Cabinet Terminology

by Oct 6, 2019Cabinet School, Uncategorized

Accessories  Supplemental parts of the cabinet referred to as “bells and whistles”. Any non-essential component such as roll-outs, pull-outs, lazy-susans and organizers. 
Angled Corner  A cabinet designed to fit on an end of an upper or lower cabinet creating a fixed angle. 
Appliqué  A carved or etched decorative piece of wood installed on the face of a cabinet. Also referred to as an onlay. 
Arch  Door style with an arched top. 
Base Cabinet  Any cabinet designed to install directly on the floor. Some form of a counter top, such as laminate, engineered stone or granite, is applied on-site. 
Bead Board  Design style that incorporates a beaded, routed detail to flat wood panel coverings. The beaded panels are typically 2. or 3 inches wide, but there are many variations. 
BERP  (Base End Raised Panel) A decorative panel, usually matching the door style, designed to be applied to the side or back of a cabinet, or island. 
Bevel  A portion of material removed from the edge of a piece of wood. This technique can be used to create a natural finger-pull on a beveled-edge door. Also used to create a specific angle when two pieces of wood are joined together…two pieces have a 45° bevel and create a right angle when joined.
Blind Corner  Any cabinet, upper or lower, installed into a corner of a room. Another cabinet will install directly adjacent to it hiding the blind portion. This gives access to an otherwise “dead” corner and provides more storage. 
Bumper Pad  A small spongy material placed on a cabinet door to soften the noise when it’s closed. 
Bun Foot  A round, decorative, furniture type foot used on the bottom corners of base cabinets. 
Butt Doors  Two cabinet doors covering a single opening that’s too large for Just one door. The edges of both doors nearly meet. The opening does not have a center stile. 
Butt Joint  A term used when the edges of two pieces of wood are joined together. 
Cathedral Arch  Door style with a uniquely curved top on the door and frame. 
Center Stile  A vertical strip that is a component of the face frame. It usually divides a cabinet opening equally. 
Corbel  A decorative wooden bracket used as a support mechanism for mantels and bar tops. 
Corner Blocks  Any type of wooden, plastic or metal component used to strengthen any joint. Typical application is where a face frame and end panel are joined. 
Crown Molding  A term for any molding that is applied to the top of the upper cabinets. 
Custom Cabinets  Custom cabinets are just that – custom-made. You can choose from a wide range of options and have cabinets made especially for your taste. You can specify the cabinet’s dimensions, structure (framed or frameless), shape, wood species, finish, moldings, and special detailing. Custom cabinets offer endless number of options, but the cost will be higher than with semi-custom or stock cabinets. 
Dado  A 1/4″ +/- deep channel or groove cut against the grain of a piece of wood. A dado joint is formed when a cross member is fitted perpendicular into the channel. 
Dentil Mold  A term used to describe a decorative tooth-like pattern on any trim molding. 
Dovetail  A term used to describe a joining process of two pieces of  material. Both pieces have wing-shaped notches that interlock. Considered the strongest joint typically used in furniture and cabinet drawers. 

Dowel  A small piece of wood that is about 0.25 inch diameter, used to join cabinets. 
Drawer Face/Front  Finished front panel of the drawer assembly. The panel will match the door chosen. 
Drawer Slides/Guides  The hardware installed on drawers that supports the gliding motion of the drawer. 
Edge Banding  A thin layer of material that is hot-glued to the edge of particle board, plywood or shelving material. 
End Panel  The wood panel on the outside (left or right side) of a base cabinet. 
Engineered Wood  A term used to describe several types of construction material. Engineered wood, such as MDF and HDF, is more dimensionally stable than solid wood. 
Filler  A piece used to fill any gaps in the cabinetry design in order to make the design fit the room precisely. 
Finishes  The surface treatment of a wood product to enhance the beauty of its natural color and grain definition. Usually applied in steps, such as stain, sealer and a clear top coat such as a catalyzed varnish. 
Five Piece Drawer Front  A drawer front that is made using a frame with a panel that floats in a groove on the inside edge of the frame. It is made in the same manner as a frame and panel door. 
Flat Panel  A recessed center panel of a door or drawer design conveying Transitional, Shaker, or Arts and Crafts styling. 
