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Glossary of Woodworking Terms
FAQ's - Frequently Asked Questions

Glossary of Woodworking Terms

If you just entered out site: Greetings - this glossary page was setup as an educational tool for our customers. It defines all the woodworking terms we could think of, and we keep adding new ones. We hope to eventually expand this to be a photo encyclopedia of woodworking. Please take a moment to visit the rest of our site for examples of Early American, Folk Art, Modern, and other style furniture and woodcarving projects.

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The topmost member of the capital of a column.



A reinforcing block or wall of masonry adding support to the great vaults & arches.


Acanthus Leaf:

A decorative wood carving representing the ragged leaf of the acanthus plant, a motive of classic Greek and roman origin.



Turned ornament resembling an acorn. Acorns are common in Jacobean furniture as finials on chair posts and bedposts, as pendants and as the profile of leg turnings in Jacobean tables.

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Originally an ornament on the roof corners of Greek temples. In classical furniture, similar ornaments applied to the top corners of secretaries, bookcases, highboys and other furniture.



Decorative technique used to create the effect of wear-and-tear on a wooden, painted, plastic or other surfaces. Common in country and rustic reproductions, also used to create antique "fakes."



Recessed part of a room. Alcoves serve as great locations for built-in furniture, and often house one or more windows. Bed alcoves exist in Pompeian rooms, and such placing of the sleeping quarters was common in northern Europe through the Middle Ages and later. In the 18th century, designs of special beds such recesses appeared. Other uses include bookcases and cabinets, dining groups, etc.

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An individual or group of panels or screens located near or on the altar.



A continuous isle, which wraps a circular structure or an apse at its base. Designed for use in Processions.


American Colonial:

Term loosely applied to all American furniture used by the colonies prior to the American Revolution. This style includes rough handmade pieces of the early American frontier, New England versions of Jacobean and Puritan (Cromwellian), furniture imported by settlers from Europe and Americanized versions of formal English and European designs. There is no clear division of this period but most agree to group it into early colonial and late colonial (American provincial).


American Country:

Simple designs originating from the earliest settlers in America during the early colonial period (see above). These pieces are very simple and often rough in design. This charming style is still very popular today.


American Frontier (American Primitive):

A style created during late 1700's to 1800's to meet the demands of the western frontier. Noted pieces include twin wagon seat chairs, sinks without plumbing, cupboards and cobbler's benches. Woods primarily used included ash, hickory, maple, black walnut and pine. Pieces of this period were usually painted black or in primary colors.



The name of a transparent alcohol solvent dye used to color leather or wood, deep penetrating by nature.

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A circular finishing found on pillars or piers, sometimes decorated with carvings.



Decorated frontispiece to an altar, featuring allegorical figures in tapestry or carved forms.


Antique Finish (or Antiquing):

A paint or stain finish applied to an object to give an aged look. Techniques commonly employee use of original coloring and finishing materials and procedures. A true antique reproduction will have a proper "antique" finish in appearance and process.



Could be anything ranging from a piece of furniture to art. The US government considers any item over 100 years old to be an antique, whereas most collectors use 50 years as a benchmark. Furniture must be pre-1900 or extremely early 20th century for antique status. True antique furniture are pieces made prior to the mass production machine era following WWI.


Apothecary Chest:

A low chest with small drawers originally used to store herbs for cooking and medicinal purposes.



Thin decorative feature applied to a surface, also known as Onlay or Overlay.



A board placed to the underside of a shelf, sill, seat, or tabletop for stability and decoration. Carving or stenciling for can add detail to an apron.



Particular to the East end of Cathedrals, the Apse is a semicircular form serving as a culmination. The Apse, generally domed, will often form the Altar. The term is derived from the Medieval Latin

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A row of arches set atop piers/columns. Sometimes refers to the arched roof itself.



An ornamental molding seen often in arch shaped portals following the lines of the face with sculpted figures.


Arm Chair:

Seating that has both a backrest and armrests.



Iron framework used within mason-less Rose Windows to support the glass weight.



A large mobile cupboard or wardrobe featuring doors and shelves for clothes storage, term of French origin. Modern implementations include bedroom entertainment centers.


Arrow Foot:

A cylindrical foot that has tapered and separated from the leg by a turned ring.


Art Deco:

A style characterized by geometric forms and bright, bold colors, popular from c. 1918 to 1940.


Art Nouveau:

A movement and style of decoration characterized by sinuous curves and flowing lines, asymmetry, and flower and leaf motifs.



Small, semi-circular molding applied to the glazing bars on cabinets' bookcases

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Bachelor's Chest:

A small, low chest-of-drawers.



A metal hook suspended between two studs to form a drawer pull.



Wool fabric resembling felt, usually green, used on gaming tables.


Baker's Rack:

Open slatted back with shelves used for storing goods in the kitchen


Ball flower:

An ornamented ball sculpture surmounted in the petals of a flower.


Ball Foot:

The rounded end of a turned leg having a hooded effect.


Ball-and-claw Foot:

A sculptured foot showing a bird's claw or animal paws grasping a ball; most commonly found on a cabriole leg.


Balloon Seat:

A chair seat where the front rail bows forward in a convex or horseshoe shape.



An upright, such as a table leg or rail, shaped like a vase or urn.


Bamboo Form:

Woodcarving, of Chinese influence, in the shape of natural bamboo forms.



Veneer cut into narrow strips and applied to create a decorative effect, usually found around the edges of tables and drawer fronts. Also available in a solid wood strip allowing a routed edge and creating a great illusion of a solid wood piece.

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Bar tracery:

The dominant class of Tracery consisting of decorative patterns formed from stone bars.


Barley Twist:

The turning of a leg of furniture so that it resembles a screw thread.



An extravagant and heavily ornate style of architecture, furniture, and decoration that originated in 17th century Italy.


Bat-wing Drawer Pull:

A brass drawer pull that is in the shape similar to a bat. Usually on Queen Anne pieces.



A small quarter or half round molding. Bead moldings assist in transitions between other moldings or areas, and are often flexible enough to conform to minor discrepancies.


Beaded Molding:

A molding style consisting of convex half-cylinders running the length of the molded piece


Beatle Hole:

(See also Worm Holes) Small holes found in wood, considered a defect in many instances and a character-providing element in others such as rustic furniture pieces. Beatle holes are the result of snacking powder post beetles. These insects may survive the finishing process in dormant form and suddenly come alive when they reach room temperature. Finding mysterious wood dust inside drawers and cabinets is a symptom of a snacking beetle. Immediate action must be taken to avoid further damage to your piece.



Steamed wood bent into a curvilinear shape. Bentwood is common to such pieces as oxbow desks staircases, and archways.



A 19th-century style originating in Germany, characterized by lack of ostentation

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Blanket Chest:

A chest used for general storage, usually kept in the bedroom. Construction may be of any common chest design, block front, flat-panel, raised-panel, or simply plane lumber.


Block Foot:

A cube-shaped foot found at the base of square-legged furniture.


Block Front Chest:

A chest of drawers in which the center is concave and the end panels are convex.



A unique American furniture form, mainly found in chests, where the front is divided vertically by a concave center and two convex end panels that often terminate at the top in flat arches or carved shells.


Bolection Mold:

A decorative boldly rounded surface mold, indicative of the Chippendale style.



Bulbous, curving form; convex fronts and sides of chests.


Bonnet Top Highboy:

Highboy with a full dome or hood over the top of the piece, many antique highboys are missing their bonnet or sustained damage over the years.



In cabinetwork, a top with a broken arch or pediment, or a curved or scroll top with a central finial motif in the shape of a flame, urn, etc. Commonly atop a highboy or secretary. Straight or ogee molded face.


Boss (Rib-boss):

Ornamental masonry strips used to conceal the breaks in vault work.


Bow Front Chest:

A chest-of-drawers with a convex front.


Bracket Foot:

A low right-angled foot of a chest, etc., having two decoratively shaped ends and a vertically first seen in the 18th century.

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An inscrolled or knurled foot. Sometimes also called "Spanish foot."



A cabinet divided vertically into three sections, with the middle section projecting forward. Most commonly seen in hutches, bar backs, or desks.


Buffet (or Sideboard):

A sideboard without a hutch or storage cabinet on top.


Bun Foot:

A round ball acting as a foot used on furniture in the 17th century.



A piece of furniture with drawers, used as a desk. It features either a fall-front, which slopes at 45 degrees, a cylinder front, or a tambour front.



A tree knot or natural grain, sometimes as result of a cancer, featuring extremely unique and beautiful patterning. Woodworkers prize burl wood for many applications where appearance is of the utmost importance. Burl wood is inherently unstable and may impart uncontrollable checks or warping. Common practice is to shave burl wood into veneers to avoid such occurrences.


Butler's Tray Table:

A tray with four flip-up handholds that can be removed from the table legs on which it stands. When the sides are down an oval tabletop is created.

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Butt Joint:

The junction of the ends of two pieces of wood such as on a sill. This is the most inexpensive and the fastest to constructed, but is weakest woodworking joint.


