pores to prevent shrinking cracking and distortion.
Precision Combination Chuck
A popular proprietary chuck with attachments
which can perform many of the functions performed by the chucks
listed here. It work on the basis of expanding or contracting
collets. Nowadays, scroll chucks are preferred.
A section of the workpiece in spindle turning which is left
square, eg when turning legs for chairs or tables.
See tool rest.
A live or a dead centre in the tailstock which has a small point
set in the middle of a ring. The point locates the centre whilst
the ring bears on the surface of the workpiece thus limiting
the penetration of the wood. This helps to prevent splitting
and is particularly useful for built-up or split turnings. See
See cup shake.
Roughing out gouge (or roughing gouge)
Used in spindle turning for reducing square stock to round section.
It has a semicircular section and is ground square across. The
bevel angle should be around 35° to 45°. A roughing
gouge is for spindle work and should not be used for face turning,
eg on bowls.
Figure found in wood which has wavy grain, eg ripple sycamore.
See also fiddleback.
There are two possible meanings for this expression.
The reduction of a square piece of timber to a round
section. This is done with a roughing gouge.
The preliminary work on turning a bowl. A beginner should
never use a roughing gouge for this.
This surrounds the heartwood. It transports the sap from the
roots to the leaves.
When a log is converted to boards it may be cut in a number
of ways. The three terms most commonly encountered are:
through and through, and
When back sawn the log is converted in such a way as
to provide the maximum number of cuts tangential to the growth
When quarter sawn the log is converted in such a way
as to provide the maximum number of cuts radial to the centre
of the log. Quarter sawn wood is usually more stable, ie less
prone to warping, shrinking and splitting, than that produced
by other cuts. Often, it also has a more attractive figure because
of the oblique way in which the medullary rays are cut, particularly
in oak, sapele, London plane (lacewood), and sycamore (fiddleback).
Through and through (often abbreviated to T & T or T/T)
refers to boards produced by simply sawing through the log in
a series of parallel slices. A log sawn this way will produce
some back sawn boards, some quarter sawn boards, and some in
Sawtooth machine bit
A special type of bit only used for drilling wood. It makes
a hole with a flat bottom except for a small centre mark. Sawtooth
bits will cut end grain and cross grain.
(Lathe) tools which are designed to scrape the surface. Scraper
tools are available with a number of different plan shapes,
such as round nose, V-tip and squared off.
Scraping cuts on the lathe are specific cuts where the bevel
of the tool is held clear of the wood.
A chuck with a single screw fixed in the
centre to which the workpiece can be attached.
A four-jaw chuck, now very popular amongst
woodturners. So named because the teeth on the underside of
the jaws engage in a raised spiral (ie scroll) on the back-plate.
Movement of the back-plate causes the jaws to move in or out
The first step in the finishing process. A sealer is applied
to the bare wood to act as a barrier to the ingress of moisture
and dirt. It also serves as a grain filler and as a base for
further finishing coats.
Drying green wood to a serviceable level.
Air dried: dried by exposure to the air without the use
of artifical heat.
Kiln dried: dried in a kiln (or oven) with the aid of
See laminated work.
Shallow fluted gouge
See spindle gouge.