20 July 2018

Word for the day: kerf

Like so many simple, short words, kerf is unchanged from the Middle English (the Old English predecessor was cyrf (an act of cutting, a cutting off; a cutting instrument).
  1. The groove or slit created by cutting a workpiece; an incision.
  2. The width of the groove made while cutting with a saw or laser.
  3. The distance between diverging saw teeth.
  4. The portion of hay, turf, wool, etc. yielded by a single cut or shearing stroke.
Posted because I encountered this interesting gif of plywood being kerfed.
"This only shows part of the process. The kerfs will be filled with glue, and the perpendicular notches that run along the kerfs will get a spline similar to a little biscuit joint. Then you trim off the excess and sand the whole thing smooth. They're pretty tough once all the glue is set."
More words to look up (some other day).


  1. Interesting because it's such a common word around my shop, but I guess nearly unknown in a world where few people build things themselves anymore? We talk about it in terms of material loss as well as tolerances (making things fit together or of specific sizes). Something you might find interesting: EDM, which uses an electrified, extremely small filament wire to erode metal away. The kerf is so small that pieces cut from one piece of stock can seem like they are still one until they magically slide apart.

  2. Cool, Dutch has the exact same word (pronounced kairf) in more or less the same meaning. Apparently no borrowing was involved, just parallel development out of Proto-Germanic.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...