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Woodworking is the activity or skill of making items from wood, and includes cabinet making (cabinetry and furniture), wood carving, joinery, carpentry, and woodturning.
Along with stone, clay and animal parts, wood was one of the first materials worked by early humans. Microwear analysis of the Mousterian stone tools used by the Neanderthals show that many were used to work wood. The development of civilization was closely tied to the development of increasingly greater degrees of skill in working these materials.
Among early finds of wooden tools are the worked sticks from Kalambo Falls, Clacton-on-Sea and Lehringen. The spears from Schöningen (Germany) provide some of the first examples of wooden hunting gear. Flint tools were used for carving. Since Neolithic times, carved wooden vessels are known, for example, from the Linear Pottery culture wells at Kückhofen and Eythra.
Examples of Bronze Age wood-carving include tree trunks worked into coffins from northern Germany and Denmark and wooden folding-chairs. The site of Fellbach-Schmieden in Germany has provided fine examples of wooden animal statues from the Iron Age. Wooden idols from the La Tène period are known from a sanctuary at the source of the Seine in France.
There is significant evidence of advanced woodworking in ancient Egypt.Woodworking is depicted in many extant ancient Egyptian drawings, and a considerable amount of ancient Egyptian furniture (such as stools, chairs, tables, beds, chests) have been preserved. Tombs represent a large collection of these artefacts and the inner coffins found in the tombs were also made of wood. The metal used by the Egyptians for woodworking tools was originally copper and eventually, after 2000 BC bronze as ironworking was unknown until much later.
Commonly used woodworking tools included axes, adzes, chisels, pull saws, and bow drills. Mortise and tenon joints are attested from the earliest Predynastic period. These joints were strengthened using pegs, dowels and leather or cord lashings. Animal glue came to be used only in the New Kingdom period.Ancient Egyptians invented the art of veneering and used varnishes for finishing, though the composition of these varnishes is unknown. Although different native acacias were used, as was the wood from the local sycamore and tamarisk trees, deforestation in the Nile valley resulted in the need for the importation of wood, notably cedar, but also Aleppo pine, boxwood and oak, starting from the Second Dynasty.
Woodworking was essential to the Romans. It provided, sometimes the only, material for buildings, transportation, tools, and household items. Wood also provided pipes, dye, waterproofing materials, and energy for heat. 1Although most examples of Roman woodworking have been lost, :2 the literary record preserved much of the contemporary knowledge. Vitruvius dedicates an entire chapter of his De architectura to timber, preserving many details. Pliny, while not a botanist, dedicated six books of his Natural History to trees and woody plants, providing a wealth of information on trees and their uses.:
The progenitors of Chinese woodworking are considered to be Lu Ban (魯班) and his wife Lady Yun, from the Spring and Autumn period (771 to 476 BC). Lu Ban is said to have introduced the plane, chalk-line, and other tools to China. His teachings were supposedly left behind in the book Lu Ban Jing (魯班經, "Manuscript of Lu Ban"). Despite this, it is believed that the text was written some 1500 years after his death. This book is filled largely with descriptions of dimensions for use in building various items such as flower pots, tables, altars, etc., and also contains extensive instructions concerning Feng Shui. It mentions almost nothing of the intricate glue-less and nail-less joinery for which Chinese furniture was so famous.
With the advances in modern technology and the demands of industry, woodwork as a field has changed. The development of Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) Machines, for example, has made us able to mass-produce and reproduce products faster, with less waste, and often more complex in design than ever before. CNC wood routers can carve complicated and highly detailed shapes into flat stock, to create signs or art. Rechargeable power tools speed up creation of many projects and require much less body strength than in the past, for example when boring multiple holes. Skilled fine woodworking, however, remains a craft pursued by many. There remains demand for hand crafted work such as furniture and arts, however with rate and cost of production, the cost for consumers is much higher.
