Glossary Intro and Glossary Annexes

Glossary S:

SAB: Select and Better

a lumber grading term

S4S: Surfaced Four Sides

Indicates that the lumber has been planed smooth on all four sides. See Jointer/Planer syllabus.

Saber Saw

click here for extended entry


See Shop Safety 


[in progress 4-9-07]

first use of sandblasting For decorating, engraving or cutting wood, glass or other hard materials -- using air or steam for pressure -- a stream of fine sand is projected upon a hard surface. Also for removing scale and/or rust from iron and steel.

Historically, sandblasting emerges in the latter part of the nineteenth century as a technique used in mining. As a technique in woodworking, sandblasting's first application is ?

The example on the left, from Making of America database, is for 1880. (My Barnhart Etymological Dictionary and the OED claim the first use of "sand-blasting" circa 1871, although exact source is obscure.)

Source:[Anonymous] "The World's Work", Scribners monthly, an illustrated magazine for the people. 20, Issue 3  July 1880 pages 476-479.


Our first adventure into texturing was in the mid-1980s, when we were making wooden fruit, mainly apples.... [A]n order to make 500 apple-shaped boxes in applewood for the New York Times (the Big Apple), with "New York Times" engraved on them. Sandblasting seemed a possibility for the engraving. ... While trying out sandblasting as a technique for putting letters on wood, we realized it had a greater potential for surface decoration. We explored the effect on various types of wood, both side grain and end grain, looking at pattern and texture, trying different types of masking and stencils, creating surfaces that ranged from a weathered driftwood look to finely detailed designs with crisp, hard edges.

Source: Liz & Michael O'Donnell, Decorating Turned Wood: The Maker's Eye. New York: Sterling, 2002. Page 128
sandblasted bowl by ron grant[temporary  image --  sandblasted bowl by my friend Ron Grant]



According to Michael Ettema, research curator at Grand Rapids Public Museum,

"Powered sanding machines probably appeared in furniture factories in the latter part of the nineteenth century, together with power transmission systems."

Early versions of power sanders -- simple devices -- consisted of sandpaper sheets attached to a rotating disk or drum, or a sandpaper belt rotated between two cylinders. Actual sanding operations required that workpieces be hand-held or placed on a table and advanced to the sandpaper by hand. Gauging the amount of wood to be removed depended on the operator's judgment. More complex variations of the machine included a rotating sandpaper disk or belt mounted on a flexible frame moved by hand across a large, flat workpiece such as a table top. "Machines that automatically fed the work to sanding drums appeared in trade literature by the 1880s."

Source: Michael Ettema, "Technological Innovation and Design Economics in Furniture Manufacture", Winterthur Portfolio 16 1981, pages 197-223.


for extended entry, click here


See Circular Saw See also Japanese Flush Cut and Rip Dozuki Saws

Saw Horses

also known as Carpenter's Trestles. On Carpenter's Trestles, "In 'ripping' planks or pieces of wood of a few feet in length, a pair of carpenter's trestles will be required; and these will allow a knee to be placed on the plank to hold it steady, if necessary, either in ripping or cross-cutting." Source: George Ashdown Audsley, Amateur Joinery in the Home: A Practical Manual for the Amateur Joiner on the Construction of Articles of Domestic Furniture. Boston: Small, Maynard, and Co, 1916, p. 29.



See Draw-knife


A tool used for smoothing. Used almost exclusively prior to the invention of sandpaper and still capable of producing smooth, flat finish or removing glue squeeze out.

Scratch Stock


screw (a) 1404 scrwe: cylinder with a spiral groove or ridge, screw; 1497, skrewe.

Evidently borrowed from Middle French escroue nut, cylindrical socket, hole in which a screw turns. Traces from Gallo-Romance; but even earlier, scroba, altered from Latin scrobis hole.

Germanic forms apparently derived through Low German schruve from Old French. The spelling with -ew was influenced by dew, flew, etc. The figure tive sense of a means of pressure or coercion is found in English in 1648-49. —v. to turn as one turns a screw. twist. 1599, in Ben Jonson's Every Man in His Humour, from the noun.

Sources: W L Goodman, The History of Woodworking Tools, London: Bell, 1966; Robert K Barnhart, ed., The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology New York: H W Wilson, 1988; Witold Rybczynski, One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw, 2000; M Shayt, "One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw", Technology and Culture 2001.


1799 screwdriver, as noun.


