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Abattant - A French term used to describe a drop front secretary desk, usually with drawers or cabinet doors below; Secrétaire à Abattant.
Acanthus - A carving of the acanthus leaf used to decorate furniture.
Antique - An item according to U.S. law that is at least 100 years old but is often a term applied to anything old in an older style
Antiquities - Commonly refers to the remains of ancient art and everyday items from antiquity, which themselves are often archaeological artifacts.
Applique' – Literally “applied”. Describes ornamental piece ( wood or metal ) attached to decorate an item.
Apron - The board placed below the underside of a chair seat, table top or shelf usually for support; also referred to as the skirt.
Armoire - A tall wardrobe which originated in France during the 16th century.
Arrow Foot - A cylindrical tapered foot.
Art Deco - A style period from the 1920's and 1930's featuring basic geometric patterns and lines.
English Arts and Crafts - A design movement from the early 20th Century focussed on simple clean lines
Astragal - A small molding used to overlap or seal the joint where a pair of doors meet.
English Arts & Crafts
Bachelor's Chest - A small chest of drawers; typically from the 18th century.
Bail - The hanging loop or ring which forms a handle.
Baize - A woolen fabric similar to felt; commonly used on gaming tables e.g., Card, Snooker, Pool.
Back Splat - Vertical slat of wood in the center of the back of a chair.
Baker's Rack - Open, slat back kitchen shelves with or without a cabinet below
Ball Foot - A full round turning used as a foot on furniture items.
Ball and Claw Foot - Carved or cast furniture foot of a claw holding a ball.
Barrel Chair - Semi-circular or barrel shaped low back chair.
Barstool - A high stool used at a bar or high counter.
Bas-Relief - A sculpture or carving that projects minimally from the background.
Bentwood - Wood that has been steam bent into curved shapes; commonly seen on rocking chairs.
Bergere – ( See Cane Webbing )
Bevel - An edge which is cut at a slant to that of a main area such as that of a beveled mirror.
Bird's Eye - A decorative feature common to Maple features small concentric circles resembling that of a bird's eye.
Blanket Chest - Storage chest with hinged lid. Often for storing linen at the end of a bed. Some have small subdivisions inside to hold candles(USA- hope chest -used during Colonial times)
Blockfront - A three section chest with the center section set back from the end sections. ( see Bowfront & Breakfront)
Bookmatched - A veneering technique where two slices of veneer are glued next to each other so that grain patterns mirror each other.
Bowfront - A convex front of a chest or buffet.
Box Joint - An interlocking joint commonly used to construct cabinet drawers
Bracket Foot - Decorative or plain right angled foot shaped like a bracket placed at each corner of the piece.
Brass - An alloy used for furniture handles, knobs, hinges and fasteners; also used to construct headboards and footboards.
Breakfront - A cabinet with the front center section that protrudes forward or outward from the end sections.
Buffet - A sideboard used in the dining area for serving food or the storage of silverware and dishes.
Bun Foot - A flattened ball foot which resembles the shape of a bun.
Bureau – A desk over drawers. Often with a foldaway working surface, internal drawers & dividers. (USA -A chest of drawers typically used in a bedroom) See Fall Front.
Burl - An abnormal growth on trees usually near the base of the trunk or crotch which is usually cut for veneer because of it's figured pattern.
Butler's Table - An oval table with four sides hinged upwards that fold out flat when in use.
Butt Joint - A simple but weak joint used to join two boards together at right angles.
Ball and Claw, mahogany dining table foot.
Cabinet - A cupboard with doors, shelves and or drawers used for storage or display.
Cabriole - Furniture leg which curves outward from where it's attached descending in a reverse curve into an ornamental foot.
Camel Back - The broad curve and rise of the center section of a sofa back.
Cane Webbing - Pre-woven cane machine made from individual strands of chair cane available in various widths and patterns. Held in place using a tapered reed spline pressed into a groove.
Caning - Weaving or interlacing of narrow strips of the skin of the rattan palm to form chair seats, backs or sides.
Captain's Chair - A short backed, rounded arm chair with spindles.
Carnauba Wax - Wax obtained from the leaves of the carnauba palm used in waxes and polishes
Caster - Small wheel designed to allow furniture to be moved; used on chairs and antique case goods. Often a good way of telling age of items. Can be ceramic, metal or plastic.
Chaise Lounge - Long chair; sofa with one or two arms in the shape of an elongated chair for reclining.
Chest on Chest - Tall chest consisting of two stacked chest of drawers with the upper chest being narrower than the base chest.
Cheval Mirror - Freestanding full length mirror supported by uprights on each side allowing the mirror to pivot.
Chiffonier - ?? USA ??- Tall. narrow chest of drawers commonly used to store lingerie.
China Cabinet - Display cabinet used to display or store object d’art. Sp?
Chippendale – Items made by Thomas Chippendale(uk) The gold standard manufacturer of 18th century style furniture.
Claw Foot - Carved furniture foot resembling an animal's claw.
Club Chair - Low back upholstered chair with arms.
Coffee Table - Long, low table placed in front of seating.
Coil Spring - A conical coiled spring used in rows for seating support.
Commode - Low chest of drawers or cupboard; originally referred to a nightstand that concealed a chamber pot.
Console Table - Small or narrow table designed to be placed against or fixed to a wall.
Corner Blocks - Small blocks of wood glued in place to reinforce or strengthen adjoining pieces of wood.
Corner Cupboard - Triangular shaped cabinet designed for use in a corner. Can stand on the floor or hang on the wall. Can have a flat or a curved front.
Couch - Modern adaptation of a daybed; provides seating for more than one individual.
Credenza - Sideboard or buffet with doors used for storage; commonly found in an dining room or an office behind a desk.
Cross Banding - Veneer applied to the edge of table tops or drawer fronts at a right angle to the face veneer.
Curio Cabinet - Tall, slender, sometimes illuminated cabinet with glass doors and panels used to display collectibles.
Cane webbing ( Bergere ) planter
Damask - A reversible fabric with design.
Davenport – Small writing desk features a sloped top above cupboard /drawers. Often with small drawers or compartments above the writing slope.
Daybed - Seating unit that can double as a bed.
Dining Chair - Chair used at a dining table; available with or without arms.
Dining Table - A table where meals are served and eaten.
Dovetail Joint - Common interlocking joint noted for it's resistance to pulling apart; typically used on drawer sides. Triangular sides.
Dowel - Round wooden pin; used to join pieces of wood together and strengthen joints.
Dresser - A chest with drawers for the storage of clothing & linens.
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.
Victorian Walnut davenport
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 or chipboard.
Escutcheon - A decorative or plain plate that protects the area around a keyhole.
Etagere - An open shelving unit used for display purposes.
Brass escutcheon on oak bureau, 250 years old
Fall Front - A hinged door of a desk/bureau that drops down to create a writing surface.
Feather Banding - Narrow bands of veneer inlaid in opposing diagonal directions.
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, wax, French Polish, Shellac, lacquer and varnish.
Flat pack furniture - Unassembled furniture that a consumer assembles after purchase; (USA) Known as RTA (Ready to Assemble) or Knock Down Furniture
Fleur De Lis - A French floral emblem or carving in the shape of an Iris or Lily, the symbol of the Prince of Wales in the UK
Footrest - The brace or bar at the front of a stool for your feet.
Formica - Registered brand name of plastic laminate material. Used since the 1940’s to act as a hardwearing top to tables, cupboards etc
Frame - The basic structure of an upholstered chair or sofa; usually made from a hardwood such as Beech.
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. aka. Princess beds
Fall front bureau
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 gate.
Gilding - Decorative effect of applying gold leaf or powder to a surface.
Gimp - A fabric fold used to hide upholstery fasteners or tacks.
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 gilding.
Grain - The natural patterns in wood created by the direction of fibers.
Hardwood – Heavy and densely grained wood which is strong and resistant to dents etc. e.g. Mahogany, Oak. The wood from deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves during winter).
Harvest Table – (USA) A narrow, rectangular drop leaf table
Headboard - The upright structure attached to the head of the bed frame.
Hepplewhite - An 18th century furniture design.
Highboy - A tall or high chest of drawers upon a lowboy (base) raised on long legs; a two part case piece.
Hope Chest – (USA) A hinged top chest for the storage of items in anticipation of marriage. See also Blanket Chest & Coffer
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 buffet.
Hope chest ( aka, Coffer or Blanket chest
Inlay - Decorative technique of inserting contrasting wood veneers or materials to create a feature or design.
Intarsia - A form of inlay similar to marquetry; decorative inlaid panel or dimensional image.
Japanning - A finish imitating oriental lacquer work.
Kneehole Desk - Desk with a recessed central area for a person's knees.
Knot - A hard cross grained piece in a board generally from a branch protrusion; may loosen over time and fall out of the board.
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 – A Composite (plastic) used on flooring, counter or table tops; provides a heat resistant, wipe clean surface.
Leather - Tanned animal hides, used for upholstery & desktops.
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.
Leather topped small mahogany chest
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 sawdust and adhesive exposed to heat and pressure.
Mission Style - USA 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 arrangements.
Molding - Decorative strip covering joints or used for ornamentation around the top or base of pieces.
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 /cupboard 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.
Occasional Tables - Generally refers to small tables such as an end table, coffee table, console or side table.
Ogee - A double curve or S shaped molding or edge detail.
Ottoman - An upholstered low stool or footrest.
Ovolo - Convex molding referred to a quarter-round molding.
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 machine pressed into sheets.
Pedestal Desk - A desk with the top supported by two pedestals or small cabinets with drawers.
Pedestal Table - A table featuring a single central pedestal or column support instead of legs.
Pembroke Table - A rectangular table with small (1/3rd height) 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.
Pie crust mahogany dining table top
Quarter Sawn - Wood cut from a log which has been quartered lengthwise sometimes exposing distinctive grain patterns such as tiger striped oak.
Quarter Sheet - Similar to above but referring to a veneer where the 4 panels match and join e.g. On a table top
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 piece.
Retro - It generally implies a vintage of at least fifteen or twenty years.
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 slide.
Rush Seat - A woven chair seat using twisted stems of marsh grass known as rush.
Rule Joint, oak drop leaf table
Seat Rail - Horizontal support directly under the seat connecting the front legs with the back of a chair.
Secretaire - French term for a free standing writing desk with a drop down writing surface which looks like a cupboard before it’s opened. Often with shelves or drawers below; may also have a bookcase above.
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. S shaped.
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. Comes from shellac beetles who suck sap from trees in their native tropical forests.
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.
Sofa - Also known as a couch; an upholstered long seat with back and arms.
Sofa Table - A slender high table placed against the back or side of a sofa.
Softwood - Wood or lumber from conifers or evergreen trees such as pine or fir. Softer than Hardwood so easier to work but more easily damaged.
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 vertical turnings or spindles stretching between the seat and top rail.
Splat Back - The flat, upright central support of a chair back. A splat is generally shaped, pierced or otherwise decorated and is an important ornamental element.
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 revolves.
Stretchers, Oak side table
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.
Tempered Glass – aka, Safety 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 goods.
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.
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.
Vintage – No fixed definition but an old item, between 20 & 80 years old
Wardrobe – See Armoire
Webbing - Strips of elastic or woven fabric used to provide support for upholstered arms, backs and seats.
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 seat.
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 backrests.