Can You Pass This Carpentry Quiz in Under 7 Minutes?

By: John Miller

Can You Pass This Carpentry Quiz in Under 7 Minutes?
Image: Monty Rakusen/Cultura/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Whether you think of it as a profit-making trade or an artful craft, carpentry is one of humankind’s most useful skills. We use advanced carpentry to build our homes, fill them with cabinets and various types of furniture, and much more. It’s no simple discipline – many of the best carpenters need years or even decades to hone their hands and minds to make lumber and wood do exactly what they want it to. In this knotty and perplexing quiz, how much do you know about the tools and concepts of carpentry?

Carpentry is work that’s steeped in history and lore. It’s also a mostly male-dominated industry, particularly in the United States, where nearly 100% of these workers are men. In home construction, carpenters train as apprentices to fine-tune their skills, learning basic framing, joining and cutting techniques that can make or break a structure. How much do you know about the basics of lumber and construction?

Framing walls and fashioning roofs is one thing. Fine art woodworking requires another set of skills and mental processes. With practice, these carpenters can create gorgeous furniture and items of beauty that match the quality of the homes they build.

Take a saw to this carpentry quiz now! We’ll see if you’re a job foreman or if you’ll be forever stuck as nail-pulling apprentice.

How do you make sure that the head of a nail rests below the surface of wood?
Nail polish
Nail set
A nail set is a metal finishing tool. Its purpose is to push the head of the nail just a bit lower than the wood surface for a more finished look.
Nail gun
Hammer gun

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When you hear workers referring to "one-bys," what are they talking about?
Saws
Lumber
One-bys are lumber that's about an inch thick. One-bys are vital for a plethora of construction purposes.
Nails
Drills

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The sole plate -- the lowest horizontal framing member in a wall -- is often called what?
Head plate
Bottom plate
Whether you call it the sole plate or the bottom plate, it's the same thing. And these low horizontal framing members are critical to many structures.
Dinner plate
Small plate

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What does it mean if you "dry fit" pieces of wood?
You rub them together.
You test their fit without glue.
It generally makes sense to fit your wood pieces together without any sort of glue. This "dry fitting" step can save you a lot of headaches … and messes.
You place them in front of a heater.
You condition them.

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What's the purpose of a cat's paw?
To create handcrafted mousetraps
To scratch wood surfaces
To remove embedded nails
A cat's paw is a specialized carpentry tool. It's used to grab onto and then extract nails that are imbedded into a piece of lumber.
To bury sawdust

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Can you finish this common carpentry rule? "Measure twice, cut ____."
Once
"Measure twice, cut once." It's a maxim of carpentry, and even experienced carpenters have to remind themselves how important this principle is.
Twice
Thrice
Fifteen times

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Drills are used for many purposes. What sort of bit cuts large holes?
Metal bit
Shovel bit
Spade bit
A spade bit is wider than your average drill bit. Its wide profile allows it to create large holes for various purposes.
Heart bit

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Why would you use a "doubler," in which two structural members are nailed together?
To make two houses
To create a walking path
To increase strength
In some structures, high strength is of critical importance. Doublers are members that are stacked and nailed together for the purpose of make a frame twice as strong.
To adjust friction

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You need to make a perfectly round hole. Where do you mount a hole saw?
To a drill
Hole saws are extremely easy to use. You insert them into your drill just like you would any other bit, and then spin your way to a perfect hole.
On a circular saw
Using a hand saw
To a table

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What's a term that best describes the abrasiveness of a particular type of sandpaper?
Grit
Grit is how manufacturers refer to the abrasiveness of their sandpaper. Fine grit is good for finshing purposes, while coarse grit is best for very rough surfaces.
Resolve
Power
Set

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What's one of the most overlooked and vital items for carpentry?
Sawdust
Endless array of industrial power tools
Tool belt
Carpenters rely on a number of basic tools every single day. And they need tool belts to keep those vital tools handy at all moments, lest they misplace them time and again.
Band saw

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It's one of the most common clamps in woodworking. What kind of clamp is it?
B-clamp
C-clamp
C-clamps are C-shaped clamps with a screw mechanism that tightens them onto a piece of wood. They're handy for a multitude of work site tasks.
Z-clamp
A-clamp

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"Tack time" refers to which part of the woodworking process?
Gluing
Various woodworking glues dry at different rates. Tack time refers to how long it takes for a certain glue to become tacky to the touch.
Hammering
Cutting
Drilling

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What's the purpose of a "biscuit"?
To create a valley
To level a framing member
To strengthen a joint
Biscuits are little oblong-shaped pieces of wood. Crammed into opposing pieces of lumber, they help to make joints much stronger.
To smooth a surface

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What sort of tool might you use to reduce the thickness of wood pieces?
Rabbet
Planer
In carpentry, no two pieces of wood are ever quite the same thickness. A planer helps you slowly and precisely slice off layers of the lumber until the thickness is just right.
Jig saw
Circular saw

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What's special about a bearing wall?
It contains steel bearings.
It carries a load.
Bearing walls are load-bearing walls, and they help maintain the structure's integrity. Remove part of a load-bearing wall and you'll eventually have problems with the house.
It always points north.
They are made of bears.