Flute  A concave shallow groove that is routed into a wood surface. Fluting is usually applied vertically. Common use is as an overlay on a cabinet stile or filler for a decorative effect. 
Frame and Panel Door  A door that is made using a frame with a panel that floats in a groove on the inside edge of the frame. 
Framed Cabinet  Refers to a cabinet with a frame joined to the front of the box, typically made from 1-1/2″ wide material. The vertical pieces, called “stiles,” and the horizontal pieces, called “rails,” reinforce the cabinet structure and provide mounting space for the doors and drawers. Framed cabinets are  available in Traditional Overlay or Full Overlay styling. Traditional Overlay styling has an exposed front frame beyond the area covered by the door, typically one to two inches in diameter. Full Overlay styling has larger cabinet doors and drawer fronts, so that most or the entire cabinet front frame is concealed. Framed Cabinets are more traditional than the more contemporary Frameless Cabinets.
Frameless/European Cabinet  Also known as a Full Access Cabinet or European-Style Cabinet. Refers to a cabinet without a front frame (or face frame). Instead, the front edges of the box are covered (edge banded) with matching wood veneer. Because there is no front frame, the doors and drawers are fastened directly to the inside of the box. The absence of a front frame allows easier, unobstructed access into the cabinet and allows for a greater variety of hinge choices. Frameless Cabinets offer a clean, contemporary look. 
French Leg  A furniture-grade decorative leg used on the bottom corners of base cabinets. 
Full Extension Drawer Slide  A slide that allows the back of the drawer to come all the way out even with the front of the cabinet. 
Full Inset  Style of cabinet door that fits inside the face frame (or front frame) of the cabinet. 
Full Overlay Door  Style of cabinet door that completely covers the frame or edge of the cabinet box, giving prominence to the door and drawer design. 
Furr-Down  A drop down or “box-out” at the ceiling typically 12″ high and 14″ deep. Often used for heating ductwork. Kitchen cabinets are installed up to it creating a step effect. Also called a soffit or bulkhead. 
Galley Rail  Any molding using tiny spindles to create a front retainer along a plate rail cabinet top. It gets its name because of its likeness to galley rails used on ships. 
Glaze Finish  An additional finish treatment that is applied to improve a standard stain, enhance door detail and smooth out wood species variation. Glazes also enhance wood color and tone. Glazes actually enhance and improve the beauty of the wood and the base finish color. Glaze treatments and techniques can vary from heavy to light, with lighter treatments lending themselves to a more subtle appearance. 
Grain Variation  A term used to describe the natural, dissimilar grain patterns  of wood. 
Joint  A construction term used when two pieces of material are joined or attached together. Common types are:   Butt   Cope and Stick   Dado   Dovetail   Miter   Mortise and Tenon   Rabbet   Tongue and Groove 
Kerf  A saw cut that is made on the surface of a board to relieve stress. It is used to create a curve, such as with a toe kick around a curved base cabinet. 
Kiln Dry  A term used to describe the process of oven drying fresh cut lumber. The process removes excess moisture so raw lumber can be fabricated into a finished product. 
Knob  A hardware item, typically round in shape, attached to doors and drawers for function and decoration. Also called a pull. 
Knot  A hard node in any wood species where a branch once grew. 
Laminate  To bind together layers of wood, plastic, or other material using heat and pressure. Also a product made of layers of wood, plastic, or other material, often used in the fabrication of kitchen countertops. 
Lazy Susan  A corner kitchen base cabinet with shelves rotating on a center pole for easy access. 
MDF  Medium Density Fiberboard. An engineered wood with a very tight and smooth surface. MDF consists of wood fibers glued together in a press under very high pressure. MDF is very stable and is favored for laminating with thermo-foils and melamine. 
Melamine  A slick plastic-like material used to cover a substrate of particleboard or MDF. This material is popular because it is durable and easy to clean. 
Millwork  Any type of machined woodwork. 
Miter  A joint made when two beveled surfaces form a specific angle 
Mitered Frame door  A door that does not use a rail and stile frame Instead it has four pieces of similar shaped wood with each end cut at 45 degree angles that join together in the corners like a picture frame. 