Sources: Robert K Barnhart, ed., The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology New York: H W Wilson, 1988; Witold Rybczynski, One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw, 2000; M Shayt, "One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw", Technology and Culture 2001.

variety of screwdrivers

Witold Rybczynski, One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw, 2000

M Shayt, "One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw", Technology and Culture 2001

Scroll Saw

A saw with a fine wire or narrow flat blade. Used to cut intricate shapes and inside contours. The blade has a short, up-and-down stroke like a sewing machine. For more click here

Seasoning of wood

(Adapted from Mario Dal Fabbro's How to Build Modern Furniture, 1951, page 3:
It is essential that wood be well seasoned before it is used. The usual methods are as follows:

Natural seasoning (sometimes called Air Drying): In this method sawn wood is exposed to free air after it has been carefully stacked, through a procedure called  Sticking, best illustrated with a photo. While the seasoning is slow, wood processed in this way is the least subject to splitting, warpage, or decay.

Water seasoning: claimed as a "somewhat quicker method of seasoning consists of immersing the wood in running water for about one month". As this process occurs, "the water entering the pores of the wood washes out the sap". Following this process with water, the wood is dried in the open air.

Artificial seasoning: The quickest method for seasoning, this method the wood is placed in a drying Kiln. A current of hot air is allowed to circulate continuously between the layers of wood. In some cases steam is used. 

Etymologically, seasoning, that is as a verb, as in "the seasoning of wood" dates to the 17th century -- the source being the oft quoted Joseph Moxon , in Mechanick Exercises (London, 1703; reprint, New York: Praeger Publishers, 1970) (the OED shows 1679, but my edition is 1703) b. To become seasoned.
1679 MOXON Mech. Exerc. ix. 155 They generally Rough~plain their Boards ... that they may set them by to season.
1881 Cassell's Fam. Mag. VII. 511 An artificial method ... which has the effect of ageing the wood in a few hours, as well as if it had been kept seasoning for years. [from oed  too, but needs  checking  --  why "artificial"?]

 Title: Encyclopedia of architecture. A dictionary of the science and practice of architecture, building, carpentry, etc., from the earliest ages to the present time, froming a comprehensive work of reference for the use of architects, builders, carpenters, masons, engineers, students, professional men, and amateurs. By Peter Nicholson ... Edited by Edward Lomax and Thomas Gunyon ... Illustrated with two hundred and thirty engravings on steel, mostly from working drawings in detail. In two volumes.
Author:  Nicholson, Peter, 1765-1844.
Publication Info: New York,: Johnson, Fry & co., [185-?].
Collection: Making of America Books

Click on this link
DESICCATION, (Latin, desicco, to dry), the act of making dry; it is the chemical operation of drying bodies, and is effected in different modes, according to the nature of the substance. The term, Desiccating Process, has been applied to a patented invention, (Davison and Symington's Patent), for seasoning or drying a great variety of substances. It is said to have been used with success in seasoning wood.


A drawing of an object showing how the object would appear if it were cut apart at a given Plane. Section views appear on Working Drawings to reveal the inner construction of the object. home craftsman 4 march april 1935, p 172.

Select and Better

A lumber grade

Serpentine Front

A curved front, that, alternately, is concave and convex, of a piece of furniture as a Desk, Secretary or Chest. home craftsman 4 march april 1935, p 172



Relating to "line-shaft", an innovation of the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century,  where "belt" power was needed to drive all of a factory's power machine tools, a rotating "shaft", solid or hollow, to which is attached pulleys, transmitted power or motion by rotation. These operation were known then as being "shaft-driven". Between the half century span, 1880 to 1930, the production and distribution of mechanical power shifted rapidly from water and steam systems  -- with shafts and belt drive systems -- to electric motors driving individual machines. According to Warren D. Devine, an economic historian, "The use of electricity reduced the energy required to drive machinery," but, significantly, this shift from shaft to individual induction motors powering individual power tools "enabled industry to obtain greater output per unit of capital and labor input." Among other things, Devine continues, the "reduced energy needs and increased productivity in manufacturing influenced the relationship between energy consumption and gross national product in the first three decades of the twentieth century."

Source: Warren D. Devine,   "From Shafts to Wires: Historical Perspective on Electrification," Journal of Economic History, Vol. 43, No. 2 June 1983, pages 347-372. also study on electrification by David Paul.

Shank Hole

The shank hole is to allow the shank part of a screw, that area with no threads on it, to move effortlessly through the wood. Notice that bits for predrilling screws have a narrow part on the end, then a wider part, then some will have a tapered part, the last is the countersink for flat headed wood screws, the middle is the shank area and the narrow part is for the threads.


Also Router

Shaper Cutters

click on this link for discussion of  Router Bits, Shaper Cutters and Jointer and Molding Knives.

Shaving Horse

[include material by James R. Blackaby,"How the Workbench Changed the Nature of Work American Heritage Of Invention & Technology. fall 1986,: 26-30 ISSN:



cross reference with Bushing

Shooting Board

Also Miter Shoot click here

Shop Safety

Rule number one: Use common sense! If your intuition tells you something is dangerous -- especially for power tools, it's probably dangerous. Proceed with caution. 