Butterfly Table:

A small drop-leaf table with swinging supports resembling a butterfly wing on a rudder.



Inlay of an opposing grain thin slice of wood used to prevent spread of a check or crack in wood.


Cabriole leg:

A leg or support in the form of a conventionalized animal's leg with knee, ankle, and foot. Form tends to swell wider at the top (knee) and bottom (ankle). Very common in Queen Anne designs.


Camel back:

Back of late Chippendale or Hepplewhite style, the top rail of which was in the form of a serpentine curve.



An overhanging shade or shelter above an artwork or statue sometimes situated upon pillars.



The upper element of an architectural pillar, often finely decorated in Romanesque and Early Gothic structures.

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The title of this period owes its origin to Charles Martel, the Frankish ruler who defeated the Moors at Poitiers in 732. The artistic advances of this period were initiated by Martel's grandson Charlemagne, who was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 800. Although the Carolingian empire itself would not survive past the ninth century, the civilizing forces set in motion during this era would form the foundation for cultural growth during the Medieval age. Rare examples of Carolingian architecture remain, excepting such sites as Minster at Aachen.



A conventionalized shield form used as an ornament.



Rollers on the end of each foot, behind a skirt, or open to view that allowed for moving easily.



A corner or edge that is beveled, or cut, at an angle or beveled.



Crack or split that occurs along the grain of wood due to uneven internal pressures. Checking may occur at any time in the life of a piece of furniture, and is usually traceable to a sudden change in temperature and or humidity. Checks may be slowed or stopped using a butterfly inlay.



A combination of a dresser and a chest. Chessers are narrower than a dresser and shorter than a chest, and normally have a small tilting mirror.


Chest on Chest:

A tall chest with a larger chest of drawers that supports a slightly smaller chest.



A tall, narrow piece featuring a series of drawers for storing clothing.

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Cheval Glass:

A standing mirror in a freestanding vertical frame. Also called a dressing mirror.



An ancient European design motif consisting of a pattern of pointed zig zags.



The section of a Cruciform Cathedral located between the Nave and the main Altar.



A five sided design of converging arcs, often used in framework.



The foot flares into a flat pad form that is round in shape.



A small, half-round mold applied to edges of a drawer front.


Cocktail Table:

A table normally positioned in front of a sofa, which provides a surface for serving. Cocktail tables are also, known as a coffee tables.



A multi-functional traveling chest with handles and a domed lid but without feet, usually made of oak.


Column Figure:

A statue or sculpted figure, which serves as a supportive or decorative shaft within a portal.



Architectural feature originating of Greek and Roman design. Columns may be rounded, square, or flat in plain or ornate form. Common decorations include fluting, carving, or applied designs.

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A small, low chest with doors or drawers, many traditionally styled nightstands are referred to as commodes.



A term originally applied to a bracket that supported cornices or shelves and later used to describe tables that were affixed to a wall and supported with legs at the front. Today it describes any type of table used along a wall.



Decorative transitional support commonly found on mantels. Corbels can be simple scrolls, or complex cherub, lion, horse, or other three dimensional designs. Corbels support the mantel shelf against the side columns.


Corner Block or Brace:

A diagonal brace placed at the corner of a frame structure to provide strength. Commonly found on the inside corners of dressers and chests for example.


Corner Cupboard:

A triangular shaped dining room china cabinet made to fit into a corner. Modern implementations also extend to entertainment centers and display cabinets.



A horizontal molding or group of moldings crowning the top, or crown, of a cabinet or other furniture. Commonly found on hutches, curios or cupboards.


Cottage Furniture:

A style of casual furniture characterized by being painted and/or decorated. Cottage pieces often feature turned legs and very simple lines.


Country Style:

A casual style that gained popularity in the 1980's and remains popular today, often featuring nature and nostalgic motifs. The "appearance" of handcrafting is also important including visible distressing or ageing.


Credence Table:

A type of small table used for storing food before serving; generally a semi-circular table with a hinged top.

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Normally a sideboard or buffet. In office furniture, credenzas are a horizontal filing cabinet, which are often placed behind a desk.



This usually refers to the top rail of a chair back, sofa back, etc.



A distinctive Gothic motif formed of floral and leaf ornamentation. Primarily used on spire and pinnacle sculpture.



A narrow band of veneer forming the frame of a panel; the grain of the wood is at right angles to the line of the frame.



The area of intersection in a Cruciform church, formed by joining the Nave, Transept & Chancel.


Crown Molding:

Angled molding joining horizontal and vertical surfaces in a clean and elegant manner. Common uses include wall to ceiling molding, fireplace mantles, crowns or caps to furniture, and as decorative wall shelving. Crown molding requires complex compound miter and bevel cutting for installation.



A cabinet, box or closet with shelves designed to hold cups, dishes or food.


Curio (Collectors Cabinet):

A case piece featuring glassed in shelves and doors for displaying collectibles.



Found within Tracery decoration to form the meeting point of foils.


Cusped corner:

An indented corner on case and tabletops or other panels, created by the intersection of two carved quarter round corners.


Cyma curve:

A double curve in a simplified "s" form.

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Dado Joint:

A rectangular groove across the width of a board or plank fitting another piece of wood to create additional structure and support. Commonly used to joint shelving into the sides of cases.


Dado Rail:

A wooden rail or molding that is fixed horizontally along a wall, usually about a third of the way up from the floor.


Damp Fold:

A sculpting technique in which the lines are long and subtle, giving the featured material a look as though it was damp and clinging to the figure.



To depress a design in leather, paper, wood, or composition board.



Rectangular blocks equally spaced for ornamentation in a cornice molding.



A 20th century style originating in the Netherlands. As with other Dutch furniture of the period, destijl furniture is characteristically simple and clean-lined.



Furniture design popular during the era of the French revolution, it bridges the formal Louis xvi and the more reserved empire style, most popular during the late 1700's to early 1800's.



Paints made by mixing pigment with water and bound with casein, glue or egg. Widely used before the arrival of emulsion.


Distressed (or Distressing):

A furniture trait where pieces are purposely dented or otherwise marked to render an antique or rustic appearance.

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Dog Tooth Molding:

An ornamental feature in which pairs of 'tooth-like' pieces of wood or stone are set to each other in diagonal rows.



A method of joining two pieces of wood which uses two dowel pins instead of one to ensure no shifting



Joint construction made by cutting pins in the shape of dovetails, which fit between dovetails upon another piece. Commonly found in drawer construction.



A headless wooden pin used in furniture construction.


Drake Foot:

A carved three-toed foot. Also a "trifid foot".



A chest of drawers used to store clothes.


Drop Front:

The hinged front of an upright desk that drops down to provide a surface for writing.


Drop Handle:

A pear-shaped handle made popular in the late 17th century.


Drop Leaf:

A dining or occasional table with hinged leaves that can be lowered.


Drop Lid Desk:

A desk with a hinged front that covers the inner compartments.


Dry Brushing:

A paint technique utilizing brushwork over a glaze to create a cloudy effect.

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Duncan Phyfe:

A furniture style popular in the late 1700's to early 1800's. Duncan Phyfe pieces are characterized by feet that gracefully curve outward on both tables and sofas. Duncan Phyfe seating pieces often have lyre-shaped backs, rolled top rails and arms.


Dutch Foot:

A type of disk or pad foot used in either varying forms on turned or cabriole legs.


Dutch Renaissance:

This style is square, solid and heavy, with straight lines as a rule. Chairs are characterized by turned legs, straight stretchers and straight low backs. Carvings are the main form of decoration featuring foliated ornamentation and scrollwork. Seats were often covered in leather with large brass nails. Oak is predominately used. Most popular during the 1500's through the 1600's.


Dutch Style:

Early Flemish baroque furniture, dating from the 17th century, was but a slight adaptation of the late renaissance style. Typical are oak cupboards with four doors and chairs with seats and backs of velvet or leather held in place by nails. Most pieces are massive, solid unpretentious pieces made of local woods with turnings.


Dye Lot:

Stains, finishes, and paints are manufactured in batches referred to as "lots." Each lot produces a specific amount of liquid product that is of exactly the same color and patina. Even though the same ratio of components may be combined to produce the final solution, variations in components, temperature, mixing time, humidly, etc. Play a factor. Therefore, it is advisable to complete a project from the same identified dye lot if possible, or very subtle variations in color may be apparent.


Early American:

American furniture design of the late 1600's to early 1700's (still popular today), adapted from popular European styles such as Jacobean and William and marries. The look is characterized by straight lines and minimal decoration. The style has merged into what is now called colonial, normally featuring elements of Queen Anne and Chippendale design.

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Early English Style:

The beginnings of Gothic in England span from the final years of the twelfth century through the first half of the thirteenth. Cathedrals primarily constructed within this period are Canterbury, Wells, Lincoln and Salisbury. Within each of these, excepting perhaps Salisbury, it is plain to recognize preceding Romanesque forms and elements.


Early Renaissance:

Early 1500's, the transitional period between gothic arts and the classical revival. Characterized by arch form, ornament and detail in style and decoration, high relief carving with diamond shapes and architectural pilasters, and ornamented with olive, laurel and acanthus leaves. Pieces usually featured no hardware.