Historically, woodworkers relied upon the woods native to their region, until transportation and trade innovations made more exotic woods available to the craftsman. Woods are typically sorted into three basic types: hardwoods typified by tight grain and derived from broadleaf trees, softwoods from coniferous trees, and man-made materials such as plywood and MDF.
Hardwoods, botanically known as angiosperms, are deciduous and shed their leaves annually with temperature changes.Softwoods come from trees botanically known as gymnosperms, which are coniferous, cone-bearing, and stay green year round. Although a general pattern, softwoods are not necessarily always “softer” than hardwoods, and vice versa.
Softwood is most commonly found in the regions of the world with lower temperatures and is typically less durable, lighter in weight, and more vulnerable to pests and fungal attacks in comparison to hardwoods. They typically have a paler color and a more open grain than hardwoods, which contributes to the tendency of felled softwood to shrink and swell as it dries.Softwoods usually have a lower density, around 432-592 kg/m³, which can compromise its strength. Density, however, does vary within both softwoods and hardwoods depending on the wood's geographical origin and growth rate. However, the lower density of softwoods also allows it to have a greater strength with lighter weight. In the United States, softwoods are typically cheaper and more readily available and accessible. Most softwoods are suitable for general construction, especially framing, trim, and finish work, and carcassing.
Hardwoods are separated into two categories, temperate and tropical hardwoods, depending on their origin. Temperate hardwoods are found in the regions between the tropics and poles, and are of particular interest to wood workers for their cost-effective aesthetic appeal and sustainable sources.Tropical hardwoods are found within the equatorial belt, including Africa, Asia, and South America. Hardwoods flaunt a higher density, around 1041 kg/m³ as a result of slower growing rates and is more stable when drying. As a result of its high density, hardwoods are typically heavier than softwoods but can also be more brittle. While there are an abundant number of hardwood species, only 200 are common enough and pliable enough to be used for woodworking. Hardwoods have a wide variety of properties, making it easy to find a hardwood to suit nearly any purpose, but they are especially suitable for outdoor use due to their strength and resilience to rot and decay. The coloring of hardwoods ranges from light to very dark, making it especially versatile for aesthetic purposes. However, because hardwoods are more closely grained, they are typically harder to work than softwoods. They are also harder to acquire in the United States and, as a result, are more expensive.
Typically furniture such as tables and chairs is made using solid stock from hardwoods due to its strength and resistance to warping.Additionally, they also have a greater variety of grain patterns and color and take a finish better which allows the woodworker to exercise a great deal of artistic liberty. Hardwoods can be cut more cleanly and leave less residue on sawblades and other woodworking tools. Cabinet/fixture makers employ the use of plywood and other man made panel products. Some furniture, such as the Windsor chair involve green woodworking, shaping with wood while it contains its natural moisture prior to drying.
Cedars are strong, aromatic softwoods that are capable of enduring outdoor elements, the most common of which is the Western Red Cedar. Western Red Cedar can sustain wet environments without succumbing to rot, and as a result is commonly used for outdoor projects such as patios, outdoor furniture, and building exteriors. This wood can be easily found at most home centers for a moderate price.
Within the USA Fir, also known as Douglas Fir, is very inexpensive and common at local home centers. It has a characteristic straight, pronounced grain with a red-brown tint. However, its grain pattern is relatively plain and it does not stain well, so Fir is commonly used when the finished product will be painted. While commonly used for building, this softwood would also be suitable for furniture-making.
White pine, ponderosa, and Southern yellow pine are common species used in furniture-making. White pine and ponderosa are typically used for indoor projects, while Southern yellow pine is recommended for outdoor projects due to its durability.
This hardwood is relatively easy to work with and takes stain well, but its white to light brown color with a straight grain is visually appealing on its own. However, ash is much more difficult to find than other common woods, and won’t be found at the local home center. Larger lumber yards should have it in stock.
Whether yellow or white birch, these hardwoods are stable and easy to work with. Despite this, Birch is prone to blotching when stained, so painting birch products is probably best. Birch is easily found at many home centers and is a relatively inexpensive hardwood.
