A B C D E F G H I J K L M
N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Please click on the appropriate letter to browse to the terms.

A

Acanthus:
Classic Greek and Roman ornamentation based on conventionalized leaf of acanthus plant which grows in Asia Minor.
Acorn Turning:
Ornament resembling an acorn; used as finials on chair and bed posts, as pendants, and as feet in table legs. Characteristic of Jacobean furniture.
Adam:
Furniture designed the brothers Adam, Robert, and James, 18th Century English architects-designers, in the same Pompeiian classicism that earmarked their houses. Slim, straight-line pieces were delicate and simple; ornamentation, rich, yet restrained. Early work was in mahogany; later in satinwood and hardwood with much painted decoration.
Adelphi:
A trade name adopted by the Adam Brothers.
Apothecary Chest:
Simple, straight-lined chest with multiple small drawers; originally used by professional apothecaries. Now offered in wide variety of sizes for small storage items.
Applique:
A term given to applied ornament, such as carvings, turnings, lozenges, etc., which are tacked or glued to a surface rather than cut from the solid wood.
Apron:
A narrow strip of wood, or shaped element, such as the horizontal cross member under a table top, chair seat, or lowboy.
Arabesque:
A saracenic form of ornament, usually composed of naturalistic ornament twined about a rod or stem. Orginally as employed by Mohammedan designers, no animals were ever represented in an arabesque. The motifs were resticted to flowers, foliage, fruits, and figures of geometric design.
Armoire:
Tall wardrobe probably derivative of armor storage cabinets, often ornately carved or painted.
Arm Pad:
The upholstered part of a chair arm.
Arm Stump:
The front vertical support of the arm of a chair.
Arrow Spindle:
Flattened spindle suggesting an arrow, used in 18th Century English or Early American furniture ( backs of beds, chairs, settees)

B

Bachelor's Chest:
A small-scaled chest of drawers designed to house small items of male apparel.
Bail:
Metal reverse arch handle or drawer pull that hangs downward from pins attached to a backplate.
Ball-and-claw:
A carved foot found mostly on Chippendale designs. It is a form of ornament originating in China, and is supposed to represent a bird's claw grasping an egg.
Ball foot:
A turned foot for chests or chest of drawers, usually quite large in diamenter, and found on early styles.
Balloon-back:
Chair style developed by Hepplewhite having an open hoop-style back.
Bamboo:
The wood of the Bamboo tree is used for furniture in the East, and came to the Occident in various waves of Chinese influences. In the 18th Century it was so important that the characteristic appearance of the bamboo was simulated in the wood turnings in England and America.
Banding:
A narrow strip of the contrasting inlay, framing drawer fronts, table tops, etc.
Baroque:
A fantastic style of the 16th Century to the mid-18th Century marked by exaggerated scale, curves, and movement, and was always symmetrical.
Bas Relief:
Carving projecting only slightly from background. Same as low relief.
Batten:
Strips of wood used as a brace or cleat across one or more boards.
Bauhaus:
German school of art, industrial design, and architecture founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar in 1919. Probably the first exponent of "total design", it held to the philosophy that there should be a melding of all the arts...a marriage of arts and architecture with modern technology. Opposed to "art for art's sake" the Bauhaus subscibed to an honest expression of modern technology in the implements of daily living.
Bead:
a narrow half-round convex moulding, its surface being flush with the adjacent surface, or raised above it.
Bead and Reel:
A carved molding of Classical origin, the ordinary bead is interupted at regular intervals.
Bed-Bolt cover:
A small brass ornamant used to cover the head of a bed bolt.
Bergere:
A French armchair with closed upholstered sides and back.
Bevel:
A sloping edge, planed or chiseled on the edge of any surface.
Biedermeier:
Rustin German version of the French Empire. Name derives from popular comic character of the time, Papa Biedermeier, symbol of homey comfort.
Birdseye:
Mottled figure wood grain suggesting a bird's eye; mainly seen in maple.
Blanket Chest:
Low storage chest with hinged lid and often a lower drawer; serving also as bench.
Block Front:
A term applied to the unique type of construction for fronts of Early American chest of drawers and chest-on-chests; consisting of a concave, but fattened, recession at the center, and two convex, but flattened, swells on the ends. It is a type of construction supposed to have originated with John Goddard, a famous cabinetmaker in Newport, RI.
Bombe:
An outward-swelling kettle-base construction for chests of drawers and secretaries, found on the Chippendale and Louis XV styles.
Bonnet top:
An unbroken pediment or top section of a highboy, secretary and the like; also Hooded top.
Bookcase Headboard:
A headboard with built-in storage for books, radios, reading lights, etc. A modern form which has been given period interpretations.
Boss:
Round or oval ornament after Gothic sources common in the 17th Century English and American work, particularly on chests. Usually half turning painted black.
Bow Back:
Windsor chair back in which the bow or hoop is continuous either down to the arms or the seat.
Bow front:
Convex shaped front of a chest, buffet, etc., characteristic of 18th Century work.
Bracket Foot:
Simple base on chests and case furniture of the 18th Century. The foot runs two ways from the corner, in more or less simple shapes. The type was highly ornamented by Chippendale in England, by Goddard and others in America.
Breakfront:
A bookcase or china cabinet with a center section projecting forward from the two end sections. In bookcases, lower part of center section often contains a desk.
Brocade:
Heavy, rich fabric woven with raised pattern resembling embroidery. Used for upholstery; sometimes drapery.
Broken Pediment:
Pediment, straight, swan neck or goose neck, the side lines or scrolls of which do not meet at the apex.
Buffet:
French term referring to sideboard used to store china, silver, and linens. Top surface used as a counter in self-service informal dining.
Bun Foot:
A slightly flattened ball foot, Dutch in origin.
Bureau:
Low chest of drawers, generally used in bedroom with mirror. Originally a writing desk or table with drawers.
Burl:
A figured veneer secured from a tree at a place where an abnormal growth of some kind has produced a figure of unusual beauty in the grain.
Butterfly Hinge:
A hinge made of iron and resembling a butterfly. It is found on Early American furniture.
Butterfly table:
An Early American drop-leaf table, generally small, leaves of which are supported by swinging brackets suggesting butterfly wings.
Butterfly Wedge:
Cleat, shaped like wings of a butterfly, used to fasten to fasten adjoining boards.
Butt Hinge:
A square or rectangle hinge of brass or iron, the two leaves are connected by a pin.
Butt Joint:
The term refers to a joint on which the squared end of the one member is butted against the side or the end of another member.

