Carpentry is a skilled profession and practically an art form. So like any other specialized industry, it comes with its own set of unique terms. If you’re a homeowner working with a contractor specializing in carpentry, sometimes it can be difficult to understand exactly what’s going on.

Luckily, we at Steve Allen Construction can provide some help. As a carpentry subcontractor in Ocala, FL, we’re familiar with all the unusual terms that come with the trade. We’ve decided to compile a list of some key carpentry terms in one easy to find place on our blog. Whether you’re a contractor looking to explain these terms to a client or a homeowner that’s curious about the details of your home construction, we hope this list will make things a little easier.


Carpentry Terms Header

This is a horizontal beam placed over some sort of opening in the frame of a home, such as a door or a window. Any time a hole in the frame is larger than the spacing between two studs, a header must be used to support the weight that a stud usually would.

Dead Loads and Live Loads

A load refers to any type of force exerted on an object. The force a dead load is referring to is the weight of a building material that stays constant throughout a structure’s life. For instance, a wall of a home is a dead load because it exerts a constant force on the ground. A live load is a force that is not constant, but rather a load that comes and goes during the use of a structure. In a staircase, a live load would be the force of footsteps on the stairs.

Dovetail Joint

A dovetail joint is one of the most popular joints used in carpentry thanks to its superior strength. This is because it has a strong tensile strength that helps it resist being pulled apart. Its name comes from its shape, as part of the joint is shaped roughly like a dove’s tail. This joint is used more often in furniture construction (specifically in drawers) than for the framing carpentry we do at Steve Allen Construction. Nonetheless, it is a popular term worth mentioning.


Carpentry Terms Joist

This is a series of parallel beams that support the floor and ceiling of a building. These beams are often made of wood or concrete for residential construction, but for larger commercial buildings steel is a common joist material as well.


Molding refers to a strip of timber used to create a decorative trim that gives the walls of a home a more finished and elegant look. Moldings can be very plain or ornately detailed. At Steve Allen Construction, we specialize in custom molding and trim.

Fascia Board

The fascia board is the vertical finishing edge of a roof. It is attached to the ends of the rafters or trusses and helps give the roof its finished look.


A plump is simply a straight vertical line. When an object is referred to as being plumb, it means it is perfectly straight. In terms of construction, a plumb line is a line on the wall that goes straight from ceiling to floor. These lines are useful when it comes times to install windows, doors and tiling.

Any other carpentry terms you’re unsure of? Ask us on social! We hope you find this list useful, either for your own use or to help explain to others. Need a carpentry subcontractor or finish carpentry work done on your home? Reach out to us on our contact page or give us a call!

Connect with us on: