Learn the language: Common carpentry terms

If you’re contemplating a home remodeling project in 2012, it wouldn’t hurt for you to know a few carpentry terms when talking to the contractor you hire or plan to hire for the job. Here are twenty of the more common descriptions used in the business:

1. Bottom plate: The lowest horizontal framing component in the wall. The bottom plate may also be referred to as a soleplate, because most of the other framing components rely solely on this plate for support.

2. Ceiling joist: A wood or steel beam positioned horizontally between the top sides of the wall frame. Finished ceiling material and rafters are nailed to these beams for support.

3. Doubler or doubled: Two structural components nailed together to double the strength of the support.

4. Finish or finished carpentry: A type of carpentry that focuses on cabinetry, model building, fine woodworking, joinery, parquetry and other similar projects that involve acute attention to detail.

5. Gable: The most common type of roof that features a simple design where the rafters are the same length and pitch on each side, and meet in the middle of the span. Essentially, any roof that fits the prototype of a standard triangle roof would be considered a gable.

6. Girder: A basic support system used in a variety of construction projects that is usually made of steel in an L- shaped style of cross-section. It is strategically designed this way to improve strength and support for the weight it bears.

7. Header: A support beam located horizontally above the door, window or other opening in the building. The main purpose of the header is to support the structural components above the opening.

8. Journeyman: A term used in carpentry to describe a carpenter who has completed an apprentice program in a local union. The term may also apply to any carpenter who has extensive experience in the carpentry trade.

9. Load-bearing wall: Any wall in the structure that acts as foundational support for a load resting upon it. These walls are usually composed of sturdy materials, such as brick, block or concrete.

10. Miter cut: A simple, angled cut at the end of a board. The technique is most commonly used in slope roofing.

11. Non load-bearing wall: Also referred to as a curtain wall, provides no significant support for any structures above it, other than the support necessary to bear its own weight.

12. On center: Commonly abbreviated as "O.C.," on center refers to the measurement from one structural member to another.

13. Plumb: A line that is precisely perpendicular or vertical to a level horizontal line. It is often used as an adjective in carpentry.

14. Punch list: A list designed to organize a construction project by detailing all of the tasks needed to be completed throughout the project. It is also commonly referred to as a "snag list."

15. Rafter: Any framing member of the roof of a building. More commonly, a rafter refers specifically to a beam forming a portion of the internal framework of a roof.

16. Rise: In relation to stairs, or stair treads, the measured distance between a single step, staircase or rafter. The rise is usually measured from a vertical angle.

17. Rough carpentry: Involves roofing, framing, form work and other difficult, large-scale structural projects that do not necessarily have to be polished or finely designed.

18. Rough opening: Commonly abbreviated as R.O., a rough opening refers to all of the leaves in a framing wall for an opening such as a door or window.

19. Stringer: The primary support system for a staircase. The riser and tread components of the staircase are attached to the stringer to ensure full support.

20. Truss: A single piece of a pre-manufactured roofing system, which is usually built off-site and delivered to the site for installation.

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