C

Cabriole Leg:
A cyma, or double curved leg, arching outward at the top, inward near the foot which swings out again. It is used on Chippendale, Queen Anne, and Louis XV furniture .
Campaign Furniture:
Military, portable utilities such as chairs, tables, beds, chests, desks, etc. Often folding or separating into parts to facilitate carrying.
Canopy:
The frame or tester over a high four-poster bedstead, with or without its covering material.
Cant:
Bevel or chamfer, as on an edge.
Carolean:
Referring to the period of Charles II, King of England 1660-1685.
Cartouche:
A carved ornament based upon an unrolled scroll, the central part of which is often used as a field for painting devices or inscriptions.
Casters:
Small, swiveling rollers attached to the base or legs to facilitate moving a piece of furniture, first used in the early 19th Century.
Cavetto:
Concave molding often found as an important member of the cornice.
Cellarette:
Liquor storage cabinet or deep drawer.
Chaise:
French for long chair, reclining chair with elongated seat.
Chamfer:
Groove, splayed, or beveled-off corner of a post or a molding.
Channel:
Groove or fluting cut into a surface as a decorative accent. In upholstery, term applied to vertical tufting.
Chest:
A piece of furniture with stationary top and drawers and/or doors in front. Originally a trunk-like box with a hinged lid.
Chest-on-chest:
A chest of drawers in two sections, the smaller on top the larger one.
Chesterfield:
Overstuffed couch or sofa with upholstered ends.
Cheval Glass:
A full-length swinging mirror hung between two posts anchored by a cross beam. Smaller versions, often with drawers in base, are used atop chests or dressers
.
Chevron:
V-shaped design for inlay and other decoration.
Chiffonier:
French term for a high narrow chest of drawers for the boudoir.
China Cabinet/Closet:
Cupboard, with glass sides and front. Used to store and display fine china. Term often abbreviated to china.
Chinese Chippendale:
18th Century furniture style of the Chippendale School using Chinese motifs and decoration.
Chinoiserie:
French term for the Chinese manner; lacquered and/or painted decoration which grew out of Europe's mad love affair with things Oriental between the 17th and 19th Centuries.
Cleat:
Strip of wood fastened to a flat surface to brace or strengthen or to prevent warping.
Club Foot:
A term referring to poorly formed feet on Queen Anne furniture.
Clustered Columns:
Three or more small wooden columns clustered together to form a single support used as bedposts, table legs, chair legs, etc.
Cocktail Table:
Low table, any shape, used in front of sofa or chair when serving cocktails; otherwise, holds accessories.
Coffee Table:
A low table used in front of the sofa to hold a coffee service.
Coffer:
Hinged-top chest used as seat, table, or trunk for valuables.
Collar:
Molding around a leg.
Comb Back:
Windsor chair back in which several spindles extend above the main back, resembling an old-fashioned high comb.
Commode:
Low, small chest generally used against a wall and fitted with drawers and doors. Chippendale produced many fine designs and probably was the first to plan the commode for the bedroom and clothing storage.
Console:
Originally a large bracket supporting a shelf, but in furniture parlance it refers to any group consisting of a table or cabinet with a mirror hung above it. Term loosely used for any wall table.
Contemporary:
Although literally "of our day" tern applied to middle-of-the-road, conservative modern furniture; simplified traditional; terminology used by manufacturers and retailers alike attempting to appeal to both modernists and traditionalists.
Core:
The foundation upon which veneer may be applied, usually poplar or similar porous wood or chip board.
Corinthian:
Most elaborate of the Greek architectural orders; columns whose capital consists of scrolls and acanthus leaves.
Corner Block:
A bracket used to reinforce the joints of chair seats and similar structures on the inside.
Corner Cupboard:
Three-sided china cabinet designed to fit into a corner; having curved or straighten front; sometimes built-in.
Cornice:
The top horizontal molding of the column or piece of the furniture; also applied to framework from which draperies are hung.
Couch:
An arm less. back less lounge or sofa for daytime resting; generally with head rest at one end.
Countersink:
Conical boring in wood to receive a screw head so that the surface of the screw is lower than the wood surface.
Cove:
A concave molding.
Credence, Credenza:
Origin probably religious, from credere, to believe. Small sideboard or buffet used for carving or displaying plate.
Crinoline Stretcher:
Stretcher on Windsor chairs, the two front legs joined by a semicircular curve, with short stretchers to the back legs. Also known as a cowhorn, spur, or crescent stretcher.
Cross Banding:
Veneer banding in which the grain runs crosswise.
Cross Fire:
Regular mottled figure across the grain of the wood, yielding a brilliant transparency, particularly in some mahogany, walnut, satinwood, and other tropical woods.
Crotch:
V-shaped figure attained when veneer is cut from joint of tree trunk and limb.
Crown:
The carved top of an early chair, or a molding found at the top of a cabinet.
Cupboard:
Cabinet or box with doors; for storage. The special types and names are numerous, springing from the special uses and locations. Sometimes a cupboard is considered an architectural feature only, the free-standing equivalent being a cabinet.
Curio Cabinet:
A case with glass door, panels, shelves; used to display art objects.
Cyma:
From the Greek for wave- a simply double curve.
Cyma Recta:
The ogee molding.
Cyma Reversa:
The cyma recta reversed.

D

Dado:
A square groove cut with or across the grain of the wood.
Damask:
A flat-woven reversible upholstery fabric in a figured pattern on silk, linen, wool, cotton, nylon, or combinations.
Davenport:
Small writing desk. In current American use, an upholstered sofa.
Daybed:
Uni-level couch with low head and foot boards, used lengthwise against the wall; for resting in the daytime.
Deal:
English term for pine, particularly the Scotch pine.
Dentils:
Molding or inlay pattern made up of regularly-spaced rectangles, resembling teeth.
Diamond-Matched Veneer:
Straight-grained woods cut diagonally and put together in quarters so as to produce a diamond pattern.
Directoire:
Period ( 1792-1804) following the French Revolution when royal decoration was replaced by classic ornament. Furniture which showed Greek and Roman influence was simple and graceful.
Divan:
upholstered couch without arms or back, originating in Turkish form of piling rugs for reclining.
Document Drawer:
In desk cabinets, the small vertical drawers, usually found one on each side of the central compartment in the interior or writing section. Often ornamented with carved colonnettes, etc.
Doric:
The second order of Classic architecture, also one of the plainest, the capital having little carving.
Double Dresser:
Low chest with two tiers of drawers, usually three in each.
Dovetail:
Method of joining boards at right angles by interlocking wedge-shaped tenons and mortises. Generally used in drawer construction. Also, a butterfly-shaped inset used to join boards lengthwise in table tops and floors.
Drake Foot:
A three-toed foot found on Queen Anne furniture.
Dresser:
Derivative of the French term, dressoir. Originally a table used to dress meats. Evolved into cupboard for utensils and dishes. In United States term applies to chest of drawers with mirror.
Dressing Glass:
Wood-framed tilting mirror mounted atop a miniature chest with one or two tiers of tiny drawers. Originally used as a shaving mirror.
Drop Front:
Hinged desk which falls forward to form a writing surface.
Drop Leaf:
Table with hinged leaf or leaves which, when raised, extends top surface.
Drum Table:
Round library table with a deep apron, sometimes with drawers.
Dry Sink:
Low Early American two-door cupboard with zinc or copper-lined open sink top, behind which rises a background. The forerunner of today's kitchen sink, it's currently used as a bar or a planter.
Dust Proofing:
Thin panel used between to exclude dust.
Dutch Cupboard:
Large cabinet or buffet with open shelves above for displaying plates, etc.

E

Eclecticism:
In design, the free or rigid adaptation and/or combination of forms and decorations from various countries and periods.
Egg-And-Dart:
An ornamented molding in which an egg shape alternates with a dart. Also referred to as egg-and-anchor or egg-and-tongue.
Empire(French 1804-1815):
Napoleonic style based on classic Greek, Roman, and Egyptian forms; simple in line, rich in the use of materials.
Enamel:
A paint used as overglaze, made of finely ground pigments and varnish. A hard, glossy wood finish is achieved through brushing and rubbing.
End Table:
A small table used at the end of a sofa.
Endive:
A carved leaf motif.
English Regency:
The English version of the French Empire, this period (1793-1830) reflected the general European interest in antiquity and return to classic forms, rich ornamentation. Furniture was small-scaled, well-proportioned; combining curves and straight lines.
Entasis:
Slight swelling of a column at the middle designed to overcome the optical illusion of hollowness that appears in a perfecting straight column.
Escutcheon:
A fitting over a keyhole or the back plate of a handle. They are usually of metal, but sometimes ivory, bone, or inlaid veneers.
Etagere:
Whatnot; a series of shelves supported by columns, used to display curios.
Evolute:
Recurrent wave scroll used to decorate friezes and bands. Opposite direction of involute.