Modified Full Overlay  Doors that are sized to almost touch, reducing the appearance of the front frame. 
Modular  Any unit constructed with “standardized” sizing. Modular cabinets are generally manufactured in 3″ increments. 
Moldings  Trim pieces used to improve the aesthetics of a cabinet or set of cabinets. Varieties include crown, rosette, fluted and rope. 
Mortise and Tenon  A specific joining technique. The mortise (groove or slot) is cut into a piece of wood. The joint is made when an opposing piece cut with a tenon (a collared protrusion) is slipped into the mortise. 
Mounting Rail or “Cleat”  A piece of wood that extends horizontally along the bottom and top of upper cabinets and along the top of base cabinets used for securing the cabinet to the wall. Also the piece of wood on a base cabinet that runs from front to back at the top used for mounting countertops. 
Mullion Doors  Mullion doors have glass inserts in place of the typical solid center panel. The inserts typically have horizontal and vertical dividing bars similar to those in windowpanes. 
Nomenclature  A string of letters and numbers used to identify specific cabinet types or accessories. 
Onlay  A carved or etched decorative ornament installed on the cabinet face. Also referred to as an appliqué. 
Overlay  Decorative panels affixed to a cabinet surface or attached to the ends of upper or base cabinets. 
Partial Inset Door  Also referred to as a lipped door. Style of cabinet door that partially rests inside the face frame and has a lip on the edge that partially overlays the face frame. 
Partial Overlay  Style of cabinet door found on a framed cabinets that overlays the face frame by 1/4″ – 1/2″, leaving most of the face frame exposed. 
Particle Board  An engineered material made of wood particles glued and compressed together. 
Peninsula  Similar in design to an island except open on only three sides. Often used in “L” shaped kitchens as serving bars that separate the kitchen from the dining or family room. 
Plywood Sheet  Material that is made of thin layers of wood glued together so that each layer has an alternating grain structure. One or both outside layers of plywood can consist of a wood veneer, available in a variety of species. Typically there are between 7 and 13 layers of wood in plywood with a thickness of 1/2″ to 3/4″. 
Puck Lights  Lights mounted under wall cabinets, often used to shed light on counter tops below. May also be installed inside wall cabinets to illuminate them. 
Pull  A hardware item attached to doors and drawers for function and decoration. Also referred to as a knob. 
Rabbet  A technique for joining two pieces at right angles. A portion of material is removed from the edge of one piece similar to the thickness of the other piece. When the two are attached the joint is strengthened. Also called a half-lap joint. 
Racking  Generally caused by poor installation, “racking” occurs when a cabinet is twisted out of square, and results in poor door and drawer alignment and operation. 
Rail  The horizontal structural component of a door’s top and bottom edge. These horizontal pieces join the vertical door stiles of the frame. 
Ready to Assemble  Also known as “RTA”, refers to cabinets or furniture that must be completely assembled by the customer. 
Recessed Door  A door with a flat panel that is held inside the perimeter of the frame. A flat panel that rests between the stiles and rails. 
Re-Facing  Refers to a kitchen remodel or “makeover” in which the actual cabinet and drawer boxes remain in place. A new, thin plastic laminate is applied to the exposed outsides of all cabinet surfaces, and all doors and drawer fronts are replaced with new ones. Handles, hinges and drawer slides can be replaced and upgraded as well. Re-Facing is more convenient than a complete removal and replacement of cabinets, and is a good option when an updated layout of the kitchen is not desired. 
Reveal  The exposed portion of the cabinet face frame that is seen when the cabinet door and drawer are closed. 
Rope Molding  A piece of molding milled to appear twisted like rope. 
Rout  To drill or gouge out an area of wood for decorative or joining purposes. 
RTF (Rigid Thermo Foil)  RTF is a laminate used in the process of fabricating a one-piece door. 
Scribe Allowance  Face frame extensions beyond the cabinet box that can be trimmed to ensure proper fit. 
Scribe Molding  A generic piece of molding, usually 1/4″ thick and up to 1″ wide, for the purpose of trimming and concealing any discrepancy where the cabinet meets a wall. 