The protrusions on either side of a Chippendale chair's crest rail.



Style designed by Charles Eastlake, popular in England and America during the late 1800's. Style was medieval and featured gothic and Japanese ornamentations. Cherry and fruitwoods were primarily used along with tile and metal panel and eye-catching hardware for decoration.



A painting effect where an object is treated with color to make it look like ebony.



A style of decorating combining furniture and accessories of various styles and periods.


Egg & Dart:

A classic design of alternating oval and dart shapes, commonly applied to cornices.

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An oil-based paint that has a low-sheen satin finish.



The decorative and exacting art of reverse painting on glass, mainly related to the Sheraton style.



A large furniture style of severe form that emerged during the reign of Elizabeth I in England during the latter half of the 1500's. Elizabethan pieces are characterized by heavy carving and massive size.



A technique to impress or stamp a design onto a piece of furniture; mostly used on wood pieces to resemble carving.



A style inspired by the Napoleonic empire, which features heavy looking classical designs and combines straight lines and curves, sleigh beds are a good example of this styling.



A water-based paint that is most common on walls and ceilings.



An 18th-19th century casework piece similar to a corner cabinet. Its front is typically rounded or diagonal, and it rests on three or four feet. Often, the top portion contains shelves in graduated sizes.


End Matching:

Two adjacent pieces of veneer, which are joined end to end to form a continuous pattern.


English Style:

The period distinctions of English furniture are somewhat indefinite owing to the variety of labels according to monarchs, designers, typical woods and external influences. Changes were happening so rapidly that primarily the type of wood used distinguished the boundaries of the English style.

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Entertainment Center:

A piece of furniture designed to hold entertainment equipment such as TV's and stereo components.



Term that relates to furniture design and function for the human form; very commonly found in home office furnishings such ergonomic chairs for example.



A cabinet with a fall front that lowers to form a writing surface.



The shaped metal fitting/backing behind a drawer pull or surrounding a keyhole. The term can also apply to a tiny plate that hangs over a keyhole to stop drafts from coming in.


European Style:

Sophisticated style with great attention to detail and ornamentation.


Fall Front:

The flap of a bureau or secrtaire that pulls down to provide a writing surface.


Fan Carving:

A carving composed of radiating lines in a half-round or fan-shaped pattern.


Fan Vaulting:

An intricate form of Tracery in which the ribs of a Vault arch out in a concave fan pattern.



A simulation of something else. An example of this would be faux marble, which is a marble-like surface painted onto walls or other surfaces (see trompe l'oeil).

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Feather Banding:

Two narrow bands of veneer in opposite diagonals.



Design period following the American Revolution and running roughly through the early 1800's. Federal styles incorporate the neo-classical influences of Sheraton and Hepplewhite including straight and delicate lines, tapered legs, and contrasting veneers.



Normally a metal cap attached to the end of a slender shaft for strength or to prevent splitting.



A curved garland of flowers or it can also refer to a strange bird.



A board made of compressed wood fibers and glue.


Fiddle Back:

A backsplat in the shape of a violin (fiddle) that is typically seen on Queen Anne chairs.


Fielded Panel:

A solid wood panel with molded or beveled outside edges and a flat, raised center section.



A pattern made by the natural grain of wood.



A decorative ornamentation that is often produced with fine wires of gold or silver.



Delicate adornment strips applied to shafts and archways along the moldings.



A step in the manufacturing finishing process where the filling of natural pores in wood allows the surface to become smoother and more reflective.

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Finger Joint:

A joint in which two pieces of wood are cut in an elongated zigzag pattern and joined glue.



A decorative detail that has carved or shaped to ornament the top of an upright piece such as a bedpost. Finials are commonly found in the opening of a broken pediment or on the topping a lamp. Common motifs include flames, urns, and pineapples.


Finnish Style:

Finnish furniture designers used bent and laminated (layers of solid wood) woods to create organic, humanistic forms and lightweight open shapes. These designers were also the first to experiment with tubular steel in furniture design.


Fireplace Surround:

Trim or decorative carving and woodworking surrounding a fireplace; may include the mantel and areas directly adjacent to the fireplace, above, or towards either side.


Flamboyant Style:

The closing period of French Gothic during the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. A style characterized by tracery designs that resemble upward spiraling flames, dominant in the north of France. A classic example of this work is the north spire of Chartres, which stands in evident contrast to the remainder of the cathedral, completed two centuries before.


Flame Finial:

A spiral twist ornament used as a terminating motif. Usually on bonnet tops atop urn-shaped finials.

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Flame Stitch:

A wavy angular pattern that looks like the shape of a flickering flame, normally found on brocade fabrics.



The outward concave curve of a furniture leg.



Furniture produced by the craftsman of Flanders, Belgium, which was more influential that it was an actual period of design. Generally, Flemish furniture is associated with the Dutch renaissance and it differed in many respects due the French influence. Flemish pieces are recognized for elaborate and skilled carving.



Parallel concave grooves that commonly used to ornament the surface of columns, posts, or panels. May be hand carved on antique or reproduction furniture, commonly made using a router on modern works.


Flying Buttress:

A masonry support branching from the sturdy piers and vertical Standing buttresses. Their role is to transfer the great weight of the vaulted roofs off to this more solid support of the firmly set abutments. In French



A small arc design used in Tracery, often utilized within Rose Windows.



Leaves, as of a plant or tree.


Four Poster:

A bed with posts tall enough to hold a canopy. The original purpose includes a fine insect netting to protect against insect bites while sleeping during spring and summer months. The concept evolved to just a canopy for purely decorative purposes.

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This usually refers to the boards that support the seat of a chair.


French Classic:

This furniture was more of an influence that an actual style. All ornamentation was classic and symmetrical and often featured geometric marquetry. This style was predominant during the mid to late 1800's and was inspired by the Italian imitation of antiquity.


French Empire:

Style of the early 1800's that expressed the imperial ambitions of Napoleon created at his command. Inspired by classic Greek and roman design and is considered as grandiose yet dignified. Motifs are symbolic of torches, roman eagles, empire-wreaths, sphinx, lions and the letter "n" (for napoleon of course). Tops are of often of marble, curving is minimized, and metal feet are common. Predominant woods used were mahogany, rosewood and ebony.


French Polishing:

Treating a wooden surface with French polish to give it a highly reflective, smooth finish.


French Provincial:

Rustic versions of formal French furnishings of the 1600's and 1700's, such as the Louis xiv and Louis xv styles. Early French provincial pieces were considered as peasant furniture.


French Regence:

Popular in Europe during the early 1700's. Departs in design from Louis xiv pieces, while maintaining many of the basic forms. Style generally features beautiful curves and elaborate decoration. This style introduced rococo ornamentation and new pieces including commodes, chiffoniers and secretaries.


French Renaissance:

Style dating from the mid 1400's to the early 1600's. Influenced by Italian design, although the pieces were smaller in scale than furniture from the Italian renaissance. Noted for elaborate and skilled carving, progresses in textile manufacturing and the weaving of tapestries. Oak is mainly used on earlier pieces and walnut in the later ones, which are known for excessive decoration.



A durable painting technique for walls and ceilings, created by blending watercolors directly into wet plaster. The technique of blending wet plaster with water based paint. As the plaster dries it becomes a lasting surface base. The term applies to the technique as well as the painting itself.



An open or pierced woodcarving with an oriental influence, primarily used as a decorative element in Chippendale-style furniture.

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A decorated horizontal band attached or painted along the top of a wall, usually ornamented.


Full-Forward Arm:

An arm extending continuously from the back to the front of a piece of furniture.


Gadroon Molding:

A rounded molding that is carved in convex curves.


Gainsborough Chair:

A deep armchair with an upholstered seat and back, padded open arms, and carved decoration.


Gallery Rail:

A small slender railing, usually brass, that borders a sideboard or table.


Gallery Top:

A miniature railing placed along the edge of a shelf or tabletop.



From the French term gargouille, meaning throat. The word refers to sound which water makes as it passes through the gullet. Originally, a reference to the drains atop cathedrals that were later carved into the form of beasts or animals.


Gateleg Table:

A style of drop-leaf table with leaves that are supported by extra legs that swing out like gates.

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Gel Stain:

is formulated to be a rapid drying, controllable, multipurpose, gelled stain primarily for use on difficult-to-stain surfaces, such as composition or fiberglass projects. Excellent for use on fiberglass or plastic doors and trim. Gel Stain is the choice of the professional and homeowner for the project with special requirements.



Elegant design of the 1700's, which is heavier and more ornate than Queen Anne. Georgian features include elaborately carved cabriole legs, ball and claw feet, pierced backsplats and ornate carving.



A painted or gilded bas-relief plaster decoration.



A coating with a thin layer of gold or gold-like substance.



A coloring technique used in the finishing process of furniture to highlight the grain characteristics of wood or to give a high sheen to leather.


Goose-Neck Arm:

A chair with curved wooden arms resembling a goose's neck.