F

Facade:
The front of a building; also applied to the front of cabinets.
Fall Front:
A drop front or drop lid, as in a cabinet-desk or piano. Sometimes "slant front".
Fan:
Radiating design suggesting a fan, either upright or downward position.
Fancy Chairs:
Early 19th Century American chairs designed or decorated in the imitation of imported models. These often have a charming and revealing style, such as the Sheraton-inspired work of Hitchcock.
Feathered:
Certain grains, particularly of mahogany and satinwood, are referred to as feathered when they are cut to show a plume like figure.
Federal:
American period(1795-1830) beginning shortly after the Revolution. Classic style, mirroring that of Europe at the time. Wood mainly mahogany; with extensive use of brass.
Ferrule:
Metal band at the base of a wood chair leg.
Festoon:
Carved or molded ornamentation representing a garland or series of curves; scallops made up a floral chain, a rope, a drapery, etc.
Fiddle Back:
Chair with violin-shaped splat back.
Field Bed:
Small-scaled canopy bed with comparatively low posts and curved canopy. Originally designed as a portable bed.
Figure:
In wood, certain characteristic marking other than the customary straight grain. These are spoken of as crotches, burls, butts, curls, mottles, feathers, waves, crossfire, etc.
Filigree:
A term applied to the decoration on mirror frames of the type designed by the brothers Adam. plaster or composition ornament was molded upon a network of wires.
Fillet:
Small band, or fascia, used for separating molding; also a small cleat or ledge for supporting loose shelves.
Finial:
Decorative terminal, placed vertically to accentuate a point or the ending of a structural feature, such as a post.
Flame:
The carving of a finial resembling the flame of a torch.
Flitch:
Part of a log that is sawed into veneers; the bundle of consecutive sheets of veneers when cut.
Flush:
Any surface level with an adjacent surface.
Flutes:
Hollows cut perpendicularly in columns, pilasters, legs, friezes, aprons, etc. Good flutes are close together and deep, with a sharply scooped curve for the ending. The ridge between the flutes is a fillet.
Footboard:
Panel in the lower end of a bed, or the entire end.
French Polish:
Process of finishing with a high gloss by applying successive films of shellac in spirits.
French Provincial:
Rustic interpretations of court style produced in various provinces of France (1625-1800), the furniture of each region bearing its own characteristic stamp.
Fret
: Interlaced ornamental work, either perforated or cut in low relief on a solid ground, usually in geometric patterns; also the tracery of glazed doors and windows. Particularly characteristic of Chippendale's Chinese manner, it was also adapted to his Gothic designs.
Frieze:
The plain or decorated section under the cornice mold.
Fruitwood:
The woods of the various fruit trees have always been used for small furniture, especially in provincial work. These woods are usually hard and durable, and polish well. Pear, apple, and cherry are the most used woods of this class.

G

Gadroon:
Ornament carved on the edges either of flat areas or of turnings resembling short convex or concave flutes or ruffles. It is common in Elizabethan work, Italian Renaissance, and other styles influenced by Italy.
Gallery:
Small railing of metal or wood; or raised rim around the tops of tables.
Game Table:
One of the earliest specialized types of tables developed for games, such as dice, cards, chess, or draughts, backgammon, etc.
Garland:
A decorative detail representing a wreath or free arrangements of flowers, leaves, or fruit.
Gate-Leg Table:
A type of table on which the leaves are supported upon framed gates made to swing out from the frame of the table on either side. The frame of the tables is usually turned.
Georgian:
Period (1715-1795): Covers the reigns of George I, II, and III up to the time of the Regency includes the works of Chippendale, Sheraton, the Brothers Adam, and Hepplewhite; shows strong French and Oriental influences.
Gesso:
A substance made of plaster and glue, which may be molded into ornament of various shapes, and which is usually painted or gilded.
Gimp:
A woven ribbon used in upholstering to cover the heads of tacks on a piece of furniture.
Glazed Doors:
Doors fitted with glass, often with a lattice pattern of woodwork, or tracery.
Glazing:
In painting, glazing is the application over the finish paint of a thin wash coat that is then wiped off, thereby modifying or subduing the base color. It produces a soft, mixed tone.
Gooseneck:
Double curved arch of the pediment of highboys and the like; also called a swan-neck.
Gothic:
Period (1100-1550) strongly influenced by ecclesiastical architecture. Nobility and mobility were handmaidens since constant warfare made nomads of feudal barons; so their straight, heavy furniture consisted principally of trunk-like chests, folding chairs, and dining tables ( board on trestles). Wood was oak, carved or with linen-fold ornamentation; sometimes painted tracery.
Gouge Carving:
Rudimentary form of decorative carving found in cruder styles such as the Gothic in Spain and England. Usually simple chisel marks in rhythmic repetition.
Grain:
Pattern arrangement of wood fibers.
Graining:
Process of painting to resemble the color and figure of wood.
Greco-Roman:
Refined decoration style of the late classical antiquity, roughly 200 BC- AD 200. Appeared in the 18th Century through the excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii, and formed the basic for 18th Century revivals. In itself a free mixture of style in Rome, Greece, and Egypt.
Greek Key:
Band pattern of intersecting short lines at right angles, forming a series of squared hook shapes.
Griffin:
Mythological creature having an eagle's head supported by a lion's body. Used as a decorative motif.
Grille:
A term applied to ornament composed of turned spindles, decorative wrought iron , or pierced carving, used as a screen over an opening; often fabric-backed.
Gros point:
French meaning large needle. A kind of coarse embroidery used in upholstery in which the stitches are comparatively large.
Gueridon:
A small French occasional table with rounded top.
Guilloche:
Continuous running or band ornament of interlacing circles or figure 8's enclosing circular medallions.

H

H-stretcher:
Typical stretcher construction, as in some Windsor and Chippendale chairs. A stretcher from front to back leg on each side is connected through the middle by a third member.
Hadley Chest:
Early American chest, first found in Hadley, Mass. Typical tulip carving over front rails as well as the three panels; often with a drawer.
Haircloth:
Fabric woven of horsehair, colored, or small-figured, typical of mid-19th Century upholstery. A mixture of horsehair and linen was used by the 18th Century English.
Half Column:
An architectural column split in half, and fastened to edges of highboys, cabinets, and secretaries, in the same manner as a pilaster.
Half-Turning:
Turned members sawed in half, lengthwise, usually applied to a flat surface as ornament, particularly in English and American Jacobean, Italian, and German Renaissance. Also used as spindles in Jacobean chairs with the smooth side to the sitter's back.
Hall Tree:
A tall metal or wood framework with "branches" to hang hats, coats, etc.; sometimes with umbrella rack at the base.
Harvest Table:
Long, narrow rectangular table with hinged drop-leaf sides, straight legs.
Hasp:
Hinged portion of a hinge lock.
Haut Relief:
French name for a deep carving.
Headboard:
Simple panel at the head of the bed.
Herringbone:
Inlay banding in which the alternately slanting grain produces a chevron or herringbone effect.
H-Hinge:
One with exposed, long flat leaves that opened to resemble the letter H.
Highboy:
Tall chest of drawers, usually in two sections, the upper chest being carried on a tablelike structure or lowboy with long legs. The form is English.
Hitchcock:
The Hitchcock chair is an American type, 1820-1850, named after Lambert Hitchcock of Connecticut. The typical form derives from a Sheraton "fancy" Chair, and has a typical "pillow back" or oval turned top rail, straight-turned front legs, a ruch or caned seat enclosed in thin wood strips. Most often these were painted to simulate rosewood, with a unique powered-gold stencil of fruit and flowers.
Hood:
Shaped top, usually curved, on a highboy, clock case, etc.
Hoop Back:
Chair back whose uprights and top rail form a continuous curve.
Horseshoe Back:
In Windsor chairs, outward sweep at the base of the bow of the back.
Huntboard:
Generally of Southern origin, a long, high sideboard table of shallow depth; in basic form simply a board or frame from which one served drinks to a group after the fox hunt.
Hutch:
From the French huche. A chest or cabinet with doors, usually on legs. An early form descending from the Gothic and disappearing after the 17th Century.