Rule number two: Listen to your machines while they are operating. Like operating your automobile, be aware of strange sounds. While a machine is operating, if something doesn't sound right, turn it off!

Rule number three: On tablesaws, feed smaller workpieces into rotating blade with a Push Stick, and/or use Featherboards.  Always feed work into the rotation of the blades and/or cutters. A rotating circular blade on a tablesaw throws wood! Don't rip on a Radial Arm Saw. A router bit, lose in its Collet, rotating at 24,000 RPMs, is a lethal weapon.

Rule Number four: Keep a push stick or push block nearby to complete cuts.

Rule number five: For all shaper and router operations, wear safety glasses, a dust mask, and hearing protection.

Rule number six: When feeding workpieces into rotating cutters and/or bits, avoid awkward hand positions; always keep your hands clear of the cutters.

Rule number seven: Before installing cutters or making adjustments, always unplug the tablesaw, the shaper or the router. 

Rule number eight: When routing freehand, clamp stock to a work surface.  

Rule number nine: Do not shape or rout work that is warped or that contains loose knots or foreign objects such as screws or nails.

Rule number ten:  On shaper spindles and router collets, watch constantly for Runout

Sources:  Alan Marco "Woodworkers' First Aid" Fine Woodworking?


[ 8-18-08] See discussions of Shopsmith history on these pages: invention, late 1940s; developments in 1950s


[adapted from a post on SS10ERusers, 6-17-07; editing 8-16-08] The speed changer -- a very ingenious mechanism, a more generic term for it is a variator -- When set up correctly the belts do not slip and it does not (intentionally) induce drag. When you adjust the crank, the axle of the pulley assembly is raised and lowered. SS with speed changer Since the belts do not stretch, when the pulley is raised the motor belt pulls down into the groove forcing the center floating portion of the pulley

This narrows the groove of the upper belt taking up the slack created by raising the assembly. It is beautiful in its simplicity but difficult to describe. When the machines set unused for years it is common for the center floating portion of the assembly to stick from rust or dried grease.

Without knowing how the mechanism works this creates real problems for new owners. If you crank the adjuster too hard the aluminum supports for the adjuster rod will break off. Sadly, I have seen way too many in that condition and have repaired a bunch of them.

The speed changer has two operating ranges depending on how you orient the belts. Low range gives rpm from around 450 to 1800. High range from around 2000 to 6600 rpm.

One disadvantage is that most lathe and drill press work are in the low range and the table saw operates in the high range so belt changing is necessary when changing modes.

A second disadvantage is that the two belt system creates a lot of power loss between the motor and spindle.

When you start with 1/2 HP that doesn't leave a lot. It still works pretty good for most lathe and drill press work but really can be a problem in saw mode.

Many users will remove the speed changer pulley and go to direct drive for table saw use. Sadly, this requires reversing the motor pulley orientation also so if you do it often it can be a real pain.

That is why variable speed dc or ac motors are really nice to have. They make the machine the best of both worlds.

Since the table saw is also the most compromised function of the multipurpose machine, the ideal shop in my opinion will have a nice table saw to complement the 10ER, space permitting of course.

[Below is a cut=away of the speed changing mechanism used on Mark IV and later models of Shopsmith. In addition, notice on the upper right portion of the image a cutaway of the "quill and lever" setup.]

 shopsmith mark IV speed dial



[under construction] In woodworking, the term, Spindle, has several meanings. In the furniture field, a spindle is a slender rod, sometimes rounded, but -- in Arts and Crafts designs -- also square. In its round format, usually tapering toward each end, as in the Windsor chair.  In the tool field, a spindle is a rotating rod or arbor; it can be solid or hollow. A spindle, for example, is used in a drill press—at one end is the chuck and at the other is the drive wheel.

shaper spindles

One meaning is for the mechanism on shapers designed to hold shaper cutters securely while the motor rotates the cutters at speeds that range from 4,500 to 10,000 revolutions per minute. Below, on left, is a spindle for a shaper, but fitted with an adapter to make a  shaper a "router

shaper spindle with router bit adapter

windsor chair

A second meaning identifies the "basic elements on the back of a Windsor chair", that is the slender round pieces of wood that stretch from "sockets" the Windsor's seat to the "hoop-back". Below the seat are another set of slender pieces of wood, the "stretchers", similar to spindles, whose function is to stabilize the Windsor's legs.

Spindles in the Arts and Crafts style


Steel Square (Roofing, Rafter or Framing Square)

Click here for an extended entry on the steel square

Stile and Rail

label for source code

These are terms applied to the upright and lateral members of a framework, such as a cabinet door. Mostly, stiles run the full length of the door's frame, and rails are fitted between them, usually with mortise and tenon joints. (The space between the stiles and rails is filled in with a panel.) In a door, according to its mode of "hanging", stiles are often often identified according to whether the stile is the "hinge" stile or the "closing" stile.


, but see Spindle, above