Semi-Custom Cabinets  Semi-custom cabinets offer more options than “stock cabinets” and are available in a number of different sizes, shapes, wood species and finishes. Semi-custom cabinetry provides styling options in both framed and frameless offerings, including varying depths, special finishes, inverted frames, etc. 
Skin  A 3/16″-thick veneer panel generally used on the ends or backs of upper or base cabinets. 
Slab Door  A door that has no frame, and is instead made of a solid slab of wood, usually made with several narrow strips of wood laminated together to achieve the desired width of the door. Some slab doors are made using a manufactured substrate with a veneer over it. 
Soffit  A drop down or “box-out” at the ceiling typically 12″ high and 14″ deep. Often used for heating ductwork. Kitchen cabinets are installed up to it creating a step effect. Also called a furr-down or bulkhead. 
Solid Wood  A panel or door made of solid wood is comprised of boards that are joined or glued together to form the width of the panel. Because natural woods have variations in color and grain pattern from board to board, these variations will be apparent in a solid wood piece. A solid wood piece is more expensive than a veneered piece. 
Standard Overlay  A cabinet door that overlaps the cabinet opening by 1/2″ on all four sides. Often used for a door style that is designed to work with a specific hinge type. 
Stile  The vertical structural component of a door’s left and right edge. These vertical pieces accept the horizontal door rails of the frame. 
Stock Cabinets  Stock cabinets are among the most popular cabinets sold, as  they are economical and offer a variety of sizes, shapes, wood species, and finishes. The selection is not as varied as with semi-custom and custom cabinets, however. 
Stretcher or Nailer  A structural component of the cabinet box. They are hidden horizontal members connecting the end panels at the back of cabinet. During the installation process 2″ to 3″ screws are used to mount the cabinet to the wall through the stretchers. 
Styles  The variety of cabinet doors the consumer has to choose from. Some styles are:   Arched raised panel (cathedral or eyebrow)   Square raised panel   Arched flat panel   Square flat panel 
Substrate  The structural material beneath a layer of veneer or laminate. 
TERP  (Tall End Raised Panel) A decorative panel, usually matching the door style, designed to be applied to the side or back of a cabinet, a pantry or refrigerator end panel. 
Thermofoil  Flexible, 100 percent solid-colored vinyl. With adhesive on its underside, it is applied to smooth, engineered wood or MDF which has been formed into a door, drawer or molding design. It has a solid coloration and is easy to clean and maintain. Ideal for durable areas. 
Tilt/Tip-Out Trays  Plastic or stainless steel trays attached to false fronts in the sink area are a popular accessory item ideal for storing sponges and other dishwashing supplies. 
Toe Kick  The recessed area at the bottom of base cabinets. Usually 4″ high and 3″ deep. 
Tongue and Groove  A specific joining technique where a groove is cut into one piece of wood. The joint is made when an opposing piece cut with a tongue (a collared protrusion) is slipped into the groove. 
Traditional Overlay  Overlay is the amount of front frame covered by the door and drawer. The exposed front frame is referred to as the reveal. The reveal on Traditional Overlay cabinets is typically 1”. 
Valance  A decorative panel installed across an open area, generally used above desks or sinks. 
Varnish  A hard, transparent coating used to protect the cabinet surface. 
Veneer  A veneer is a thin piece of solid wood that typically is attached to particleboard. The benefit of veneered components is that they are more uniform in finish and are more economical than solid wood. 
V-Groove  A vertical beaded or grooved door style design. Works well to highlight finish techniques. 
Vinyl Laminate  A material used on the interior of most cabinetry as well as most cabinet exterior end panel surfaces. Typically 2 mils thick, it is very easy to clean. Since vinyl is thinner than melamine, it can easily wrap various cabinet components while providing the highest degree of resistance to moisture and abrasions. 
Wainscot  A wooden facing or paneling that is generally applied to a wall or large end panel of a cabinet. 
Wall Cabinet  Any cabinet type designed to install at or above eye level. Common application is 18″ above the base cabinets. Also referred to as an upper cabinet. 
Warp  Any wood product that distorts or twists out of shape. Usually caused by excessive heat or moisture. 
WERP  (Wall End Raised Panel) A decorative panel, usually matching the door style, applied to the side or back of an upper cabinet.