I

Imbrication:
Decoration having regularly overlapping tiles, shingles, scales, etc.
In The White:
Any cabinetwork or woodwork in the raw state, before the wood is finished.
Incised Ornament:
Deeply cut engraved or carved, the entire being cut into the surface rather than raised from it.
Inlay:
A design made in wood by intersecting flush with the surface pieces of contrasting wood or other materials such as ivory and mother-of-pearl.
Intaglio:
Design carved or cut below the surface of a material; opposite of cameo.
Intarsia:
Form of wood inlay, especially of other materials, such as ivory and metal, derived from Oriental ivory inlays.
Interrupted Arch:
Arched pediment, the center or top part is cut away.
Inverted cup:
Turning profile of cup shape typical of Jacobean and later work.
Ionic:
Greek and Roman order of architecture, distinguished by double voluted capital.
Italian Provincial:
A coined style erroneously believed to have originated in the provinces of Italy. Actually simplified versions of French and Italian Directoire furniture.

J

Jacobean:
From the Latin Jacobus. General term for English styles up to 1688. It is composed of the furniture built during the reigns of James I, Charles I, Cromwell, Charles II, James II.
Japanning:
17th and 18th Century European process of painting and enameling to imitate Japanese lacquering.
Jigsaw:
Saw for cutting interior work, such as pierced work, fretwork, latticework, etc. Originally operated by a treadle, it was one of the first machines to which power was applied. As a consequence, jigsawed detail is typical of the earliest machine age in the 19th Century.
Joint Stool:
Jacobean stool with turned legs, originally with mortised-and-tenon joints.

K

Kas:
Dutch cabinet or sideboard; appears in the Dutch-American colonies of New York and the Delaware valley; sometimes carved walnut, also pine, cherry, or maple; paneled and painted with rather primitive ornaments of vases and flowers.
Keepers:
A clasp of brass or iron to hold two sections of a large dining table together.
Kerf:
A saw cut. Sometimes on the curved work; a series of saw cuts against the grain, not quite through the board, permitting the bending of the wood into curved shapes.
Kettle Base, Front:
Bombe-shaped case, swelling or bulging front and/or sides. Of Baroque inspiration in the early-18th century Continental work, it occurs in fine American Late Colonial.
Key Pattern:
See Greek Fret. Ancient Greek band ornament of interlacing lines at right angles. Carved on Mid-Georgian and inlaid or painted on English Regency furniture.
Kidney Table, Bench, Desk, Etc.:
Oval shaped with concave front, applied to dressing tables, writing tables, etc. Appears in 18th Century furniture of England and France. Especially favored by Sheraton.
Kiln Dried:
Lumber dried by artificial means in warm chambers. The heat is regulated to prevent the too sudden loss of moisture to checking, warping, and other defeats. Besides speed, kiln drying is superior to air drying because the remaining moisture can be controlled.
Klismos:
Classic Greek chair recognized by the concave curves in its back and legs. Style revived in the French Directoire and American Federal periods.
Kneading Table:
Utilitarian furniture of the provinces of Europe, now used as tables and side tables. Provincial French ones are particularly decorative.
Knee:
The upper, convex curve or bulge of the cabriole leg, sometimes called "hip".
Kneehole:
Desks, chests, or bureaus are sometimes built with an opening in the center, between the two blanks of the drawers; so called because they make room for the sitter's knees. Sometimes this space is filled part way from the back with a door compartment.
Knife Edge:
Single seam on pillows, as distinguished from box edge with two seams.
Knocked Down:
Furniture which comes from the factory in parts to be easily assembled by the store or customer.
Knuckle:
Carving on the outside end of chairs, principally of Chippendale and Windsor.
Knuckle Joint:
Joint; as at separable leaves of a drop-leaf table, resembling a finger joint.

L

Lacquer:
Oriental lacquer is aa high dense finish acquired by tedious padding up and rubbing down of many coats of sprits shellac. This has nothing to common with modern lacquer, which is a compound of cellulose derivatives. These dry so rapidly that they must be sprayed by compressed air. Such lacquers now posses many qualities not found in varnish or shellac finishes, such as the resistance to heat , moisture, and acids. It can be rubbed to a clear satiny finish that emphasizes the beauty of the wood; it is also made opaque, like paint, and tinted to any shade.
Ladder Back:
Chair back with horizontal slants or rails resembling a ladder. Common types in Pilgrim furniture and in simpler Chippendale work.
Ladies' Desk:
Lighter and smaller desks on legs, developed in France and England after 1690.
Lambrequin:
Drapery hung from windows, shelves, or around the top of a bed; can also have a stiff backing.
Laminate:
The binding up of layers; in wood panels three, five, or more layers are laid alternately across the grains for strength and durability.
Landscape Panel:
Wood panel with the grain running horizontally.
Lathe:
Machine for shaping turned parts by the application of cutting edges against the revolving wood.
Lap Table:
Decorative rectangular board with deeply-curved cut-out on one side; used on lap or over chair arms for writing, eating, etc.
Lattice:
Carved crisscross pattern in cutout work, found in chair backs, highboy pediments, etc.
Laureling:
Decorative banding of laurel leaves, usually on a half-round molding.
Leaf:
A table top extension. Also a decorative motif, used in both realistic and conventional forms.
Library Steps:
A piece of occasional furniture, used to reach books on book shelves; steps variously combined with tables, stools, benches, etc., and often a hand rail.
Library Table:
Large table with drawers and space for books, usually on a pedestal base.
Linenfold:
Gothic ornamental panel treatment representing the folds of linen, probably after the folded napkin on the chalice in the Catholic ritual.
Lion Motif:
Heads and paws of the lion used as decoration; heads often carved as knees of cabriole legs, paws as the feet. Also cast in brass for hardware such as the lion-and-ring handle.
Lip Molding:
Small convex or quarter-round molding around drawers, originally intended as a dust stop in Queen Anne and Early Chippendale Casework.
Livery Cupboard:
Early English food cupboard. Livery is probably a contraction of "delivery." Food was stored here and distributed to the household and to the poor. Ventilation was a necessity, often provided by grilled by grilles of wooden spindles, or tracery.
Loop-Back:
Oval chair back; also Windsor bow back, without arms.
Lotus:
The water lily conventionalized in classic ornamental form.
Lounge:
Type of couch in late 19th Century work, often with one high end as a pillow.
Love Seat:
Double chair or small sofa, Queen Anne and later. Also, "courting chair."
Low Relief:
Shallow carved design.
Lowboy:
English low chest or table with drawers. Beginning in Jacobean times by raising a chest on a stand, it continues through the English and American work of the 18th Century in various s forms as dressing tables, side tables, etc.
Lozenge:
Decorative panel, overlay, motif, etc. in the shape of a diamond.
Lunette:
Half-moon shaped decoration.
Lyre:
Harp-type stringed instrument used as a decorative motif for chair backs, table pedestals, etc.; found especially on Duncan Phyfe furniture.