Popular and easy to work with, cherry is in high demand for its reddish-brown color and ease of staining and finishing. Cherry likely won’t be at the local home center, but should be at a lumberyard for a somewhat expensive price.This hardwood is a very common material for furniture, and is resistant to normal wear-and-tear, but it is best for indoor pieces.
A hardwood, mahogany has a trademark reddish-brown to deep-red tint and is known as “one of the great furniture woods.” However, mahogany is not typically grown in sustainable forests, and thus runs a steep price at local lumber yards.
With two varieties, red and white, oak is known to be easy to work with and relatively strong. However, furniture makers often opt for white oak over red oak for its attractive figure and moisture-resistance.Depending on the kind needed, oak can probably be found at a local home center or a lumberyard for a bit pricier than other hardwoods.
With strength, sturdiness, and durability, maple is a common material for furniture for the bedroom and even china cabinets. Maple is moisture-resistant and frequently displays stand-out swirls in the wood grain, an aesthetically pleasing differentiator from other hardwoods. While most commonly a lighter color, maple also can take stains and paint well.
There are many factors to consider when deciding what type of wood to use for a project. One of the most important is the workability of the wood: the way in which it responds when worked by hand or tools, the quality of the grain, and how it responds to adhesives and finishes.When the workability of wood is high, it offers a lower resistance when cutting and has a diminished blunting effect on tools. Highly workable wood is easier to manipulate into desired forms. If the wood grain is straight and even, it will be much easier to create strong and durable glued joints. Additionally, it will help protect the wood from splitting when nailed or screwed. Coarse grains require a lengthy process of filing and rubbing down the grain to produce a smooth result.
Another important factor to be considered is the durability of the wood, especially in regards to moisture. If the finished project will be exposed to moisture (e.g. outdoor projects) or high humidity or condensation (e.g. in kitchens or bathrooms), then the wood needs to be especially durable in order to prevent rot. Because of their oily qualities, many tropical hardwoods such as teak and mahogany are popular for such applications.
Agba (Gossweilerodendron balsamiferum)
Alder (Alnus glutinosa)
Basswood (Tilia americana)
Obeah (Triplochiton scleroxylon)
Western Cedar (Thuja plicata)
Teak (Tectona grandis)
Iron (Milicia excelsa)
Jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata)
While many woods can be used for carving, there are some clear favorites, including Aspen, Basswood, Butternut, Black Walnut, and Oak.Because it has almost no grain and is notably soft, Basswood is particularly popular with beginner carvers. It is used in many lower-cost instruments like guitars and electric basses. Aspen is similarly soft, although slightly harder, and readily available and inexpensive. Butternut has a deeper hue than Basswood and Aspen and has a nice grain that is easy to carve, and thus friendly for beginners. It's also suitable for furniture. While more expensive that Basswood, Aspen, and Butternut, Black Walnut is a popular choice for its rich color and grain. Lastly, Oak is a strong, sturdy, and versatile wood for carving with a defined grain. It's also a popular wood for furniture making.
There are a variety of tools that can be used for woodworking. Each area of woodworking requires a different variation of tools. Power tools and hand tools are both used for woodworking. Many modern woodworkers choose to use power tools in their trade for the added ease and to save time. However, many choose to still use only hand tools for several reasons such as the experience and the added character to the work. While some choose to use only hand tools simply for their own enjoyment.
Hand tools are classified as tools that receive power only from the hands that are holding them. The more common modern hand tools are:
Clamps are used to hold your workpiece while either being cut, drilled, or glued. Clamps vary in all shapes and sizes from small c-clamps to very large bar or strap clamps.
Chisels are tools with a long blade, a cutting edge, and a handle. Used for cutting and shaping wood or other materials.
The claw hammer is the hammer of choice for anyone in woodworking because of the multi-use claw for pilling nails or prying against joints.
