The Carpentry Quiz


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Did you know that some of history's most famous and influential people started out as carpenters? Well, okay ... actually, just one of them, Jesus Christ. It's well-known that he was a carpenter; less well known is that Jesus was a specific type; he built boats. That's why he was living on the sea of Galilee, and why his first disciples were fishermen; he knew them from his work. 

Fast-forward 2000 years, and carpentry is still a vital profession. In the 21st century, some carpenters have branched out into specialized fields, like cabinetmaking and decorative woodwork. This means they can always find work, even in the age of pre-fabricated homes and new materials, like steel (which is common in multi-story urban buildings) or eco-friendly straw bales (popular for family residences). But make no mistake, you'll still see a lot of wood-frame homes going up -- timber isn't going anywhere, and neither is carpentry. 

How much do you know about this respected profession? Do you know, for example, what it means when a home is "stick built"? (Sounds flimsy!) Or where in a new building you'd find "trusses"? And just how far have women made inroads into this male-dominated field? Test your knowledge of the carpentry trade now, with our quiz!

Which of these would a carpenter be most likely to use?

Of the above, the drill is the only one that's an everyday tool of carpenters. A multi-meter tests batteries, masking tape is used in painting, and a carpenter would only use a thimble if he's sewing up a hole in his work clothes.


What is putting up the basic "bones" of a house called?

When you see a house taking shape as long vertical and horizontal boards, which look like the house's "skeleton," it's in the framing process.


What is the term for a wall that supports the ceiling/roof?

Aren't all walls load-bearing, you might ask? Not necessarily. Some are just there to divide a dwelling into its separate rooms.


"Flat" and "Phillips" refer to what kind of hand tools?

A flat screwdriver has a straight-across, flattened tip (hence the name). A Phillips has an etched cross at the tip, to fit into cruciform slots on the screwhead. (Honestly, we never thought we'd fit the word "cruciform" into a quiz on carpentry. We're as surprised as you are!)


The vertical planks of a house's frame are called what?

We find this term kind of misleading. In other walks of life, studs are small and stubby (think of a studded belt). But in carpentry, they're the long, lean upright timbers of the frame.


The horizontal equivalent of a stud is called a _____.

We have one question here: Does this word bother a lot of people, the way "moist" does? Just curious.


Sawing wood against the grain is called ______.

The term "grain" refers to the way the cells of the wood grew, when the wood was still part of a living tree. You see a similar thing in meat, where cooks also cut "against the grain."


Approximately how far apart are a house's studs?

This is helpful when you're finding studs in order to hang a heavy object on the wall, like a flat-screen TV. Once you know where one stud is, you can measure the distance to the next one.


What does "molding" do?

Molding works a bit like a cummerbund in a tuxedo. It covers the place where two things join and makes it look a little nicer.


The equivalent of molding, between the floor and wall, is called what?

It's "baseboard" in the US, and "skirting board" in the UK. Why isn't it just "molding," like the stuff near the ceiling? Because baseboard is less decorative, and it's made of material that can take a lot more abuse: being bumped by the vacuum cleaner, kicked, scraped by the edges of furniture being moved, and so on.


The smoothed angles you often see on molding is called _______.

Like molding itself, the smoothed-out, angled edges on molding are decorative. But at other times, beveling serves a purpose. On glass surfaces, it makes the edges less dangerous to bump into.


A roof's steepness is called its _____.

An architect will decide on the pitch of a roof. It's important to carpenters, though, because the steeper the pitch, the more careful they have to be when working up there.


A ceiling that is sloped, like the roof above it, is called ______.

Often, a ceiling will be level even when a roof is pitched. This allows for an attic, or just a crawl space. A ceiling that is high and sloped, similar to the roof, is called vaulted.


An interior door usually has ___ hinges.

Interior doors aren't as heavy as those between a building and the outside. So they only need two hinges, whereas an exterior door will usually have three.


You'd find out whether a surface is even by using a spirit _____.

A spirit level looks like a large. solid ruler with a fluid-filled tube in it. There's an air bubble in the fluid (or "spirit"). When the bubble is evenly centered in the tube, the surface is level.


"A-frame" and "extension" refer to what?

An A-frame is a shorter ladder often used inside a building, and are self-supporting because of their shape. Extension ladders tend to be longer, and need to lean up against the building.


A carpenter can be an apprentice, a journeyman or a _____.

Technically, these are terms from unionized carpentry. You might hear them informally among non-union carpenters, though.


What does a "gable" do?

These are easier to recognize visually than to describe, but here goes. You know when you're looking at a house's fairly-steep roof, and there's an outcropping "mini-roof" with its own slant, and a window in front? That's a gable, and it indicates that the attic is being used for living space -- hence the need for extra headroom and a view.


"Miter" is a word that describes a ...

A miter joint is created when two parts beveled at a 45-degree angle come together to make a 90-degree angle. A miter saw, not surprisingly, is often used in making these joints.


What is the "opposite" of a spirit level?

A plumb bob determines if something is completely vertical, like a wall. This is the opposite of a spirit level finding if a surface is completely horizontal.


True or false: A drill can be battery-operated.

In fact, many carpenters like them because you don't have to worry about a cord getting caught on things, or running out of cord. However, the battery pack does make the drill a bit heavier than a corded version.


Where would you find "rafters?"

Rafters are the framing elements of the roof. They are counterparts to studs and joists.


What has balusters and a landing?

Balusters are the supports, often carved and sanded in a decorative way, for a staircase's banister. We could have put "banister" in the clue above, but it was too much of a giveaway!


Where are shingles used?

You'll often see shingles on roofs. But they were popular as siding in the 1970s, and still are among homeowners who desire a natural, unpainted look.


What do you call the exterior metal elements that keep water out of a house?

Flashing often consists of many metal plates. You'll see it along the "seams" or joins of a roof.


Approximately what percent of carpenters in the United States are female?

Despite gains in many fields of employment in the past 50 or 60 years, women only make up 2 percent of carpenters. It's one of the most male-dominated professions in the United States.


A "jack" stud is also known as a ____ stud.

Cripple or jack studs run along doors and windows in an up-and-down direction. The name "cripple" probably came from the fact that they're shorter than other studs.


What is a "truss" part of?

Trusses are pre-made roof segments, which are delivered to a job site all at once. Yes, the thing about an older carpenter's wardrobe is a joke: A truss is a kind of laced corset that relieves pressure from a hernia.


What does a developer do, in relation to a carpenter's work?

Developers make their money by financing building projects, and take a cut after the sale. Architects draw up plans, city officials approve them, and only then can carpenters get to work.


What makes a home a "modular" home?

Modular homes are less expensive, and generally less desirable, than ones built from the ground up. Some of them, though, are designed to look quite appealing, in contrast to early modular homes.


A home that is built from the ground up is called ...

It's a funny term, but that's indeed the right one. This is the opposite of a modular home.


"Cat's paw" is a slang term for what?

This is a kind of pry bar that can get nails out when they are deeply driven in. In other words, they're used when a claw hammer won't get it done.


True or false: A landing is always at the top of the stairs.

A "landing" can be in the middle of the staircase, allowing for a 180-degree turn before the stairs continue. This is used when there is limited space to put in a stairway.


The height of a single step in a staircase is called its ____.

Again, this is something that can be adjusted to allow for a tight space in which to install a stairway. However, too great a rise, and thus too steep a staircase, can be hard on older or disabled people.


The lowest horizontal element of the frame is called what?

This element of the frame, to which the bottoms of the walls attach, has several names. Any of the above will do.


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