M

Marbling:
Process of painting wood to simulate the color and markings of marble.
Marquetry:
Inlay of contrasting wood into a background of veneer.
Mate' Chair:
Same as captain's chair, without arms.
Medallion:
A round, oval, or rectangular ornament, usually carved, and applied near the junction of two members as chair legs where the stretchers join it. May be of wood, stone, ceramic, or metal that is painted, carved, etched, or stamped.
Mission:
Heavy, dark, oak furniture originating in Spanish missions of California. Crude and blocky with square lines. It is upholstered in leather with hand-hammered copper nailheads. Popular in the first decade of the 20th Century, it paralleled the Arts and Crafts Movement in England.
Miter:
Joint in the molding where it changes direction, usually at 90 degrees.
Modillion:
a series of ornamental brackets projecting at regular intervals beneath a cornice.
Mohair:
Lustrous upholstery fabric, originally made from the hair of the Angora goat. The Moors introduced it into Spain where it spread to England and northern Europe. Today it is a cotton-wool mixture.
Morris Chair:
A large, straight-lined wood framed easy chair with adjustable back, loose cushions. Named after it's supposed inventor, William Morris, it is the ancestor of the easy chair.
Mortise:
Hole in wood, into which the tenon or tongue fits.
Mosaic:
Inlaid patterns of small pieces of wood, glass, stone, etc., conventional or pictorial in effect.
Mother-of-Pearl:
The cut and polished hard internal layer of certain shells used mainly for inlays.
Motif:
Distinctive feature or element of design or ornament; theme.
Mottled:
Spotted, speckled, or blotchy figures in veneer.
Muffin Stand:
Small tier for plates, used in tea service in England and America.

N

Nail Heads:
The exposed heads of nails, perform both decorative and functional purposes, usually in leather upholstered furniture.
Nest of Drawers:
Quantity of small drawers or boxes contained in a case; a diminutive chest of drawers, chiefly English, 18th and 19th Centuries.
Nest of Tables:
Set of several tables, designed in fit over one another.

O

Ogee:
A molding with a cyma or S-shaped profile.
Ogive:
A pointed arch, Gothic.
Onion Foot:
An oval-shaped, bulbous foot suggesting a somewhat flattened onion.
Onlay:
Overlay; decorative appliqué, as of veneers.
Orders:
The orders of Architecture are the standardized ornamental types of columns. They are based on Greek and Roman remains. The three Greek orders are the Doric, Ionic, And Corinthian. The five Roman orders are the Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite.
Ormolu:
From the French or moule; gilded or brass mounts for furniture or art objects.
Ottoman:
An upholstered seat minus the arms and back, often used as a footstool from Turkish influence.
Oval Back:
Chair shape, best developed by Hepplewhite after the French precedent.
Ovolo:
Convex classical profile, usually the full quarter of a circle. When enriched with the egg-and-dart molding, it is known as "echinus."

P

Pad Foot:
A foot found on Queen Anne furniture, having a disk resembling a pad under the foot proper.
Palmette:
Conventional presentation of a palm leaf in ornament.
Parquetry:
Wood veneering inlaid in geometric patterns, in which respect it differs from marquetry, which is more pictorial in design.
Patina
: Color and texture of the surface produced by age and wear. In wood furniture the varnish, shellac, or oil has a tendency to deepen ,yet retains transparency; edges wear smooth and sharp outlines are softened.
Pedestal:
A tall, narrow, floor-standing column designed to hold art objects.
Pediment:
The triangle-shaped top of a classic building. It is a motif adapted for the tops of important cabinets and secretaries. The bonnet top is also spoken of as a pediment, it being a variant of this type of superstructure.
Peg:
A wooden nail used to hold furniture parts together; sometimes exposed to create decorative interest in Early American pieces.
Pembroke Table:
Small rectangular drop-leaf with drawer, the leaves supported by brackets in the frame. Earliest recorded, made by Chippendale about 1771; named after the Earl of Pembroke.
Pendant:
A hanging ornament.
Pickled Finishes:
Cloudy white patina over light wood, originally produced by the removal with vinegar of the plaster base of the painted wood.
Pie crust Table:
Small table, usually round with edge carved or molded in scallops outline. Pier Glass : A tall narrow mirror, hung between two windows or in a narrow space, usually over a table of console type.

Q

Quadrant:
A quarter circle shaped piece of metal used to support drop fronts.
Quartered:
Method of cutting the log into four quarters through the center, and then into parallel boards in order to produce a grain having a cross section of the rays.
Quatrefoil:
Gothic form made from the conventionalized four-leaf clover, the four intersecting curves being enclosed in a circular shape.
Quirk:
Narrow groove molding, a sunken fillet or channel.

R

Rabbet:
Rectangular slot or groove in joinery. Also a recess in the meeting stiles of cabinet doors so that one shuts against the other to form a dust proof joint.
Rails:
Horizontal members of framed furniture. In beds, the long sidepieces. In casework, the framing that holds the sides together.
Rake:
The angles of a slanted or splayed member, such as a chair back or table leg that is not strictly vertical.
Random Joints:
Joints in either veneer or solid board walls or floors, in which there is no attempt at matching either grain or width of boards.
Range Tables:
Several identical small tables planned to be used together as one long table.
Recamier:
Chaise lounge shaped like an ancient Roman bed or reclining couch with graceful curved high end. Named after Madame Recamier.
Recessed Stretcher:
Middle or cross stretcher of chair or table set back from the front legs.
Recliner:
Lounge chair with adjusts to various positions, including reclining; usually incorporated a hidden footrest.
Reeding:
Two or more beads set closely in parallel lines, either flush with or raised above the surface they decorate. The reverse of fluting.
Refectory Table:
Long narrow table so called after the refectory or dining room of the monks in ecclesiastical institutions of the Middle Ages.
Regence:
French period covering the end of Louis XIV's reign, until the accession of Louis XV, about 1680-1725. It is marked by the transitional from massive straight lines to the gracious, curved, intimate style of Louis XV.
Regency:
English period, roughly 1793-1820, during part of which George, Prince of Wales, late George IV, acted as Regent. Furniture style is marked by declining classic influence of Pompeiian studies, and increasing use of Roman, Egyptian, and earlier Greek Styles. It coincides with the Directoire and Empire styles.
Relief:
Raised ornament or sculpture in which the carving is raised or above the background. Various styles are characterized by high or low relief carving.
Renaissance:
Literally "rebirth." Signifies period (1400-1700) when, beginning in Italy, classic Greco-Roman art and architectural sources were tapped again for design inspiration, eventually supplanting Gothic throughout Europe. Massive furniture, at first simple, later highly ornate and heavily carved.
Rent Table:
18th Century English round or octagonal pedestal table with drawers marked with days of the week or dates. They were used by the landlord as a sort of filing arrangement in collecting rents.
Replica:
Reproduction or copy of a piece of furniture, usually old or historic period; accurately copied from the original in all details of material, technique, detail, and finish.
Repousse:
Decorative sheet-metal work in which the design is hammered forward from the back.
Restoration:
Period in English history, succeeding the Puritan Revolution, beginning in 1660 with the restoration of the monarchy of Charles II and ending in 1688 in the Bloodless Revolution. It is the first part of the Age of Walnut. The Baroque influence appears in the Restoration's sweeping curves and generous ornamentation, which caused oak to be replaced by the more easily worked walnut. The period is also referred to "Carolean," "Late Jacobean," or "Charles II."
Restoration Chair:
A typical English 17th Century form with high caned back, turned legs, and richly carved scroll design on the front stretcher and top rail.
Return Mold:
A molding running from the front to the rear of a cabinet.
Riband:
Ribbon ornament. In some Chippendale chairs the splats simulate elaborately arranged ribbons. Ribbons in bows or knots were important in Louis XVI decoration and were characteristically treated in German Rococo work of the 18th Century.
Rinceau:
Continuous ornament of spiral or wavy form, sometimes called the branching scroll when intertwined with stems and leaves.
Rising Stretcher:
Serpentine or X-stretchers curving up toward the intersection; found in Louis XIV and allied styles.
Rocking Chair:
A uniquely American piece of furniture developed in the Colonial period, it consists of a chair mounted on curved runners which create a rocking motion when the unit is occupied.
Rococo:
An 18th Century European style of elaborate decoration based on natural forms including flowers, fruit, leaves, shells, and rocks (rocaille) from which its name is derived. Mass forms of these motifs are imaginative and asymmetrical.
Roll top:
In desks, a tambour or flexible cylindrical hood drawn down as a lid.
Romayne Work:
Carved medallions of human heads.
Room Dividers:
Any piece of furniture or any other article which performs the architectural function of partitioning a room.
Rope Mold:
18th Century decorative molding, quarter or half round, spiral channeled to simulate a rope.
Rosette:
Rose-shaped patera or disk ornament.
Rotary Cut:
Method of slicing veneer; log of wood cut so it resembles paper coming off a roll.
Roundabout Chair:
A corner chair with one front leg, one back leg, one on either side, a rectangular seat placed on the diagonal and a circular back rail supported by three uprights, usually extensions of the back and side legs.
Roundel:
Any ornamental disk or motive enclosed in a circular shape, such as a rosette, medallion, patera, etc.
Routing:
Decorative engraved lines made by a portable revolving spindle.
Rule Joint:
Hinged joint, as between a table top and flap, which leaves no open space when the leaf is down.
Runner:
Sometimes the rocker of a rocking chair; Also a guide strip for a drawer, either on the side or the bottom.
Rush:
Stem of a marsh-growing plant, a sea grass, used to weave chair seats.

