Glossary of saw terms

 
     
     
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Binding

 
 Binding 

When sawing, the material can close against the sides of the saw blade, causing it to become stuck. This is known as binding.

 
     
   

Cutting stroke

 
 Cutting stroke 

The actual process of sawing involves a push stroke and a pull stroke.

 

The ‘cutting stroke’ is the one on which the cutting action actually takes place. Saws will either cut on the push stroke only, the pull stroke only, or both.

 
     
   

Dovetail joint

 
 Dovetail joint 

A dovetail joint is a type of mortise and tenon joint, and is commonly used when making furniture. A tenon is a projecting piece of wood that fits into a mortise, which is a recess cut into another piece of wood. The tenon must fit tightly into the mortise in order to create a secure joint.

 

Compared to a standard joint, the mortises and tenons of a dovetail joint are tapered, resembling the fan of a dove’s tail. 

 
     
   

Ferrous metals

 
 Ferrous metals 

Ferrous metals are those that contain iron.

 

Examples include: stainless steel, medium and high carbon steel, cast iron and high speed steel.

 
     
   

Hardness

 
 Scratches  

Its hardness is a material’s ability to resist scratches or abrasion.

 
     
   

Hardwood

 
 Hardwood 

Hardwoods come from deciduous trees (ones that lose their leaves in the winter). Examples of hardwoods include: beech, ash, teak and oak.

 

Generally, hardwoods are more dense and therefore harder to cut.

 
     
   

Kerf

 
 Kerf 

When learning about saws you may come across the term ‘kerf’.

 

There are several different definitions but the most common seems to be that the kerf is the slit made by the saw’s blade.

 
     
   

Marking out

 
 Marking out 

The marking of shapes or lines on to a material prior to it being sawn is a process known as "marking out". These marks serve as a guide when you begin sawing. 

 

Accurate marking is very important if you plan on joining two pieces of material together securely. 

 

 
     
   

Mortise and tenon joint

 
 Mortise and tenon joint 

Mortise and tenon joints are commonly use in furniture-making.

 

A tenon is a projecting piece of wood that fits into a mortise, which is a recess cut into another piece of wood. The tenon must fit tightly into the mortise in order to create a secure joint. A mortise and tenon joint requires careful and precise sawing and is usually done with a tenon saw.

 
     
   

Non-ferrous metals

 
 Non-ferrous metals 

Non-ferrous metals are those that do not contain iron. Examples include: copper, aluminium, zinc, brass and tin.

 
     
   

Plumb

 
 

Plumb cut and curved cut

 

Plumb just means 'straight' and is a term often used when talking about the cut made by a saw. 

 
     
   

Softwood

 
 Softwood 

Softwoods come from coniferous (evergreen) trees. Example of softwoods include: fir, pine and cedar.

 

Generally softwoods are less dense and are therefore easier to cut.

 
     
   

Tearout

 
 
Tearout
 

When sawing through wood, the fibres can tear away from the surface leaving a rough finish.

 

For more information see How to achieve a neat finish.

 
     
 

 

 

Timber

 
 Timber 

The term for trees after they have been cut down.

 
     
   

Toughness

 
 Shattered saw blade 

Its toughness is a material’s ability to withstand blows or sudden shocks without breaking or becoming deformed.

 
     
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