Gothic Art:

Seldom separated from the building craft of the Cathedrals, the term is used loosely to refer to religious European art forms of the 12th through 16th centuries. Other mediums utilized extensively during this period, and within similar manner, were Painting, Tapestry, Metalwork, Glasswork and Manuscript Illumination.


Gothic Revival:

Style influenced by gothic and medieval influences popular in the mid-1800s, this style is characterized by lines flowing up to a pointed arch or other architectural features.

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Pieces from this period (late 1100's to early 1500's) were straight, large and heavy. Many of these pieces were produced in monasteries, which explains the ornamental carvings of canonical figures. This period produced trestle tables, cupboards and stools. Oak and pine were the primary woods of choice.



An opaque water-based paint in which the pigments are bound with glue.



The direction of the fibers in wood. Flat grain wood is sawed perpendicular to the growth rings. Edge grain wood has been sawed parallel to the growth rings.


Grand Rapids Style:

Style inspired by several furniture factories in Grand Rapid Michigan at the turn of the 20th century, and is still popular today. These factories produced pieces that were usually in oak, and finished in a light color. This style is produced in many styles, with the most popular being the oak pedestal table.


Greek Style:

Dating from the 9th century B.C. with Egyptian roots. Characterized by use of bronze animal legs, gilding, encrusted jewels and stones. Used native woods such as olive, yew and cedar. Features include sweeping curves on legs and backs, and centers on couches, chairs, stools, tables, chests and boxes. Usually not highly decorated.



A stained glass window incorporating muted tones as opposed to bright colors.


Groined Vault:

A rib-less vault formed by the meeting of a pair of equal barrel vaults at right angle to each other.



A class of decorative sculpture forms often found in or on Gothic structures. A term used broadly for gargoyles, although traditionally a gargoyle serves as a drainage spout for rainwater, while a grotesque may function solely as decoration.



A small rounded topped table or stand, elaborately carved, usually with three legs.

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Hammer Beams:

Right-angled support beams projecting from wall tops to brace wooden roofs.


Hand Distressing:

Creating a marred surface, lending an aged look to furniture. Similar to aging or distressing a piece.



Wood derived from trees such as oak, beech, maple, mahogany, and walnut. Hardwood is common for use in furniture and finish carpentry, while soft woods such as pine and spruce are common in construction.


Harvest Table:

A narrow rectangular table that has hinged drop leaves, this design takes up very little space and offers a nice amount of surface area when the leaves are up.



An upright structure rising above the mattress at the head of the bed.



A neo-classic furniture style that followed Chippendale from the late 1700's to about 1820. It overlaps with Sheraton styles and shares similar elements of restrained design, tapered legs and classical ornamentation like urns and shields.



Simply a tall chest of drawers. The style was developed in the 1700's and is usually composed of a base and a top section with drawers, which is often topped with a decorative broken pediment crown. The name comes from the French "haut bois" which means "high wood".



A color-removal technique in the finishing process that highlights natural grain characteristics and creates a feeling of depth.

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Flexible joint of metal, wood, or other material allowing two or more ajoining sections to bend at a point within a specific radius.


Hinge, Ball Tip:

An exposed tip of the pin of a butt hinge that is shaped like a ball.


Hinge, Barrel:

The part of butt hinge where the two halves come together and are joined with a pin.


Hinge, Butt:

A hinge composed of two plates attached to abutting surfaces of a door and cabinet and joined by a pin.


Hinge, Clip On:

A concealed hinge that allows you to attached the two parts of the hinge together by simply snapping them together. Makes finishing the doors a breeze!


Hinge, Concealed:

This refers to any hinge that does not show from the outside of the cabinet.


Hinge, Cup:

This refers to the door portion of a concealed hinge (such as the Blum hinges) that requires a hole to be drilled in the back of the door. The cup portion of the hinge is inserted into this hole.


Hinge, Degree of Opening:

This refers to how far or to what angle a door will open. Some hinges will allow the doors to open farther allowing for better access to the contents of the cabinet.


Hinge, 270 Degree:

This refer to a hinge that allows the door a full movement of 270 degrees which allows it to open all the way to the outside side of the cabinet wall. This can only be achieved on a frameless full overlay cabinet design.


Hinge, European:

Frameless cabinets which use a concealed hinge. Hinges that are concealed and which use a hole bored into the back of the door.


Hinge, Exposed:

Hinges that show on the outside of the cabinet. Hinges that are not concealed or hidden.


Hinge, Face Frame:

A cabinet is in essence a box. A face frame is a narrow piece of wood, usually about 2" wide that is attached to the front of this box, framing the opening where the doors go.


Hinge, Finial Tip:

An exposed tip of the pin of a butt hinge that has a fancy turned shape.


Hinge, Frameless:

A frameless cabinet is one that does not have a face frame. A frameless cabinet is made like a simple four sided box. This is sometimes called European style.


Hinge, Free Swinging:

This means the hinge can move freely along its path from open to closed. There is no sort of catch feature to keep the door shut.


Hinge, Fully Concealed:

Will not show at all from the outside of the cabinet.


Hinge, Full Overlay:

In frameless cabinet construction the box is typically made from ¾" thick stock. A full overlay will cover the complete front edge or just slightly less than this stock. A full overlay hinge is typically used on the outsides or ends of a cabinet.


Hinge, Half Overlay:

In frameless cabinet construction the box is typically made from 3/4 inch thick stock. A half overlay is commonly used in the middle of a run of cabinets where the doors share a common single partition wall. This hinge will allow the door to cover up half of the partition wall (or approximately 3/8"). Not to be confused with 1/2 inch overlay which will allow a door to cover up the cabinet or face frame by 1/2 inch.


Hinge, Inset:

A door that sits within the cabinet opening such that the front face of the door is flush with the front of the cabinet or face frame.


Hinge, 3/8" Inset:

This is a door that has a 3/8" x 3/8" rabbet cut all the way around the door on the back edge. This cut allows half the thickness of the door to go back into the cabinet and leaves the front half of the door overlaying the cabinet or face frame. It is also sometimes called a lipped door.


Hinge, Knife:

Shaped like scissors. One half of hinge mounts to top edge (or bottom edge) of door. Other half mounts to horizontal cabinet member directly above (and below) door.


Hinge, Lipped:

This is a door that has a rabbet cut all the way around the door on the back edge. This cut allows part of the door to go back into the cabinet and leaves the remaining part overlaying the cabinet or face frame.


Hinge, Mounting Plate:

The part of a concealed European style hinge (such as a Blum hinge) that mounts on to the cabinet or face frame.


Hinge, No-Mortise:

A style of hinge that can be mounted directed to the cabinet and the door without any mortises or special cuts being made into the wood surfaces.


Hinge, Overlay:

A door which sit in front of the cabinet and covers or overlays a portion of the cabinet or face frame.


Hinge, Pin:

A hinge that pivots on a single point. Offers a very low profile as only the pivoting knuckle is visible from the outside of the cabinet.


Hinge, Pivot:

A concealed hinge for inset doors which uses a bushing placed into the horizontal cabinet members above and below the door, with a pin coming down from the hinge into the bushing.


Hinge, Reverse Bevel:

A door edge that is angled backwards allowing the door edge to serve as the pull. This gives a much simpler, cleaner looking design of cabinets.


Hinge, Self Closing:

This type hinge will have a design feature to help pull the door shut and keep it closed when the door is brought within a few inches of being closed. Sometimes called snap-closing.


Hinge, Semi-Concealed:

This term is applied to a hinge where some of hinge shows on the outside of the cabinet, but a portion of it is hidden behind the door.


Hinge, Slip On:

A concealed type hinge where the two parts of the hinge are fastened together by slipping one half on the other and then tightening a screw.


Hinge, Snap Closing:

This type of hinge will have a design feature to help pull the door in and keep it shut when the door is brought within a few inches of being closed. Sometimes called self-closing.


Hinge, Soss:

A specialty concealed hinge used for inset doors. Requires mortises into the door and cabinet for the bodies of both hinge halves.


Hinge, Surface Mounted:

A hinge that does not need a hole or mortise drilled in the door or cabinet in order to mount it. In a concealed hinge it simple mounts with screw. In an exposed hinge it also means the entire hinge will show on the outside of the door and cabinet.


Hinge, Wrap Around:

A style of hinge where the plates of the hinge are formed around the back edge of the door and/or the face frame. A partial wrap around hinge will wrap around the door and have a plain flat leaf for the cabinet so it can be used on a frameless cabinet. A full back-to-back wrap around hinge with wrap around on both halves of the hinge so it can be used on a face frame cabinet.


Hinge, Zero Clearance:

A hinge that allows unobstructed access for pullout shelves or drawer when a door is open to 90 degrees or more. This means that the door will not protrude into the area of the cabinet opening when open. This is only possible in a full overlay door layout.


Hitchcock Chair:

A black-painted/finished chair with gold powdered stenciling of fruit and flowers on the backrest, named after its designer (Lambert Hitchcock). Heavily influenced by Sheraton designs.


