Wood and Wood Joints/Das Holz und seine Verbindungen

Klaus Zwerger’s ‘Das Holz und seine Verbindungen’ compares wood joints in Japan and 18 European countries. It was translated by Philip Thrift as ‘Wood and Wood Joints‘. The hardback appeared in 1997 and there was a second print run and later paperback editions. Philip recommends it ‘For anybody who has had to cut the odd mitre or housing or some other woodworking joint’.


The subject came up on an internal ITI mailing list when the following context was given for the word Gratleiste:

‘Durch das Einarbeiten von Gratleisten wird ein Verziehen großer
Holzoberflächen eingeschränkt.’

The translator’s problem was that she knew what the thing was (a piece of flashing or a batten fitted into a furrow drilled across the grain of the wood, to stop the wood warping; only used in quality furniture) and had found several suggestions for it, but she did not know which, if any, of those suggestions was right.

The list suggested: burr, flash, hip rafter, arris fillet, tilting fillet (see sign language dictionary!), metal bracket, and purfling (around the edge of a violin), and for Gratleiste der Schwalbenschwanzgverbindung: dovetail key, wooden clamp.

Fortunately a list member whose husband is a furniture designer suggested fillet, and that the cut across the grain is called a housing rather than a groove; and Philip Thrift made a suggestion at the same time: fortunately these experts agreed with each other.

(Posted as an example of a translator’s daily queries)

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