Dacron - Common trade name for polyester
fiber; used as a wrap on seat cushions.
Damask - A reversible fabric with design.
Davenport - Compact writing desk features
a sloped top above drawers.
Daybed - Seating unit that can double as a
Deck - The foundation of a chair or sofa
where the loose cushions are placed.
Density - Reference to the weight of foam
used for seat and back cushions; either low density or high
Dentil Molding - Decorative molding
utilizing evenly spaced blocks.
Dining Chair - Chair used at a dining
table; available with or without arms.
Dining Table - A table where meals are
served and eaten.
Distressing - A finishing technique to
make the wood appear aged or old by adding rub marks, small holes
Dovetail Joint - Common interlocking joint
noted for it's resistance to pulling apart; typically used on
Dowel - Round wooden pin; usually spiral
fluted or reeded used to join pieces of wood together and
strengthen the joint.
Drawer - An open top box or compartment
for storage that slides in and out in a cabinet.
Dresser - A chest with drawers for the
storage of clothing.
Drop Leaf - A table having hinged
extension leaves that are supported by a bracket when in use and
hang vertically against the table when not in use.
Dust Cover - The material or fabric used
to cover the bottom of a sofa or chair; also called cambric.
Ebonized - Wood stained dark and polished
to simulate ebony.
Embossed - A low relief raised design such
as an ornamental piece made through pressure rather than carving.
Engineered Wood - Man made sheet goods
made from wood chips and glue under pressure; commonly referred
to as particle board.
Entertainment Center - Cabinet or shelving
unit used to store a television, video and audio components.
Epoxy - A high strength
two part adhesive consisting of a resin and hardener.
Escutcheon - A decorative or plain plate
that protects the area around a keyhole.
Etagere - An open shelving unit used for
Fabric - Cloth produced by weaving natural
or synthetic textile fibers together.
Fall Front - A hinged door of a secretary
desk that drops down to create a writing surface.
Faux Finish - Decorative finish used to
imitate the look of a natural material.
Feather Banding - Narrow bands of veneer
inlaid in opposing diagonal directions.
Fiberfil - Polyester filling material or
Fiddle Back - The back splat of a chair
that resembles the shape of a fiddle or violin.
Figuring - The natural grain patterns of
woods such as curly maple.
Finger Joint - Used to join short pieces
of wood at the ends to make a longer one; provides strength
through increased glue surface area.
Finish - The protective coating applied to
furniture to protect the substrate; common finishes include
paint, lacquer and polyurethane.
Fleur De Lis -
A French floral emblem or carving in the shape of an Iris or
Footrest - The brace or bar at the front
of a stool for your feet.
Formica - Registered brand name of plastic
Frame - The basic structure of an
upholstered chair or sofa; usually made from a hardwood.
Front Rail The front cross piece of wood
between the legs of a piece of furniture such as a chair.
Four Poster Bed - A bed with posts at each
corner; may vary in height.
Gallery Rail - Small or low railing used
around a shelf or table top.
Gateleg table - Drop leaf table with
leaves supported by legs that swing out from the side like a
Gilding - Decorative effect of applying
gold leaf or powder to a surface.
Gimp - A fabric fold used to hide
upholstery fasteners or tacks.
Glazing - Finishing step of applying and
wiping off stain used to highlight wood grain and features such
Glide - Applied to the bottom of furniture
legs to protect the floor surface and make the piece easier to
move around; commonly made from metal, nylon or felt.
Glue Block - A small block of wood used to
reinforce a joint.
Gold Leaf - Thin leaves of gold used in
Grain - The natural patterns in wood
created by the direction of fibers.
Hand Rubbed Finish - An oil finish applied
to a piece of furniture by hand.
Hardwood - The wood from deciduous trees
(trees that lose their leaves during winter).
Harvest Table - A narrow, rectangular drop
Headboard - The upright structure attached
to the head of the bed frame.
Hepplewhite - An 18th century furniture
Highboy - A tall or high chest of drawers
upon a lowboy (base) raised on long legs; a two part case piece.
Hope Chest - A hinged top chest for the
storage of items in anticipation of marriage.
Huntboard - Originally used to serve food
and refreshments after a hunt; light or portable sideboard.
