Can You Pass This Carpentry Quiz in Under 7 Minutes?


By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

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?

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.


When you hear workers referring to "one-bys," what are they talking about?

One-bys are lumber that's about an inch thick. One-bys are vital for a plethora of construction purposes.


The sole plate -- the lowest horizontal framing member in a wall -- is often called what?

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.


What does it mean if you "dry fit" pieces of wood?

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.


What's the purpose of a cat's paw?

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.


Can you finish this common carpentry rule? "Measure twice, cut ____."

"Measure twice, cut once." It's a maxim of carpentry, and even experienced carpenters have to remind themselves how important this principle is.


Drills are used for many purposes. What sort of bit cuts large holes?

A spade bit is wider than your average drill bit. Its wide profile allows it to create large holes for various purposes.


Why would you use a "doubler," in which two structural members are nailed together?

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.


You need to make a perfectly round hole. Where do you mount a hole saw?

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.


What's a term that best describes the abrasiveness of a particular type of sandpaper?

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.


What's one of the most overlooked and vital items for carpentry?

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.


It's one of the most common clamps in woodworking. What kind of clamp is it?

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.


"Tack time" refers to which part of the woodworking process?

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.


What's the purpose of a "biscuit"?

Biscuits are little oblong-shaped pieces of wood. Crammed into opposing pieces of lumber, they help to make joints much stronger.


What sort of tool might you use to reduce the thickness of wood pieces?

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.


What's special about a bearing wall?

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.


In what part of a structure would you find a landing?

Carpenters build landings into staircases. Landings are used so that the direction of the stairs can be changed within the confines of a structure.


It's a back-and-forth affair. What sort of common tool is denoted as "reciprocating"?

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.


In which part of a structure would you find a "valley"?

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.


Joints are hard work. A miter joint brings together what sort of wood pieces?

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.


What's another term for a "biscuit joiner"?

A biscuit joiner and plate joiner are the same thing. It's a power tool that slices slots for biscuits.


A speed square is what shape?

A speed square is a triangular metal square. Speed squares make it very easy to make straight lines before you cut.


Stringers are important structural elements for what?

Stringers are critical support elements for stairs. Treads and risers are nailed to the stringers.


You might find headers above windows or doors. Why?

Headers are horizontal beams placed above gaps such as doors or windows. One of their primary purposes is to support structures above them.


Which term refers to a wood component that's often regarded as a defect?

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.


It's an extremely common type of board on construction sites, like plywood. What is it?

Like plywood, OSB (oriented strand board) is a very common type of wood for construction sites. It's often used for roofs and subfloors.


What's a distinct characteristic of a balloon wall?

Balloon walls are those that are taller than average walls. They often appear in large foyers or in rooms with cathedral ceilings.


What does it mean if you're "ripping" with a saw?

Ripping is a term that means you're cutting against the wood's grain. Carpenters spend a whole lot of time ripping.


What sort of chemical helps to ensure the even absorption of wood stain?

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.


Lumber varies by the source. Conifers produce what sort of wood?

Conifers are a very common type of lumber. Pine, which is one type of conifer, produces softwood that's perfect for many construction projects.


You might use a shooting board for which purpose?

A shooting board is totally straight. And as such, it can be used for tasks like cutting or planing.


If you use a hand saw to cut wood, you should use it at which angle?

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.


You'd use a California corner when building what?

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.


How are red chalk lines different than blue?

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.


It's the bottom of a woodworking tool. What is it?

Many woodworking tools have various parts. The sole, or plate, of a particular tool refers to the bottom.


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