S

Saddle:
Chair seat scooped away to the sides and back from a central ridge, resembling the pommel of a saddle. The best examples occur in Windsor chairs with thick pine seats.
Salem Rocker:
New England rocking chair after 1800. Has heavy scrolled seat and arms, a lower back than the Boston rocker, light straight spindles, and a heavy top rail scroll.
Saltire:
X-form stretcher.
Sash Bars:
Framework of glass doors in cabinets.
Sausage Turning:
Continuous turning similar to the spool turning, frequent in the 19th Century American furniture.
Savonarola Chair:
Italian Renaissance X-shaped chair of interlacing curved slats and wooden back, carved or inlaid with certosina work.
Sawbuck:
Table frame or base having X-shaped supports.
Scale:
Relative size; proportion of a piece to its surroundings.
Scallop:
Carved shell ornament after the escallop shell.
Scotia:
Concave molding, about one-quarter round.
Scratch Carving:
Crude form of carving usually done with a V-chisel.
Screen Table:
A small fireplace table which becomes a screen when its top is turned down to an upright position.
Scroll:
Ornament of spiral or convolute form.
Scroll Arm:
Chair terminating at the hand in a scroll.
Scroll Foot:
Curved foot not fully articulated with the block above, as in a cabriole leg.
Scroll Top:
Broken pediment formed by two S or cyma curves; also swan-neck.
Seaweed Marquetry:
Fine line design resembling marine plant life.
Secretaire:
Closed desk, usually with drawers below and bookcase above. In Europe, sometimes called "bureau."
Segmental Corners:
Panel corners broken by curved lines, typical of Regence work.
Segmental Pediment:
Unbroken curved pediment, the arc of a circle.
Semainier:
Tall narrow chest or chiffonier with six or seven drawers, planned for supply of personal linen for each day of the week.
Serpentine:
Waving or undulating surface. A serpentine front, as in a commode, has the center convex or protruding, while the ends are concave. Reversed serpentine fronts have a more complex curve. Serpentine stretchers are X-type with curves.
Serrated:
Zigzag or sawtooth ornament of Gothic origin; a form of notched dentil.
Serving Table:
Dining room side table with drawers for silver.
Settee:
A long seat with side arms and back, sometimes upholstered; light-scaled forerunner of today's sofa.
Settle:
All wood high-back bench built to the floor, with solid wood end panels. Seat sometimes consists of a box with a hinged lid.
Sheaf Back:
Typical small chair of France, late 18th century and early 19th century, having a delicate back resembling a graceful bundle of rods spreading out in a fan shape. They usually had straw seats.
Shell Motifs:
Various shells appear as ornament in all styles, but the scallop-shell (cockleshell) form is most common, especially in Italian and Spanish Renaissance furniture. The Rococo style is actually based in part on the use of the shell ornament. In Queen Anne furniture the shell is typically placed on the knee of cabriole legs; Chippendale used it is as a central theme in carving. Rococo shells are perforated; Louis XV style uses pierced shells as a center for two acanthus sprays. In later 18th century work the conch-shell form is used as an inlay motif.
Shell Top:
Cupboard of half-round recessed plan, whose round top is a half dome carved with ribs to simulate a shell.
Shellac:
Natural resin soluble in alcohol. The mixture may be brushed on or padded on, and dries quickly, after which it is susceptible to fine satiny polish by rubbing down. The padding produces the high-gloss brittle finish known as French polish. Shellac finishes are easily damaged by moisture and heat.
Shield Back:
Typical chairback form of Hepplewhite, having double curved top rail and a half ellipse below, filled with various openwork designs, such as vase forms, three feathers, swags, and ribbons.
Shoe:
A metal cup terminal for a wood leg, sometimes part of a caster.
Side Chair:
Chair without arms usually small. Term generally refers to dining chairs other than the host and hostess chairs.
Side Rails:
The long narrow boards or rails that connect the headboards and footboards of beds.
Sideboard:
Originally an open-shelf dining room piece( literally a side board or boards) the sideboard later consisted of doors and/or drawers below, sometimes open shelving above for the display of plates, etc.
Skirt:
See apron.
Slant Front:
Desk or secretary with writing section enclosed by a fall lid that when closed slants back; probably originally to rest a book or writing material upon.
Slat:
Crosspieces supported on side rails of a bed to carry the spring; horizontal crossbars in chairback to brace uprights and to support back of sitter.
Sleigh Bed:
American version of the Empire bed, the scrolled ends slightly reminiscent of sleigh fronts. They are usually used lengthwise to a wall.
Slip Seat:
Same as "loose seat" separate upholstered wood frame, let into the framework of the chair seat.
Slipper Chair:
Small side chair or armchair with low legs, designed for bedroom use.
Snack Table:
Small occasional table used individually for informal dining; often folds for easy storage.
Socle:
Plain block used as a plinth or base for a case piece or as a pedestal of a statue.
Sofa:
Long upholstered seat for two or more persons. The name "sopha" is of Eastern origin and was first used about 1680 to designate a divan-like seat in France.
Sofa-Bed:
An upholstered couch with hinged arms and hinged back which drops to seat level, converting unit into a bed and forming half of the sleep surface. Also called "jack-knife."
Sofa Table:
Long, narrow 18th century English table with drop-leaf ends and drawers.
Solid:
In reference to wood furniture, term means lumber rather than veneered plywood; solid pieces of the same wood, minus the veneers. Solid woods generally have less interesting graining than veneers.
Spade Foot:
A rectangular tapered foot suggesting the outline of a spade, common in Hepplewhite designs.
Spanish:
Always massive and masculine, robust and vigorous, Spanish furniture for some 700 years (until the 16th century) was Moorish-inspired; marked by the rich inlays, carving, brilliant color, decorated leather(tooled, painted, or embossed). The Renaissance brought wrought iron stretchers and braces; sling seats on square chairs; large ornamental nailheads; ornate metal mounts and the vargueno (desk box with fall front).
Spanish Foot:
Rectangular ribbed foot larger at the base, usually with a weak scroll.
Sphinx:
Mythical winged monster, half woman and half lion. Of Egyptian origin, it occurs in all classical schools of furniture.
Spice Cupboard:
A small cupboard to hold spices, etc., usually hanging. Often miniatures of floor cabinets in the 18th century.
Spindle:
A thin turned member, often tapered or molded, used in chairbacks.
Spiral Turning:
Twisted turned work, typical of chair and table legs of the 17th century. They were favored in Germany and Flanders; in less robust forms they are found in late 17th century English work.
Splad:
Flat central vertical member in a chair back.
Splay:
Pitch; rake; cant; outward spread or slant, as of a surface or leg.
Split Spindle:
A spindle turning cut in half lenghtwise; applied as surface decoration or used in chair backs with the flat side inside.
Spool Turning:
Continuously repeated bulbous turning suggesting rows of spools. In America in the 19th century, it was a favorite turning after the introduction of the machine lathe.
Spoon Back:
Queen Ann chairbacks were often curved in profile like a spoon to fit the shape of the body.
Spring Edge:
Upholstered edge that is supported by springs rather than by the hardwood frame. Now universally used in lounge chairs.
Stand:
Any small table, used for holding or displaying objects such as shaving stands, candle stands, etc.
Standard:
Adjustable or swinging mirrors are carried on uprights called standards. Also the term for a frame that carries a table or case piece.
Stepped Curve:
Broken curve, the parts being interrupted by right angles.
Step Table:
A two-tiered rectangular occasional table suggesting a pair of steps.
Stile:
Outside vertical member of a cabinet or door, which frames a panel.
Stool:
Armless, backless seat.
Stopped Channel Fluting:
Filled fluting; lower part, usually about 1/3 of fluting, filled with a reed like rounding, sometimes carved like beads.
Straight Pediment:
Triangular or gable pediment of a cabinet or secretary, unbroken and uninterrupted.
Strap Hinge:
Hinge with long straplike leaves, usually of iron, and common in Gothic work in England and on the Continent.
Stretcher:
Crosspieces or rungs connecting legs of chairs, tables, etc.
Studs:
Large or fancy upholstery nails used as decoration.
Stump:
Front support of arm chair.
Stump Bedstead:
Beds with neither canopy nor posts.
Suite:
A set of matched furniture for a particular room; a group of furniture pieces--living room, dining room, or bedroom--in which a single design theme maintains.
Sunburst:
Figured grain in wood in which crossfire or divergent rays radiate from a center.
Sunflower:
Carved or painted motif in Colonial Connecticut chests.
Sunken Panel:
Sinkage or set-in panel in posts or other flat parts of furniture.
Swag:
Festoon; swinging or suspended decoration, representing drapery, ribbon, garlands of fruits and flowers, etc.
Swan-neck:
Curved broken pediment of two s-curves, usually ending in paterae.
Swatch:
A small sample cutting of upholstered fabric, leather, etc.
Swell Front:
Convex curved front, as in a chest or commode or any case piece.
Swing Leg:
Hinged leg to support a drop leaf; similar to a gateleg, but lacking the lower stretcher.
Swivel Chair:
Revolving seat on a fixed frame, used for desk chairs, dressing chairs, music stools, etc.
Swivel Rocker:
Same as swivel chair but also rocks.

