How to Sound Smart: Hardwood Floors & Table Saws Edition

How many of you have found yourselves completely hooked to those home remodeling shows on HGTV?  And how many of you cringe when the cast slips on the most basic construction vocabulary?  (Maybe that second one is just Martin and me, so maybe it really is a good thing we don’t have TV out here in the tire house).

In any case – cringe or no cringe – here are two basic slip ups you’re guaranteed to hear.  Feel free to label yourself as an official know-it-all after this post.  Just don’t expect HGTV to come knocking, okay?

Slip up #1.  “We’re installing hardwood floors in the kitchen.” All wood floors are not hardwood floors.  We have different types of wood, just like we have different types of apples.  Just because I think gala apples are the best, it doesn’t mean all apples are gala.  It’s the same with wood floors.


Yes, hard woods (like cherry, maple, and beech) are usually better for flooring materials than the competition, soft woods (like pine, cedar, and fir) because hardwoods tend to be denser and harder.  We need every ounce of strength we can get underfoot, but don’t be fooled by thinking all floors are hardwood.  Some softwoods are actually harder than some hardwoods.  So you just never know.  Well except you do know one thing:  all wood floors are not hardwood.

Slip up #2.  “We’ve been using a table saw for that there job.” I guess because we set this saw on a table, people on TV frequently call it a table saw:


Sorry folks.  No matter how much I correct the people on TV from my chair, they just don’t listen.  That quick guy is a chop saw.  It’s really good for cutting trim, crown molding, and 2x4s.  The blade gets great angles, but it can’t cover a lot of area like a table saw can.

Here’s a table saw.  Notice how it is the table:


A table saw has a blade coming out of the table itself, which is incredibly dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.  (The blade is covered by a clear plastic shield guard here.)  More people lose their fingers to table saws every year.  Martin and I cut all of our cabinet walls, doors, and shelves in our kitchen with a table saw because it’s really good for cutting large, long things like sheets of wood.  I often hung out the window to balance pieces of wood as Martin cut them on the table saw.

Know any other frequent slip-ups when it comes to tools and terms?  Or do we have any smarty pants in the house who already knew this stuff?  I don’t mind co-correcting people on TV if you want to get together.

Update:  It seems I just discovered how to get my husband talking on this site.  Martin brings up some fabulous points in the comments that you might want to check out.

(Images from