Hitchcock Style:

Style created by Lambert Hitchcock of Connecticut from the early to mid 1800's. Although most famous for the design of Hitchcock chairs, Lambert also produced stools, settees, rockers, cabinets and cradles. The Hitchcock chair is still reproduced to this day.


Hock Leg:

A cabriole leg having a broken curve on the inner side of the knee.


Hoop Back Chair:

Hepplewhite or Queen Anne chair with a top rail curving directly into its arms.



A color tone such as red, yellow, blue, etc.


Hunt Board:

Designed to be light and portable so it could be moved outdoors. Originally used for serving food and drinks after a hunt.



Refers to the stringing of the outer coverings of various fruits or vegetables, such as corn.



Enclosed cupboard with shelves resting on a solid base such as buffet or desk.

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Religious imagery painted upon wooden panels. The term is also used to define the study of symbolism as it relates to the subject of a work of art.



A painting technique where the material is applied in thick layers to wooden panels or canvas. This method creates a textured effect.



Decorative patterns created with pieces of different woods or other materials, which have been set into the surface of wood furniture.


Inset Tile:

A tile with a different design than the surrounding body of tiles.



A technique of stylized engraving, which is carved beneath the surface layer of a hard material, often stone or metal.



A technique of sinking a decorative design across an entire surface. Essentially a Mosaic inlaid within a wooden panel, table or chest. Elements may include ivory or precious stone.


International Style:

Functional modern furniture style developed in Europe during the 1920's and 1930's. The most important origin of this style was Germany's Bauhaus school. Simple lines and an absence of decoration are hallmarks of this design. Popular materials used included chrome and glass.


Italian Provincial:

Loose term applied to furniture of the Italian provinces made during the 1700's to mid 1800's. These pieces, although more rustic, copied the elaborate furniture styles of Milan, Venice, Rome and Florence. Later pieces (late Italian provincial) were heavily influenced by French design. The pieces feature simplified lines and lack ornate decorations. Very few of these pieces are reproduced today.


Italian Renaissance:

Popular through the 1400's to 1600's. This style displays classical inspiration and features lavish carving, marquetry, inlay and classical figures. Pieces were generally straight and squared or rectangular. Walnut was the primary wood of choice.

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Early 1600's English furniture style with a medieval appearance and dark finish. Furniture from this period can be very simple or covered with carvings.



The vertical side masonry of a door, window or portal entranceway, often a place for the setting of statuary.


Japanese Style:

Japanese domestic usage required little furniture. Chests and cupboards were built in with sliding doors. Usually finished with highly polished lacquer flecked with gold and decorated with fine-scaled flower, animal and landscape motives. Thin mats made of rice straw covered the floors and were used for sitting. Cloth cushions were also used, as were small tables of wood and lacquer. The folding screen was an indispensable adjunct to the other furnishings as it could be moved to change the entire aspect of the room. Japanese furniture forms have changed very little for centuries.



A technique of painting that requires several coats of heat-hardened lacquer, commonly used in creating Chinoiserie designs.



A sharp edge often found on the corner of cabriole legs, the term "keeled" is used because it resembles the keel of a boat.

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Kiln Dried:

Wood that has dried by a means of controlled heat and humidity in kilns or ovens to specific ranges of moisture content.



Refers to the convex or rounded out area at the top of a cabriole leg.


Kneehole Desk:

A desk with a recessed central cupboard.



In wood, the area where a branch or the limb of a tree appears on the face or edge of a piece, such as knots commonly found in knotty pine furniture.



A hard, protective artificial liquid that is applied as a topcoat to furniture. Lacquer provides a plastic like protection and high gloss shine. A common finish from the 1930's forward to modern times. True antique furniture lovers avoid Lacquer finishes, and maintain support of natural shellac and tungoil varnish. Lacquer finishes tend to deteriorate over time resulting in a cracked or "crazed" appearance.



A country style chair having a ladder effect produced by the use of a series of horizontal back rails in place of a splat.


Lady Chapel:

The Lady Chapel will be found in all the Notre Dames, as well as many of the Great Gothic Cathedrals. Usually located behind the Sanctuary, these spaces are dedicated to - sometimes set aside for the use of - the Blessed Virgin.

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A cornice that completely frames a window.



Any thin material such as wood or plastic that is glued to the exterior of a cabinet or other surface.


Lancet Window:

A tall, narrow window that terminates in a pointed apex.


Lantern Tower:

An extended tower or watch house illuminated in its uppermost windows.



A joint of two pieces lapping over one another.


Latin Cross:

A cross form which contains one arm that is longer than the other three, traditionally the base arm. This is the accepted manner of the Crucifixion cross, based upon the upright beam and crossbar commonly used by the Romans for execution. As a central Christian symbol, this motif is utilized in many forms, from literal sculpted figures of the Martyrdom to Cruciform floor plans of churches and cathedrals.



Crossed wood, iron plate bars, etc.


Library Storage:

Drawers, trays, cabinets or racks designed to store cassettes, CD's or videotapes. They often roll or slide out for easy accessibility.


Lierne Vaulting:

Vaults containing small decorative rib work not originating from the corners; primarily found in England.



A term to describe an individual's expression of life. Lifestyle furniture pieces tend to be casual in nature and simple in design.

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Lime wash:

A finish that is made of slaked lime and water, which is used for whitening outside walls.



A technique of using liming wax to stain woods a whitish color.


Linen Fold Paneling:

A decorative panel that has molded or carved to look like folded cloth.


Lingerie Chest:

A tall narrow seven-drawer chest normally used for storing undergarments and lingerie.


Lion's Paw Foot:

Furniture foot portraying a Lion's paw


Lip mold:

The molded edge on a drawer or door front extending with a rabbet to cover the joint between the front and case structure.



A pullout arm used to support the hinged fall of a bureau.


Louis XIII:

Popular during the early 1600's. This style is mostly straight lined and squared. Prominent features of this design include twisted columns, turned balusters and spiraled legs. Favored decorations include marquetry, inlays, incrustation and elaborate relief carvings. Predominant woods used are walnut, ebony and oak.

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Louis XIV, XV and XVI:

Classic French furniture designs ranging from the mid 1600's to the late 1700's. These styles grew to be simpler and more refined. Louis xiv style is larger and more ornate. Louis xv is simpler and features curved lines and some ornamentation. Louis xvi features geometric shapes, straight lines and minimal ornamentation.


Louvered Doors:

Doors that are made up of horizontal wooden slats.



A short chest or table with drawers, normally set on short legs.


Lyre Back:

A chair with a back resembling a harp.


Lyre Motif:

Representations of a harp-like instrument used on many French and English designs. The lyre is used extensively in the chair backs and table supports of Duncan Phyfe.



Artwork or sculpture, which portrays the Madonna and the Christ child upon a throne, usually attended by angels.

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The artistic interpretation of a halo or aura surrounding the head of holy figures. An almond shaped motif often used in imagery of the Virgin, Christ or particular saints. Symbolically, the Mandorla has great significance within Medieval Christianity, and is related to the Vesica Pisces. The space, which represents the shape of a Mandorla, is the overlapping segment of two intersecting circles. In Christian context, the place where Heaven and Earth join as one, perhaps even the doorway between the two. Many cathedral portals feature Christ or the Virgin enthroned within a Mandorla frame.



A prevalent style of art during the later half of the sixteenth century, characterized by a self-aware perspective with dominant, often disturbing, themes or moods. With roots in earlier artistic schools, Mannerist painters often projected themselves as opposition to the idealistic artists of the High Renaissance.



The shelf above a fireplace. The term is also commonly used to refer to the decorative trim around a fireplace opening known as a fireplace surround.


Marbleizing (or Marbling):

False appearance of marble as a decorative painting surface. Common on columns and tabletops as an alternative to expensive stonework.


Marlborough foot:

A square block foot under a straight or only slightly tapered Chippendale leg.


Marlborough Legs:

Heavy strait legs used in Chippendale designs and others.

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Decorative patterns made of inlays, usually applied to veneered surfaces.



A term referring to an item of furniture that has been made up from two or more associated pieces, usually from the same period/style. In addition, a term for upholstered furniture that is normally manufactured in a particular fabric or leather (opposed to a custom or special order covering).


Match Boarding:

Form of cladding where long wooden boards are held together with tongue-and-groove joints.


Matte Finish:

A finish that is more flat than shiny.



Medium density fiberboard; made from compressed particles of wood and used in the construction of furniture. Described as "cardboard" in the furniture business, this inexpensive environmentally friendly material allows for cost savings and mass production. Many moldings and fixtures are now available in MDF, providing a cheap alternative to wood for painted applications. MDF does not accept stains or fine finishes.



This style originated in counties of the north Mediterranean Sea, such as Spain, Greece and Italy. Mediterranean has been popular since the 1500's and is often referred to today as Spanish modern. Mediterranean furniture ranges from simply functional to extremely formal, characterized by short and squat with ornately turned legs and feet. The hardware used is usually heavy and often burnished. Primary woods used include pecan, chestnut, mahogany and walnut. Mediterranean can often mix with contemporary, country and provincial pieces.