T

Table Chair:
Armchair or settle with hinged tabletop as the back.
Tablet Chair:
Armchair with one flat are wide enough to use as a writing table. Frequent in American Windsor types.
Tabouret:
(From tabour, a small drum.) Low upholstered footstool, French, 18th century.
Tailpiece:
A tongue on the back of some Windsor chair seats, designed to receive two spindles that act as a brace for the bow.
Tallboy:
Highboy or chest-on-chest, a wide low chest carrying a slightly narrower taller chest. The top tier of drawers is often divided into two or three.
Tambour:
A door of thin, flexible wood strips mounted on heavy fabric while slides in a groove either horizontally or vertically.
Taper:
Diminishing toward a point, characteristic of furniture legs, round, or square.
Tapestry:
Woven fabric of wool and linen or silk with representational or abstract design, used as an upholstered cover.
Tavern Table:
Low oblong table on simple framework of turned or square members; chiefly American and English, 18th and early 19th centuries.
Tea Cart or Wagon:
A mobile server; often with drop leaves, tray and drawer. Originally an 18th century piece, it has evolved into today's bar cart, barbecue cart, etc.
Tenon:
Tongue or projecting part of the wood that is fitted into a corresponding hole or mortise.
Term:
Pedestal, plinth, or pillar, often carrying a bust or decorative figure, used as accents in decorative compositions.
Tester:
Canopy of a four-post or draped bed, either wood or fabric.
TÍte-#-tÍte:
Small two-seat sofa or love seat of the 19th century in which the two seats face in opposite directions, the backs forming an S-curve.
Therm Foot:
Tapered foot of rectangular plan. Spade foot.
Therm Leg:
Four-sided or square tapered leg.
Thumb Molding:
Convex molding shaped in a flattened curve, like the profile of a thumb.
Ticking:
Woven fabric used to cover mattresses, box springs, and pillows.
Till:
Drawer or compartment in desks, chests, etc., for money, jewels, etc. They are often made with secret locks or springs.
Tilt-Top Table:
A small, pedestal-based table with hinged top which may be tilted to hang vertically when not in use.
Tongue And Groove:
Wood joint, in which a continuos projecting member fits into a similar rabbet or groove.
Tooth Ornament:
Carved ornamental repeat molding, like dentils. Also called "dogtooth."
Tochere:
A floor lamp which casts light upward. Originally a pedestal or stand to hold a candelabrum.
Tortoise Shell:
Shell of a sea turtle, often used for inlays in combination with other materials.
Torus:
Bold convex round molding, usually in circle of 1/2 inch or more, sometimes flattened.
Tow:
Flax fiber used as upholstery stuffing in place of hair in inexpensive furniture.
Tracery:
Delicate latticelike forms of bars and lines with spaces for glass or openings, derived from Gothic windows in which a framework within the large opening was necessary to sustain the glass, which at first was in small sections. Tracery, when it encloses glass, should properly, actually separate pieces of glass, but modern commercial work merely uses a cutout pattern of filigree over a pane of glass.
Tray Table:
Folding stand used to support a tray.
Trefoil:
Three-cusp or three-arc ornament characteristic of Gothic work. Usually inscribed within a circle.
Trestle Table:
Originally, all tables were merely loose boards placed upon trestles or horses. In the Middle Ages the "dormant table" was a permanent structure of table with trestles attached; this became the fixed-table type. The trestle form survived, as distinguished from the four legged or pedestal table, in various arrangements of posts and feet, more or less ornate, in all styles to the present.
Triple Dresser:
Long dresser with three tiers of drawers and/or compartments.
Tripod Table:
A small table mounted on a pedestal terminating in three outward-flaring legs.
Trivet:
Three-legged metal table or stand used near a fireplace to warm dishes.
Truckle Bed:
Trundle bed.
Trumpet Turning, Leg:
Turned leg with flaring profile of a trumpet turned upward. A distinguishing feature of the William and Mary style.
Trundle Bed:
Low rolling frame fitted as a bed, designed to roll under a larger bed.
Truss:
Ornamental brace or bracket.
Tuckaway Table:
Compact folding table with cross-legs which fold together to permit the top leaves to drop close together. Early American modification of a narrow English gateleg table.
Tudor:
English period (1485-1688) during which massive oak furniture maintains straight, square, stiff Gothic lines but show Continental Renaissance influences in elaborate bas relief carving. Tables and chairs have low stretchers, melon-bulbous legs. The Tudor rose motif is common throughout entire period.
Tudor Arch:
Elliptical arch pointed in the center, representative of the English Tudor style.
Tudor Rose:
Carved conventionalized rose motif, symbolic of the Tudors.
Tufting:
Means of anchoring the cover on upholstered furniture or mattress by sewing through the filler, often with buttons; arranged to form a pattern (rows of squares, "biscuit tufting," or staggered to create a diamond form, "diamond tufting").
Tulip:
A conventionalized pattern suggesting the tulip flower and leaf, carved or painted.
Turning:
Turning, one of the most ancient wood-working processes, is done by the application of cutting tools to the rotating surface. The device for rotating or turning the wood is called a lathe. This is the oldest idea in wood-working machinery. Egyptian lathes were operated by a bowstring; later lathes were worked by treadles. In the Middle Ages, a form of spring lathe depended on the elasticity of a wood lever alternately winding and unwinding a winch. Probably the earliest application of water power and later, stream power was to the lathe, so that in all ages turning has been convenient and direct method of treating decoratively.
Tuxedo:
A sofa, with rectangular side panels or arms which join to, and are the same height as, the back.
Tweed:
A wool, cotton or synthetic fabric fashioned of two or more colors of yarn dyed before weaving.
Twin Bed:
Uncommon until the 20th century. Sheraton mentions the idea, suggesting a "summer bed" of two narrow units united by a arched canopy.
Twist:
Spiral or screw turning.