The square is used to measure perfect angles on any workpiece.There are many different types of squares available. The most common is a speed square.
A tape measure is a retractable ruler that has measurement increments as small as 1/32". This is the most convenient form of measuring tool because of its small size and it is easy to use.
Power tools are tools that are powered by an external energy such as a battery, motor, or a power cable connected to a wall outlet. The more common power tools are:
The drill is a tool used to drill a hole or to insert a screw into a workpiece.
A palm sander is a small powered sander that uses either a vibration or orbital motion to move a piece of sand paper upon the workpiece making very fine modifications in smoothing your product.
A compound miter saw, also known as a chop saw is a stationary saw used for making precise cuts across the grain path of a board. These cuts can be at any chosen angle that the particular saw is capable of.
A table saw is intended to make long precise cuts along the grain pattern of the board known as rip cuts. Most table saws offer the option of a beveled rip cut.
Thickness planers are used to smooth the surface of a board along with making them the exact thickness across the entire board. Hand planers are used only for surfacing a board or workpiece while removing more material than a sander.
The vertical band saw uses a long belt shaped blade (band) in order to make cuts such as sharp round corners or even safely sawing through round material. Sometimes, people think band saw and scroll saw both have same working capability but it is wrong. There is difference between band saw and scroll saw. The band saw is surprisingly strong tool to cut the wood.
Wood is a porous and fibrous structural tissue found in the stems and roots of trees and other woody plants. It is an organic material – a natural composite of cellulose fibers that are strong in tension and embedded in a matrix of lignin that resists compression. Wood is sometimes defined as only the secondary xylem in the stems of trees, or it is defined more broadly to include the same type of tissue elsewhere such as in the roots of trees or shrubs. In a living tree it performs a support function, enabling woody plants to grow large or to stand up by themselves. It also conveys water and nutrients between the leaves, other growing tissues, and the roots. Wood may also refer to other plant materials with comparable properties, and to material engineered from wood, or wood chips or fiber.
Timber, also known as lumber in North American English, is a type of wood that has been processed into beams and planks, a stage in the process of wood production. Lumber is mainly used for structural purposes but has many other uses as well.
Plywood is a material manufactured from thin layers or "plies" of wood veneer that are glued together with adjacent layers having their wood grain rotated up to 90 degrees to one another. It is an engineered wood from the family of manufactured boards which include medium-density fibreboard (MDF) and particle board (chipboard).
Wood carving is a form of woodworking by means of a cutting tool (knife) in one hand or a chisel by two hands or with one hand on a chisel and one hand on a mallet, resulting in a wooden figure or figurine, or in the sculptural ornamentation of a wooden object. The phrase may also refer to the finished product, from individual sculptures to hand-worked mouldings composing part of a tracery.
Medium-density fibreboard (MDF) is an engineered wood product made by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into wood fibres, often in a defibrator, combining it with wax and a resin binder, and forming it into panels by applying high temperature and pressure. MDF is generally more dense than plywood. It is made up of separated fibres, but can be used as a building material similar in application to plywood. It is stronger, and more dense, than particle board.
Softwood is wood from gymnosperm trees such as conifers, as well as Amborella. The term is opposed to hardwood, which is the wood from angiosperm trees.
Hardwood is wood from dicot trees. These are usually found in broad-leaved temperate and tropical forests. In temperate and boreal latitudes they are mostly deciduous, but in tropics and subtropics mostly evergreen. Hardwood contrasts with softwood.
A cutting board is a durable board on which to place material for cutting. The kitchen cutting board is commonly used in preparing food; other types exist for cutting raw materials such as leather or plastic. Kitchen cutting boards are often made of wood or plastic and come in various widths and sizes. There are also cutting boards made of glass, steel, or marble, which are easier to clean than wooden or plastic ones such as nylon or corian, but tend to damage knives due to their hardness. Rough cutting edges—such as serrated knives—abrade and damage a cutting surface more rapidly than do smooth cutting implements.