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Mission (or Mission Style):

A heavy, normally dark finished oak style with straight rectangular lines originally popular in the early 1900's. This style grew out of the English arts and crafts movement and was a direct reaction against the ornate Victorian furniture styles of that time.


Miter Joint (or Mitered Corner):

A diagonal joint formed at the intersection of two pieces of wood. For example, the joint found at the side and head casing of a door opening is made at a 45-degree angle.


Modern (Modern or Modernist):

A clean streamlined furniture style of 20th century with roots in the German Bauhaus School of design and Scandinavian design. Sometimes referred to as international style.



Ornamental shaped strips that are applied to and project from a surface. Also considered Carved contours given to Piers and columns to exploit optical effects of light.



A single hue.


Mortise & Tenon:

A slot cut into a piece of wood to receive a tenon of another piece of wood to form a joint.


Mosaic Tiles:

Colorful natural stone tiles, usually sold in squares.



A decorative theme, component or element.

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Mule Chest:

A chest with drawers in the base, the forerunner of the chest-of-drawers.



The vertical wood between window frames.


Muntons (Muntins, Muttons or Mutons):

Dividers over glass panels in windows and china cabinets.



Decorative brass nails attaching fabric or leather to a frame, thereby outlining its design elements. Nailheads are often applied the arms and backs of upholstered pieces such as sofas.


Natural Finish:

A transparent finish that does not seriously alter the original grain or color of the natural wood. Natural finish applications are commonly oils, varnishes, and or similar materials.


Neo-Classic (or Neoclassicism, Neoclassical Style):

A design style that is elegant and simple, with motifs borrowed from ancient Rome and Greece. This style was widely popular during late 1700's through the 1800's and relates to the Sheraton, Hepplewhite, empire and federal periods.

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Revivals of aspects of gothic detailing, which took place in the 1700's and 1800's. These aspects included gothic arches and tracery applied to rococo furniture. Later neo-gothic styles applied gothic ornamentation to neoclassical forms.


Nesting Tables:

Tables of varying sizes stored one under the other, normally consisting of a set of three.


Net Vault:

A vault constructed of intersecting ribs that give the impression of a web or net.


Neutral Color:

Colors such as white, black, gray and tan that easily blend with other colors.



A recess in a wall for displaying a sculpture or other accessory.


Night Stand:

A small, low table or cabinet with drawers that sits by a bed.


Occasional Table:

General term for small pieces of furniture such as coffee and end tables.



A circular or eye shaped window.

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Ogee Arches:

An arch formed by the meeting of two double curves forming a long S shape; a definitive design of the Gothic era.


Ogee Bracket Foot:

A foot commonly used on Chippendale case pieces, which features a double-curved leg that wraps around two sides of the piece.



A classical molding with a double curve or cyma profile, as in an ogee bracket foot.



Decorative trip applied to the surface of a piece, also known as Overlay or Appliqu.



A low upholstered footstool or seat without arms or back.


Ottonian Art:

A German art form which preceded the Romanesque, and followed the Carolingian, in which can be seen some early beginnings of forms and innovations what would later be fundamental to Gothic structures. A primary feature of some Ottonian churches was the use of systematic pier and column support within the Nave.


Oval Back:

The shape of a chair back that is often associated with Hepplewhite designs.



A decorative trim piece applied to a flat surface, also known as Onlay or Appliqu.



The opposite of a serpentine-curve, they somewhat resemble the curve of an oxbow and are used on the fronts of case pieces.

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Pad foot:

The foot flares into a pad foot that is round in shape; also called a clubfoot. (See also Dutch foot)


Painterly Form:

A style distinctly different from Linear, emphasizing shape and color over line. Made popular by artists such as Titian, Painterly works are found in several of the later Gothic cathedrals.



Normally a thin flat piece of wood or similar material, framed by rails and stiles as in a door, or fitted into grooves of a thicker material with molded edges for a decorative wall treatment.



Furniture inlaid with geometrical designs similar to parquet floors.


Parrot back:

The space on either side of the splat on a Queen Anne chair that resembles a parrot in form.



A light, soft color.



A round or oval shaped disk, often enriched with ornament.



A luster or sheen that develops with use over time, usually associated with fine antiques, vintage furniture and leather.


Pattern Repeat:

The interval between the repetitions of the same pattern.

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The decorative or ornamental design of a fabric, veneers, etc.


Pedestal Desk:

A flat desk, usually with a leather top, that stands on two banks of drawers.


Pedestal Table:

A table that is supported by a single center base or column. Pedestals may be sided (octagon, hexagonal, etc) or round to match the tabletop. Fluting, carving, or turnings are common decorations for pedestals. Pedestal bases often display scrollwork, paw, or ball-in-claw feet.



The supporting base for a table, vase, sculpture, etc.



An ornamental treatment adorning the top of doors, case pieces, etc. Usually in the shape of a triangle, segmental, scroll, and or broken forms. Common to highboys, curio cabinets, grandfather clocks, etc.


Pegged Furniture:

Early joined furniture constructed by a system of slots known as a mortis, and tenons. Tenons are inserted into mortis slots to form a tight and sturdy joint, but such joins may easily separate. Prior to the invention of and common production of glue, a peg driven through the entire joint provided the necessary structure to hold a piece together. True pegged furniture requires absolutely no glue and still last through generations without fail. Most modern pegs are for decorative purposes only, unless on an authentic reproduction piece.

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Pembroke Table:

A drop leaf table with leaves that almost drop to the floor.


Pencil-Post Bed:

A bed with four slender posts generally rising from six to eight feet in height. The design is normally very simple with straight lines. These beds can be used alone or with a canopy.



An ornamental hanging object, usually a turning.


Penetrating Stain:

is formulated to be a fast drying, penetrating, quickly applied, interior wood stain. Excellent for use on new cabinets, woodwork, trim, doors and furniture. Penetrating Stain is the choice of painting contractors and professional finishers, as well as reproduction and restoration artists.


Pennsylvania Dutch:

Produced through the late 1600's to mid 1800's by German families settled around New York and Pennsylvania. They were commonly miscalled Dutch for "detach". The styling is simple with a sense of rustic utilitarianism and is normally squared with minimal rounding or turning. Decoration predominately includes paintings of flowers, fruit, animals, human motifs and German script. Most popular woods were walnut, maple, fruitwoods and pine.


Perpendicular Style:

A distinctive English style within Gothic Architecture, contemporary to the French Flamboyant during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, yet having little else in common. The Perpendicular is clearly influenced by traditional Classicism in manners that are often impressively noble. While there is no cathedral constructed entirely within this style, a close candidate is Gloucester, built in the mid fourteenth century. The Nave at Canterbury was also executed during this time, and its clean, elegant lines are gracefully powerful.

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Pickling (or Pickled Finish):

A term for a piece of wood that has been limed. In addition, a method of painting furniture and then wiping off the paint before it has completely dried leaving some on the edges.


Picture Rail:

A molding that runs along the top of the wall a short distance from the ceiling, from which pictures are hung with hooks.


Piecrust Table:

A round occasional table on a three-legged pedestal base that features an ornamented edging resembling a crimped piecrust.


Piecrust Top:

The edges of the top curve in and out like that edges of a pie. This is a complex and time-consuming process offering an elegant beauty and appeal to a piece.



Without piers, there would be no Great Cathedrals. The solid standing piers serve as the main support to the heavy strain of the Gothic's' vertical aspirations. The piers take on many column shapes (rounded, cross and rectangular) but will also take the form of a segment of wall. The term derives from the Norman French



A cutout or carved decorative detail seen in chair splats and other furniture originating from the 1700's.

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Artwork or sculpture that portrays the Virgin Mary cradling the lifeless body of Christ upon her lap.



A half-round or thin rectangular column superimposed over a vertical surface.



A carving detail commonly used on 19th century furniture (and reproductions) as a symbol of hospitality.



A vertical ornament forming the spire of a turret.


Platform Base:

Three, or four, cornered flat table bases supporting a central pedestal and standing on scrolled or paw feet.


Platform Bed:

A bed whose base consists of a raised, flat horizontal surface meant to support a mattress.


Plinth Block:

Block of wood that rests against floor or base molding used to support a column or molding.



The base of a chest or other furniture that rests on the floor, opposed to sitting on legs.



A painted finish applied mostly to sculpture work, consisting of multiple combinations of color. Popular during the late nineteenth century.



A ceilinged entranceway to a church, often bordered by columned masonry.



A series of small images or carvings at the base of an altarpiece.

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Primary Colors:

Three colors; red, yellow, and blue.



Furniture from the hinterlands inspired by designs from the major centers of a country, which have been adapted to local tastes, materials and ways of living.



Decorative and functional object attached to a drawer or door to allow easy grip for opening and closing.



An intended architectural illusion used to create the sense of a larger room.


Quadripartite Vault:

A four-sectioned vault, divided by diagonal, transverse ribs.



An ornamental figure, which is divided into four foils, leaves or lobes.


Queen Anne:

The major furniture style/period of the 1700's, which is noted for being rich and innovative in design. This design is elegant and characterized by graceful curved lines such as cabriole legs and broken scroll pediments.