Hutch - An upper cabinet consisting of
shelves; with or without doors placed upon a chest, desk or
Inlay - Decorative technique of inserting
contrasting wood veneers or materials to create a feature or
Intarsia - A form of inlay similar to
marquetry; decorative inlaid panel or dimensional image.
Jacquard - Woven fabric with intricate
patterns created on a loom.
Japan Drier - A drying agent or solvent
used to speed up the drying time of oil based finishes.
Japanning - A finish imitating oriental
Kiln Dried - Lumber dried in a kiln to a
specified uniform moisture content.
Kneehole Desk - Desk with a recessed
central area for a person's knees.
Knock Down Furniture - Unassembled
furniture that a consumer assembles after purchase; also known as
RTA (Ready to Assemble).
Knot - A hard cross grained piece in a
board generally from a branch protrusion; may loosen over time
and fall out of the board.
Koa - Acacia koa; a hardwood endemic to
the Hawaiian Islands. Commonly used to construct furniture and
Lacquer - A synthetic, durable fast drying
coating used to
finish and protect wood.
Ladderback - A style of chair back with
horizontal cross rails resembling a ladder.
Laminate - Composite material used on
counter or table tops; provides a heat resistant, wipe clean
Leather - Made from tanning animal hides
and used for upholstery.
Linen Press - A cabinet with shelves or
shallow drawers behind doors designed to store sheets,
tablecloths, napkins, textiles and clothing.
Lingerie Chest - Tall narrow chest
designed to store women's undergarments.
Loper - A pullout arm or slide that
provides support for a fall front desk or hinged table leaf.
Loveseat - A small version of a couch
designed to seat two persons.
Lowboy - A low table or chest with
cabriole legs; often used alone or as the base of a Highboy.
Maple - Hardwood with a tight grain and
blond color popular in furniture construction.
Marble - A crystalline rock used on
various surfaces of furniture such as table tops or desk tops.
Marquetry - Decorative technique of
inlaying veneers to create a pattern or picture in furniture.
MDF - Medium Density Fiberboard;
engineered wood panel made from wood fibers and adhesive exposed
to heat and pressure.
Mission Style - American version of
English Arts and Crafts which emphasizes simplicity.
Miter Joint - A joint that forms a corner
with both pieces usually cut at a 45 degree angle when forming a
90 degree corner.
Modular - Interchangeable upholstered
sectional seating units used to create different seating
Molding - Decorative strip covering
transitions or used for ornamentation.
Morris Chair - An early to mid 19th
century version of a reclining chair with an adjustable back.
Mortise and Tenon - Furniture joint
utilizing a projection (tenon) on one piece of wood inserted into
a cavity (mortise) on another to join the pieces together.
Motion Furniture - Mechanized furniture
allowing for the adjustment of seating position such as a
recliner or rocker.
Mule Chest - A chest with drawers in the
base with cabinet doors above.
Nesting Tables - Multiple tables
graduating in height allowing one to be stored under another;
usually in sets of three.
Night Stand - A low bedside table or small
cabinet for use next to a bed.
Nu-kane - A man made cane manufactured
from durable wood pulp based material. Used in place of natural
Occasional Tables - Generally refers to
small tables such as an end table, coffee table, console or side
Ogee - A double curve or S shaped molding
or edge detail.
Ottoman - An upholstered low stool or
Outdoor Furniture - Furniture designed
specifically for outdoor use.
Ovolo - Convex molding referred to a
Pad Foot - Rounded foot with a thin
circular base found on cabriole legs.
Particle Board - Engineered wood product
manufactured by bonding small wood particles with an adhesive and
pressed into shhets.
Pedestal Desk - A desk with the top
supported by two pedestals or small cabinets with drawers.
Pedestal Table - A table featuring a
central pedestal or column support instead of legs.
Pembroke Table - A rectangular table with
small drop leaves or flaps on each of the longest sides and
drawer in front of the short side.
Pie Crust Table Top - A round table with
ornamental edging resembling the crimped edge of a pie crust.
Plinth - The squared base or pedestal that
supports a cabinet or piece of furniture instead of legs.
Plywood - Manufactured wood made from a
series of alternating layers of wood veneer with the grain
perpendicular to each other for strength.
Poplar - A softwood from the Birch family
often used as a secondary wood in furniture construction.
Quarter Sawn - Wood cut from a log which
has been quartered lengthwise sometimes exposing distinctive
grain patterns such as tiger striped oak.