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In what part of a structure would you find a landing?
Inside a wall
Staircase
Carpenters build landings into staircases. Landings are used so that the direction of the stairs can be changed within the confines of a structure.
Attic ceiling
In the concrete foundation

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It's a back-and-forth affair. What sort of common tool is denoted as "reciprocating"?
Chisel
Hammer
Saw
They are a glorious power tool found on most job sites. Reciprocating saws move the blade rapidly back and forth to make quick work of most cutting jobs.
Sapper

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In which part of a structure would you find a "valley"?
Roof
Carpenters often join two parts of a sloping roof into a valley. The valley helps to funnel precipitation off the roof and into the gutters.
Cabinets
Floor
Cabinet interior

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Joints are hard work. A miter joint brings together what sort of wood pieces?
Two flat surfaces
Angled wood
It's what a miter saw is for. Miter joints are angled joints, and they require precise cuts … otherwise the wood pieces won't fit together properly.
Oak
Pining

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What's another term for a "biscuit joiner"?
California cut
Plate joiner
A biscuit joiner and plate joiner are the same thing. It's a power tool that slices slots for biscuits.
Muffin masher
Drill

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A speed square is what shape?
Square, duh
Triangle
A speed square is a triangular metal square. Speed squares make it very easy to make straight lines before you cut.
Sphere
Cylindrical

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Stringers are important structural elements for what?
Sole plates
Walls
Stairs
Stringers are critical support elements for stairs. Treads and risers are nailed to the stringers.
Ceilings

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You might find headers above windows or doors. Why?
To increase the strength of the sole plate
To support the structure above it
Headers are horizontal beams placed above gaps such as doors or windows. One of their primary purposes is to support structures above them.
To prevent you from bumping your head
To prevent lumber from molding

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Which term refers to a wood component that's often regarded as a defect?
Latewood
Cawl
Knot
It's evidence of where branches emerged from a tree's trunk. They are knots, and they're a pain in the neck for construction teams but often a blessing for art projects.
Drill

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It's an extremely common type of board on construction sites, like plywood. What is it?
PIN
ORB
OSB
Like plywood, OSB (oriented strand board) is a very common type of wood for construction sites. It's often used for roofs and subfloors.
ATM

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What's a distinct characteristic of a balloon wall?
It is decorated with the carcasses of dead balloons.
It's made of latex.
It's taller than average.
Balloon walls are those that are taller than average walls. They often appear in large foyers or in rooms with cathedral ceilings.
It's very small.

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What does it mean if you're "ripping" with a saw?
Locating knots in the lumber
Cutting against the grain
Ripping is a term that means you're cutting against the wood's grain. Carpenters spend a whole lot of time ripping.
Committing a massacre
Slapping the woodgrain

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What sort of chemical helps to ensure the even absorption of wood stain?
Wood glue
Wood hardener
Wood conditioner
Lumber is notorious for absorbing stain in various amount through its grain. Wood conditioner, when applied properly, helps to even out the absorption through the wood.
Grain emulsifier

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Lumber varies by the source. Conifers produce what sort of wood?
Hardwood
Softwood
Conifers are a very common type of lumber. Pine, which is one type of conifer, produces softwood that's perfect for many construction projects.
Stonewood
Heartwood

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You might use a shooting board for which purpose?
To sharpen a saw
Target practice
As a guide for cutting
A shooting board is totally straight. And as such, it can be used for tasks like cutting or planing.
For drilling purposes

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If you use a hand saw to cut wood, you should use it at which angle?
10 degrees
45 degrees
Hand saws are hard work compared to circular saws. But if you decide to use one, you can increase your efficiency by using it at the proper 45-degree angle.
180 degrees
360 degrees

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You'd use a California corner when building what?
A derby car
A wall
California corners are L-shaped elements that help you build a wall. They are also called three-stud corners and help to conserve lumber during a project.
A roof
Under the foundation

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How are red chalk lines different than blue?
They don't require cleaning.
They are twice as visible.
They are waterproof.
Be wary of using red chalk lines for carpentry. Yes, they're waterproof compared to blue … but they're also a whole lot harder to remove at the end of a job.
They glow in the dark.

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It's the bottom of a woodworking tool. What is it?
Shoe
Foundation
Sole
Many woodworking tools have various parts. The sole, or plate, of a particular tool refers to the bottom.
Primer

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