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Rabbet Joint:

A joint formed by fitting together boards into which rectangular grooves have been cut.


Ragging Off:

A paint effect caused by rubbing/wiping a painted surface with a rag or piece of leather.


Rail Joints:

The places where the horizontal members of an upholstered frame meet.



The horizontal piece running across the top of a chair back.



The angle or slant of a non-vertical furniture leg.


Rayonnant Style:

The Radiant style, originating during the reign of Louis the Fourteenth in France, sometimes referred to as the Court style or 'the style of the French.' The name that carried through the ages refers to the patterning of the windows that allowed for such radiant lighting.



Decoration formed by a series of bead moldings set together in parallel lines.


Refectory Table:

A narrow long table design originally used in the dining rooms of religious orders.



Generically, a traditional furniture style characterized by majestic forms. Many especially European furniture styles are further characterized by the name of the specific monarch or monarchical dynasty during the style's period, such as William and marry and Tudor.

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Rgence Style:

Spanned from about 1715 to 1723, when France was ruled by a regent. This style of design was a transition from massive straight lines to graceful curves.



Neoclassical style of British furniture popular during the first half of the 1800's. This style spawned adaptations and true reproductions of Greek and roman furniture and coincided with Directories and Empire styles in France.



A sacred object venerated because of its association to a martyr or saint, in certain instances, remains of the saint.



Any sculptural ornamentation raised above its surface or background.


Relieving arch

A supportive arch constructed within a wall to absorb weight upon a passageway or portal below.


Renaissance Style:

This movement began in Italy in the 13th century and continued through the 17th century. It often features ornamentation inspired by Michelangelo and Raphael. The furniture is true to the purpose of the piece and often incorporates mythological or biblical figures. Walnut is often the wood of choice.



New furniture that is a copy of an antique style or period.



A variation of the federal style.



An elaborate wall carving or screen utilized primarily on or behind the high Altar.

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Antiques or collectibles that have been brought back to their original condition through reconstruction, refinishing, and/or the replacement of parts. Restoring a significant piece can considerably decrease its value, which is important to consider before doing, or when buying an item that may have been restored.



Sometimes referred to as Reredos, these sculpted structures form the back of altars.



A contemporary retrospective view, which reinterprets some of the best-loved looks from the 1930's to 1980's. The mood of these pieces is playful and ironic. The classics have extra emotional punch because you recognize such items as exaggerated Hollywood sofas, 1950's boomerang tables or wacky 70's chairs.



The piece of an l-shaped desk that is perpendicular to the main desk unit, which provides extra working or computer space.



Reproductions of classic American styles from the 1700's, although not always accurate in detail. Revival pieces were popular from the late 1800's through the early 1900's. Also known as just "revival".


Ribbon Back:

A chair with a back resembling entwined ribbon.


Rice Carved Posters:

Tall heavy bedposts that are carved with decorative details such as rice or tobacco plants. They are symbolic of the wealth of plantation owners in northern Georgia and the Carolinas where the style originated.


Ridge Turret:

Found more commonly on churches without towers, located over the crossing and named for their location on the ridge of the roof.

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Rietveld Style:

In the early 20th century, Rietveld style grew from the Dutch arts and crafts movement with a strong frank Lloyd Wright influence. Machined forms and manmade materials figured in this style, which sought to preserve the integrity of arts and crafts while embracing the modern world.



An ornament style from the rococo period consisting of an abstract shell or leaf motif.



A style originating in France, but utilized primarily in English and Italian cathedrals of the early 1700s, as well as in renovations of the period. Distinctively lighter in expression with an emphasis on smaller, more graceful motifs.


Rococo Revival:

A very ornate Victorian style originally popular in the mid 1800's, which is best known for elaborately carved rosewood parlor furniture, balloon-backed chairs and triple-crested sofas.


Roll Top Desk:

A desk with a slatted panel front that rolls down to hide its writing surface.



The architectural style immediately preceding the Gothic, first singular influence to spread across Europe in the Medieval age. Clearly identified by broad walls and pillars, the style derives its name from inspirations of Roman architecture. Many cathedrals and churches consist of a blending of Gothic/Romanesque elements. A fine experience of this will be found at Canterbury, within its 11th century Crypt.

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An artistic style that dominated or influenced much of European art through most of the nineteenth century. With an emphasis on emotional expression, the movement embraced the art of the Gothic period. Eventually responsible for the great Neo-Gothic building period of the later years of the century.



Meaning small circle. In architecture, a curved panel or window recess. (Also Roundel)


Rood Screen:

An ornamented piece that serves on the Altar as a separation between the Choir and the Nave. Quite often Rood Screens will contain or support a crucifix.


Rose Window:

Arguably one of the finest developments in the history of Western art. Evolving from the simple round windows of the Romanesque period these intricate works of glass, metal and stone literally flowered into holistic representations of the known Universe. While glass windows were used in cathedrals of other countries, the Rose Window was initially a French creation, first appearing at St. Denis.


Rose Window:

Evolving from the simple round windows of the Romanesque period these intricate works of glass, metal and stone literally flowered into holistic representations of the known Universe. While glass windows were used in cathedrals of other countries, the Rose Window was initially a French creation, first appearing at St. Denis.

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A circular ornamentation, often carved to resemble a flower. Commonly used as a corner transition on moldings for case furniture or trim work.



Meaning small circle. In architecture, a curved panel or window recess. (Also Rondel)


Rule Joint:

A quarter-round, molded wood knuckle joint between a table top and drop leaf, leaving no open space when the leaf is down.



Simple style typical of country life, more recently the term has been applied to rustic southwestern furniture.


Saber Leg:

A leg that has a saber-like curve.



A French term for the gilt-bronze "shoe" at the bottom of furniture legs.


Sacred Conversation:

Artwork or sculpture that portrays the Madonna and Christ child contained in the same setting with saints & angels.

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Saddle Seat:

A wooden chair seat, which has been hollowed to the sides and back to resemble the pommel of a saddle.



A sculpted stone tomb or wooden coffin, adorned with ornamentation.



The size of an object, or comparisons between a drawing size and the actual size of a piece.


Scallop Shell:

A semicircular shell with ridges radiating from a point at the bottom.



A light fixture fixed on a wall. Commonly sconces are tall and narrow and are often made to hold a candle.


Scoop Seat:

A wooden chair seat that has been hollowed out to fit the body.


Scroll Bracket:

A decorative brace-like member at juncture of legs and aprons on tables, cases, and chairs, characteristic of the Chippendale style.



Scrolls are the supportive and decorative members shaped like a scroll or curl, which are connected to posts, rails, and each other on many brass (especially traditional) headboards and footboards.

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Serpentine Front:

A waving curve on the front of a desk or chest.



A compound curve with convex center and concave ends used for the fronts of chests, desks, cupboards, and similar pieces.


Serving Table:

A long narrow table with drawers for items such as silver and linens.



A long seat or bench with a back and arms that can seat two or more people, originally popular in the 1600's.



A wooden bench with a high back and solid arms, often featuring drawers or a hinged seat that covers storage space, originally brought to America by the pilgrims.


Sexpartite Vault:

Essentially a four-part (Quadripartite) vault to which an additional transverse rib has been incorporated which divides the vault into six segments. This is yet another form which remained distinct to the Gothic period.

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A simplistic furniture design including features such as straight, tapered legs, and woven-strap chair seats. Style originated in the mid 1770's from an American religious sect (shakers). The shaker style is renowned for exceptional design and craftsmanship combined with functionality and beauty.


Shell Motive:

Decorative carving in the form of a scallop shell, popular in Queen Anne and Chippendale styles.



A resinous varnish obtained from the lac insect and used in japanning.



A formal style of design that developed from Hepplewhite, Sheraton features include delicate straight lines, tapered legs that are usually turned opposed to being square and skilled inlay and veneer work.


Shield Back:

A chair with a back shaped like a shield.


Shoe Molding:

Molding that transitions a base or wainscoting to a floor area, commonly a simple bead millwork.



A serving piece with drawers and, or, open shelves for displaying plates, crystal, silver, etc.

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Size (Sizing):

A solution used as sealing to restrict the penetration of stains and dyes creating a more even coloring to wood or other material.


Sleigh Bed:

An American adaptation of a popular French empire design. Sleigh beds have a high scrolled headboard and footboard resembling the front of a sleigh.


Slip Match:

An effect produced by slipping sheets of veneer side-by-side to form patterns, such as diamond, sunburst, herringbone and checkerboard.


Slip Seat:

A removable, upholstered seat frame for a chair or bench.


Snake Foot:

A carved foot where the slender, swelling lines suggest a snake's form, usually on tripod bases.


Soft Wood:

Wood from a conifer trees such as pine and cedar.



Contemporary style which is highly influenced by Native American Indian traditions. Light-colored woods, light and bright color palettes, rich patterns and desert scenery characterize the style.


Spade Foot:

A tapered to the base leg design, usually found in Hepplewhite styles.



