Your Cabinet Store Terminology Guide

Mortises, tenons and ogees can all be found in a cabinet store. But what even are they?

Kitchen Cabinets Utah

Cabinetmaking is an ancient trade, so it’s no surprise that some of the lingo and terminology is a bit strange. Stroll into your local cabinet store, and you (hopefully) won’t be greeted by such foreign-sounding terms. A reputable cabinet store will have employees who are happy to help you decode and find what you’re looking for.

Still, if custom cabinetry is in your future, you might want to brush up on some basics. Here’s your ultimate guide to cabinet store terminology, with the funkiest of terms deconstructed.

  • Mortise: Simply a hole created to let a tenon pass through. But, wait, what’s a …
  • Tenon: A tenon is a protrusion with a collar. Put a tenon and mortise together, and you have a joint.
  • Ogee: When you make a single cut to two pieces and the result is an S-shape, you have an ogee.
  • Rail: Frames, whether doors or cabinets, are either vertical or horizontal. The horizontal frames are “rails.”
  • Valance: Valances are all about looks, and are commonly extra hardwood panels placed in open regions like above sinks.
  • Worm hole: No, this isn’t physics. In cabinet stores, a worm hole is a technique where the cabinet maker puts tiny round holes in a piece of wood so it looks like an insect snacked on it. Why would you want this? It’s how wood looks in the wild, and worm holes are much easier to glaze than real insect holes.
  • Rub through: It’s a special sanding technique that will sporadically show undercoats and/or natural woods. It’s also how you make shabby chic furniture. You can use sandpaper, steel wool or another abrasive material.
  • Reveal: Are you ready for the big reveal? Reveal means how much face frame you see around a drawer front or door when everything is closed.
  • Peninsula: You know about kitchen islands, but what about peninsulas? Once you get the reference, it’s easy to guess what a peninsula is. It’s usually connected to a wall and has three open sides.
  • Medium dents: Sometimes cabinet store lingo is blunt. Medium dents are a technique where wood is struck randomly to make indents so it looks antique. Larger than worm holes, they’ll pool glaze but are a must for antiquing your cabinetry.
  • Butt doors: While the pre-teen in you wants to giggle, this isn’t actually a type of cabinet that looks like a bum. Instead, it’s when two cabinet doors are used to cover an oversized opening. Usually, the opening is too big for a single door. The edges almost meet.

Prefer to not to stress about cabinet store lingo? Call AWA Kitchen Cabinet, and let local cabinet maker experts go to work for you.