U

Umbrella Stand:
Chiefly English mid-19th century development of simple utilitarian receptacle into a conspicuous item of hall furniture.
Underbracing:
Strengthening a piece of furniture by means of stretchers.
Under Construction:
Springs in back and under seat deck of upholstered furniture.
Uprights:
Outer vertical posts in a chair back.

V

Valance:
Drapery of a canopy bed; also the horizontal part of drapery treatment.
Vanity:
Modern name for a dressing table.
Vargueno:
Spanish drop-front desk-cabinet on a stand.
Varnish:
Wood-finishing material of gum dissolved in linseed oil, applied in films or skins, by brush or spray, to protect and beatify wood surfaces.
Vase Splat:
Chair with back splat whose silhouette suggests that of a vase or urn.
Velour:
Velvet or plush, often of wool or mohair.
Velvet:
Fabric with soft close pile, usually of silk or rayon; velveteen is of cotton.
Veneer:
A thinly-cut slice of decoratively-marked wood glued to a stronger, thicker, solid wood or plywood backing.
Vine Motif:
Running band ornament of grapes and leaves.
Vitrine:
Cabinet with clear glass door, sometimes glass sides and top, for the storage and display of china, curios, etc.
Vitruvian Scroll:
Wavelike series of scrolls in a band ornament, carved, inlaid, or painted. Also called "running dog."
Volute:
A spiral scroll.

W

Wainscot:
Panelwork not covering the wall all the way to the ceiling.
Wainscot Chair:
Chair with a heavy, solid paneled back. They were probably developed from the detachment of a piece of wall paneling with a seat-board attachment.
Wardrobe:
A large utilitarian cabinet in which to hang clothes.
Warp:
A bulging of wood boards due to changes in moisture content. Also in fabric, threads which run lengthwise.
Washstand:
Small table or cabinet holding a basin and the accessories for washing, developed during the 18th century.
Water Bench:
American, 19th century rustic, usually found on the back porch for the farmhands; usually homemade of available materials, sometimes with a zinc basin, a lower cupboard for pitchers, and an upper shelf.
Water Gilding:
Thin deposits of gold and mercury on ormolu mounts.
Webbing:
Linen or jute bands woven to form support for spring and filler in upholstered furniture. In Scandinavian-type modern furniture with loose cushioning, webbing is often rubber; in aluminum outdoor furniture, plastic webbing is often used alone as support without cushions.
Webfoot:
Grooved or carved foot of a cabriole leg suggesting the webbed feet of animals.
Welsh Cupboard, Welsh Dresser:
Cabinet with drawers and door compartments below, the receding upper part having open shelves for the display of china.
Welt:
Narrow fabric edging or border of round section sewed into the seams of upholstery for accent and finish.
Wheat-Ear:
Carved ornament representing three or more ears of wheat; a Hepplewhite signature in chairbacks, etc.
Wheel-Back:
A chair with round or oval back having radiating design suggesting the spokes of a wheel.
Wicker:
General term for furniture woven of various natural or synthetic materials, such as willow, reed, rattan, or spiral twisted paper. Particularly used in summer and outdoor furniture.
William And Mary:
Period(1689-1702) in which the baroque influence was brought to England from Holland. Period also marked by introduction of such new pieces as the multi-legged highboy. Salient characteristics; straight trumpet leg braced by curved, flat x-shaped stretcher, often having a center finial.
Window Seat:
An upholstered two-seater with arms but no back, originally used in the nook of a window; sometimes built into bay windows.
Windsor:
Style of chair using bent wood back frame and wood seat with the legs pegged directly into the seat instead of being framed with aprons. The type seems to have originated around Windsor castle in England between 1700 and 1725, and appears to have been made by wheelwrights or turners rather than by cabinets makers; the English Windsor usually has a pierced slat flanked by turned spindles suggesting wheel spokes. The American colonists carried the Windsor to its ultimate development , producing a chair of the utmost strength, comfort, lightness, and ease of manufacture. They appeared in infinite variations of comb back, fan, hoop, and bow backs, made in a combination of woods. They were often painted of left in the raw wood, and the notion was carried to settees, beds, tables, etc.
Wine table:
Horseshoe-shaped table for the serving of wine. English after 1750.
Wing Chair:
Comfortable large chair with side pieces, usually overstuffed. The general type existed in France as the "confessional" but the usual implication is the type evolved in England and America.
Winged Claw:
Heavy couch foot used in Empire sofas and other heavy pieces.
Writing Arm:
Tablet arm; wide board suited for a writing tablet, as in Windsor chairs.
Writing Desk:
Flattop desk or any table type of proper size for writing, usually fitted with drawers or desk compartments. Original desk or "bureau" was merely a table with cloth called bure.

X

X-Chair:
Ancient type of chair based on the folding chair. It was known in Egypt and Rome, and appears in the Middle Ages.
X-Stretcher:
Crossed stretchers, straight or curved.

Y

Yorkshire Chair:
English carved side chair of the 17th century, peculiar to Yorkshire. It stems from the panel or wainscot chair, and is invariably of oak with turned legs and stretchers.

Z


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