The semi-triangular space formed by arches and the moldings surrounding them.

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Spanish Renaissance:

Style during the 1500's to 1700's, which had a strong Moorish influence. Can be easily used with other renaissance styles. Features of this style include elaborately carved wood surfaces, inlays in Moorish patterns and large ornate brass nails or studding. Bright red or green leather was typically used for upholstery. The most common wood used for these pieces were oak and cedar.



Painting effect created by flicking a brush with wet paint.



A slender turned and shaped column, which often swells out in the lower half and is usually used in rows such as the back of a Windsor chair.


Spiral Leg:

A leg that has carved, or turned, into the shape of a rope twist or spiral.



A flat, vertical piece in the middle of an open chair back, which is often carved or ornamented.


Splayed Leg:

A leg that slants outward from a piece of furniture.


Split Turning:

Turned woodworking made from two separate pieces temporarily jointed to allow a complete turning. The halves are then split along the joint to create exact mirror columns or onlays. Common to the Queen Anne period.

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Oil, alcohol, or water based chemical that imparts a color into wood, fabrics, or other objects. Controlled use of stain offers a wide variety of coloring to enhance the beauty of wood and display the graining pattern.



The step in the finishing process where coloring (stain) is applied to a piece of wood furniture.


Steam Bend:

A method of bending a single piece of wood (bow back chair, bowed splat, etc.) Into a furniture part.



Method of creating patterns by covering an area of a surface and applying color to the uncovered area.



Furniture designed and built by Gustav Stickley who pioneered the American arts and crafts movement, also known as mission style, which is known for clean straight lines and durability.



The vertical outside member in the framework of doors and cabinets.



A horizontal bracing member connecting legs of a table or chair.



A horizontal brace in an h or x shape connecting the legs of a table or chair. Often decorated with carving or turning.

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Traditionally, a soft, workable plaster sometimes used in sculpting, primarily it is worked into a decorative background.



The decorative design of an object, room, home, etc.


Swan-Neck Handle:

A curved handle popular in the 1700's.


Swing Leg:

A hinged table leg, as in a gate leg, which swings out to support a drop leaf.



A formal, mirror-image balance in design or decorating.



A ceilinged alcove used for the display of statuettes or art pieces.


Table Ambulante:

A French term for a small, portable occasional table.



A stool or small seat that can also be used as a stand.



A tall chest with a larger chest of drawers that supports a slightly smaller chest.



A vertical implementation of a roll-top desk's flexible drawdown cover made of "tambours," which is made up of a succession of narrow strips of flat wood glued to a stiff backing such as canvas.

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Tapered Leg:

A leg that becomes incrementally smaller towards the bottom.



A heavy fabric incorporated with intricate design or imagery, used as wall hung decoration or covering.


Tea Table:

A small portable table, which is frequently used in place of a coffee table. Traditionally the top has raised edges like a tray and side pullouts for candles.



A small piece of freestanding furniture designed for holding tea.



A paint material mixed with egg white, casein or glue, to create an effect of luminescence.


Tertiary Color:

Color created by mixing of two secondary colors.



The wooden framework atop a high post bed, for draping with fabric. Also called a canopy.



An allegorical figure containing the symbols of the four Evangelists: lion, eagle, bull and man. Traditionally, these are associated to Mark, John, Luke and Matthew.

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The Decorated style:

The second of the three distinctive architectural styles of England's cathedrals, the first being Early English, the later, Perpendicular. A generalized date for the Decorated era is the middle thirteenth to the middle fourteenth centuries. It is within this period that the more distinctive features of English Gothic emerge, leaving behind evident transitional links with the Romanesque. Westminster Abbey is an example of construction during this era: the place where the psalms are sung. Loosely used to define the whole East end of a cathedral and as a synonym for Chancel.


The Renaissance:

Occurring after the close of the Gothic age, the Renaissance should be factored into any serious study of these cathedrals. Much of the spiritual expression silenced at the end of the Gothic building period found new voice within Renaissance art forms, although their expression was fundamentally distinct from the Gothic style, which was perceived as crude and barbaric.


Thimble Foot:

Same as a spade foot.


Thumb Piece:

A flange attached to a hinged lid, which when pressed by the thumb raises the lid.


Tilt Top:

A small occasional table with a hinged top that can stand vertically when not in use.



Located throughout Gothic cathedrals, tracery adds much to the distinctive style of Gothic ornament. The variety of Tracery patterns within these cathedrals is nearly endless. Their interlacing lines are incorporated into vaults, walls, columns, windows and the woodwork of the screens. Ornamental stonework consisting of patterned bars; used most often within windows to support the weight of glass. When utilized in this way, such work is more specifically known as Bar Tracery, for its use of thin, decorative bars of stone. Larger window formations are known as Plate Tracery and designs upon solid surfaces without windows are called Blind Tracery.

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Traditionally styled furniture is available in both original antique pieces and quality reproductions. This type of furniture usually follows a particular period style such as Georgian, Tudor, regency or Louis xv.



The lateral extensions that form the cross of a Cruciform cathedral or church.



A style of design that blends influences from various style categories.



The horizontal division of a window constructed of wood or stone.


Transverse Vaulting:

The use of ribs or arches set at right angles from the corners of a structure.


Trestle Table:

A long narrow table with two t-shaped uprights that are joined by a single stretcher for added support.



A vaulted gallery that forms or covers the ceiling of an isle.


Trifid foot:

Makes three points; similar to a drake foot.


Tripod Table:

A small table with a round top supported by a three-legged pillar, originally made for serving tea.



A three paneled art piece, either image or carving, linked by hinges, used in religious iconography.

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A form of two-part mirror frame in which an ornamental panel is featured above the mirrored glass.



This phase of the English renaissance covered the 1500's on up to about 1603. Furniture shapes are straight and stiff (like gothic), and feature elaborate carving and decoration. All pieces of this style are massive and normally constructed of oak.



The lathing process that shapes columns, table and chair legs, finals, pedestals, urns, etc. Also applied as a noun to describe the resulting piece.



The vertical space between the arch and the lintel of a doorway. This location was often considered the premier site on a structure for sculpture, and so contained significant scenes such as the Last Judgment or Christ enthroned.



The outer vertical posts of a chair.



A rounded vase shape with a pedestal; usually used as a chair splat.



The lightness or darkness of a color.



A carved shaped in the form of a vase; usually used as a chair splat.

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In all architecture, an arched structure of stone or masonry forming a ceiling.



The art of utilizing thin layers of fine woods to their best decorative and structural advantage by lamination to a core of less valuable wood.


Vesica Pisces:

The oval shape created by the intersecting of two equal circles. An ancient symbolic motif that has great significance within many cultures. In Christianity, the form represents the sacred Body of Christ.



A furniture style named after England's Queen Victoria, which was very popular through the latter half of the 1800's. Victorian furniture was usually constructed of mahogany, walnut and rosewood in dark finishes, which were often highlighted with elaborate carved floral designs. Common elements of this style include oval chair backs and marble tops on tables and dressers.



A china or curio cabinet with a glass-front for displaying collectibles or other fine pieces.



A spiral scroll form of ornamentation, usually a carving.


Wagon Roof:

A ceiling of curved wooden beams often intersected in intricate designs.

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An application of wood molding up to the middle or lower half of a wall.


Wall Units:

Large freestanding or wall hung units which can have drawers, shelves, cabinets, desks, entertainment centers or other features.



A tall upright cabinet with a door or doors. Designed for storing clothing.


Wellington Chest:

A tall, narrow, relatively plain type of chest named after the duke of Wellington.


William & Mary:

This style is named after the 17th century English king and queen. This style came to America in the early 1700's. Common pieces of this style included high-backed upholstered armchairs, highboys, lowboys, etc. The elements of this design include features such as curved lines, marquetry, bun or ball feet, inlay and oriental lacquer-work.


Windsor Chair:

A style of wooden chair originating in the early 1700's, which is still very popular today that features a spindle back shaped in fans, hoops or combs. This style was named for Windsor castle but gained true popularity in America. Woods used included birch, pine, hickory, ash, maple and oak.

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Wing Chair (Wing-Back Chair):

A high backed upholstered chair featuring rolled arms and wing shaped protrusions that extend over the arms at the head level.


Wiping Stain:

Wiping stain is formulated to be a slow drying, controllable, multi-purpose, heavy-bodied, interior wood stain. Excellent for use on new or old bare wood, finished wood, and in the wood graining process on steel doors or other projects. This is the choice of the homeowner and do-it-yourselfer, however period furniture reproduction artists will never apply this modern stain. Wiping stain lays on the surface of wood, hiding the beauty of the grain.


Worm Holes:

Small holes found in wood, considered a defect in many instances and a character-providing element in others such as rustic furniture pieces.



A crossbar in the form of two S-curves used for the top rail of chair back.


Yorkshire Chair:

An oak chair featuring turned front legs and stretchers.



A molding or stitching with a series of frequent sharp turns from side to side.

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Artisans of the Valley
Hand Crafted Custom Woodworking

Stanley D. Saperstein
Eric M. Saperstein
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