Treen is a generic name for small handmade functional household objects made of wood. Treen is distinct from furniture, such as chairs, and cabinetry, as well as clocks and cupboards. Before the late 17th century, when silver, pewter, and ceramics were introduced for tableware, most small household items, boxes and tableware were carved from wood. Today, treen is highly collectable for its beautiful patina and tactile appeal.
Woodturning is the craft of using the wood lathe with hand-held tools to cut a shape that is symmetrical around the axis of rotation. Like the potter's wheel, the wood lathe is a simple mechanism which can generate a variety of forms. The operator is known as a turner, and the skills needed to use the tools were traditionally known as turnery. In pre-industrial England, these skills were sufficiently difficult to be known as 'the misterie' of the turners guild. The skills to use the tools by hand, without a fixed point of contact with the wood, distinguish woodturning and the wood lathe from the machinists lathe, or metal-working lathe.
Pyrography or pyrogravure is the free handed art of decorating wood or other materials with burn marks resulting from the controlled application of a heated object such as a poker. It is also known as pokerwork or wood burning.
A biscuit joiner is a woodworking tool used to join two pieces of wood together. A biscuit joiner uses a small circular saw blade to cut a crescent-shaped hole in the opposite edges of two pieces of wood or wood composite panels. An oval-shaped, highly dried and compressed wooden biscuit is covered with glue, or glue is applied in the slot. The biscuit is immediately placed in the slot, and the two boards are clamped together. The wet glue expands the biscuit, further improving the bond.
A miter saw is a saw used to make accurate crosscuts and miters in a workpiece by positioning a mounted blade onto a board. A miter saw in its earliest form was composed of a back saw in a miter box, but in modern implementation consists of a powered circular saw that can be positioned at a variety of angles and lowered onto a board positioned against a backstop. Powered miter saws are also commonly referred to as chop saws.
In furniture-making, the upholstery frame of a piece of furniture gives the structural support and determines the basic shape of the upholstered furniture. The frame may be a basic piece of wooden furniture prior to its being upholstered. Like a finished piece of furniture prior to the upholstering, the frame establishes the final quality, including its durability, and sets limits upon the final design, padding, cushioning, or cover.
In woodworking, veneer refers to thin slices of wood and sometimes bark, usually thinner than 3 mm, that typically are glued onto core panels to produce flat panels such as doors, tops and panels for cabinets, parquet floors and parts of furniture. They are also used in marquetry. Plywood consists of three or more layers of veneer. Normally, each is glued with its grain at right angles to adjacent layers for strength. Veneer beading is a thin layer of decorative edging placed around objects, such as jewelry boxes. Veneer is also used to replace decorative papers in Wood Veneer HPL. Veneer is also a type of manufactured board.
Segmented turning, also known as polychromatic turning, is a form of woodturning on a lathe where the initial workpiece is composed of multiple parts glued together. The process involves gluing several pieces of wood to create patterns and visual effects in turned projects.
This glossary of woodworking lists a number of specialized terms and concepts used in woodworking, carpentry, and related disciplines.
Amish furniture is furniture manufactured by the Amish, primarily of Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Ohio. It is generally known as being made completely out of wood, usually without particle board or laminate. The styles most often used by the Amish woodworkers are generally more traditional in nature.
Heat bending is the procedure of bending thin sheets of wood into different curves and shapes using moisture and a bending iron. By placing the sheet of wood into water, the moisture and heat from the bending iron will reform the structure of the wood, reorganizing the fibers of the wood to prevent the wood from springing back to its original state. This process is usually used for making sides or "ribs" for violins, guitars, mandolins and other projects, and also for woodworking such as shaker-style pantry boxes.
Steam bending is a woodworking technique where wood is exposed to steam to make it pliable. Heat and moisture from steam can soften wood fibres enough so they can be bent and stretched, and when cooled down they will hold their new shape.