Rattan - The stem of a vine like climbing
palm used in the manufacture of wicker and rattan furniture.
Reeding - Carved parallel convex or beaded
lines used on bed posts, table and chair legs.
Reproduction - A replica of an original
RTA - (Ready to Assemble) Finished
furniture items which require assembly by the consumer.
Rule Joint - A joint used between a table
top and drop leaf which leaves no open space between the top and
leaf when open.
Runners - Strips of wood on which drawers
Rush Seat - A woven chair seat using
twisted stems of marsh grass known as rush.
Saddle Arm - Chair or sofa arm style which
looks like a saddle profile.
ScotchGuard - Trade name for a product to
protect fabric from staining.
Seat Rail - Horizontal support directly
under the seat connecting the front legs with the back of a
Secretaire - French term for a free
standing writing desk with a drop down writing surface with
shelves or drawers below; may also have a bookcase above.
Sectional - Modular seating units used in
Semainier - A narrow but tall chest of
drawers with seven drawers; one for each day of the week.
Serpentine Front - Horizontal compound
curve used on the front of case pieces or drawers where there is
a center convex section between two concave sections.
Settee - A long seat or bench with a back
and arms at each end to accommodate two or more people.
Shellac - A natural resin refined and
dissolved in alcohol and used as a wood finish or sealer.
Sideboard - Used in the dining area for
serving food or the storage of silverware and dishes.
Side Chair - A traditional dining chair
without arms used at the sides of a dining table.
Slat Back - The back of a chair which
utilizes vertical slats for the back rest.
Sleeper Sofa - A sofa with a pull out
mechanism converting the sofa into a bed.
Sofa - Also known as a couch; an
upholstered long seat with back and arms.
Sofa Table - A slender high table placed
against the back of a sofa.
Softwood - Wood or lumber from conifers or
evergreen trees such as pine or fir.
Solid Wood - Generally refers to furniture
that is constructed using solid wood and does not include the use
of engineered wood products.
Spindle Back - A chair back consisting of
multiple turnings or spindles stretching between the seat and top
Steam Bent - Wood for furniture components
that are bent using steam such as a chair back.
Stretchers - The horizontal braces which
connect and reinforce the vertical elements together such as
chair or table legs.
Swatch - A sample of upholstery fabric.
Swivel Rocker - A rocking chair that also
Tambour - Flexible sliding doors or pull
down front for a roll top desk; constructed from narrow pieces of
wood glued to a fabric such as canvas.
Tapestry - Fabric with a woven pattern or
decorative pictorial design.
Teak - Tropical hardwood popular for ship
building and outdoor furniture construction.
Tempered Glass - Glass treated with heat
during manufacture which breaks into pebble like pieces instead
of shards or sliverso often used for glass table tops.
Tenon - A projection at the end of a piece
of wood which fits into a mortise to join the pieces together.
Trestle Table - Table supported by
uprights at the ends with a stretcher between them.
Trundle Bed - A low pull out bed on wheels
stored below another bed.
Trim - A decorative molding used on case
Tweed - A medium to heavy woolen fabric
which may feature a design such as herringbone or houndstooth.
Twill - A fabric woven with a diagonal
pattern or ribs.
Unfinished - Furniture that has not been
stained, painted or had a finish applied to it.
Upholstery - The covering including
padding, springs, webbing, foam and fabric on furniture.
Vacuum Press - Use to apply pressure when veneering or gluing together uneven or odd shaped furniture parts.
Varnish - A solvent based transparent film
finish used to coat furniture.
Veneer - A thin slice or slices of
decorative or exotic wood glued to an inferior wood to create
panels, doors and cabinet sides.
Walnut - A medium to dark hardwood used
for furniture construction and veneering.
Webbing - Strips of elastic or woven
fabric used to provide support for upholstered arms, backs and
Wicker - Term given to furnishings woven
from willow, reed and rattan.
Windsor Chair - A wooden chair with a
bentwood curved top and spindle back pegged into a solid, shaped
Wing Back - High back upholstered chair
with wing like protrusions extending above the arms from the
sides near the top of the chair.
Zig-Zag Spring - A sinuous or S shaped
upholstery spring used in chair, ottoman and sofa seats and
This resource last updated on August 8, 2011
Comments or suggestions welcomed.