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Wood Word Glossary

We know that shopping around for wood furniture can be difficult and confusing– pilaster, veneer, doweling… who comes up with this stuff anyway? Well we're here to help you out with our wood-savvy furniture glossary! Here's a quick list of some words you may see pop up in wood furniture description. You'll be talking like a pro in no time!

Armoire Back in the day, the French used to use these to store their armor. Nowadays we refer to an armoire as a tall decorative wardrobe.

Antiqued The antique look can be very elegant, so an "antiqued" finish is a piece that has been hand-distressed and stained to imitate the same worn-down look.

Bachelor's Chest These are small three-drawer chests that may replace a bedside table. These generally give a more sophisticated look, rather than the simplicity of and nightstand or small table.

Bail Referring to the reverse arch handle, or drawer pull that hangs downwards while pins attach it to a back plate.

Bombe This term is more commonly used in French-influenced furniture, but it refers to a more rounded manipulation of traditional styles or surfaces that swell outwards.

Buffet Yet another French term referring to a sideboard for china, silver, linens, with a top surface used as serving counter.

Cabinet Wood Wood with notably fine quality, intended for use as an exterior surface.

Campaign Chest This sturdy piece made it all the way from the battlefield to your living room. It's a small chest with metal corners and flush hardware.

Commode A small and low chest with drawers or doors.

Étagère Another term from the French, meaning a series of open shelves for displaying objects or books.

Fluting Wood with parallel channeling, usually vertical, used for columns and legs.

Grain If you've stuck around our site for a while, you'll know that we use this term a lot! The grain of wood is the fiber arrangement, giving the appearance of slight ridges or markings.

Highboy Hope you aren't getting sick of these French terms– this one is a very high chest of drawers that is saves more space than the traditional dresser.

Marquetry This term is used to refer to the decorative pattern from inlaying unusual woods (mother of pearl, etc.) into a veneered surface.

Softwood This is a generic term that is used for all wood of trees that remain green year-round.

Veneer We know this word comes up a lot, even in many of the definitions we've provided! This is a thin slice of decorative wood applied to another wood surface, and is very common in furniture these days.

We hope a few of these terms will help you on your quest for wood furniture!

Kalei Munsell

Posted by Kalei Munsell

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