Like pretty much every area in the vintage and collectible world, furniture has its own vocabulary. There are even words and phrases out there that would make you think they mean something completely different. Here’s a few of them:
Dovetail—this is a term in wood working that’s used to designate a method of joinery. This is used a lot to join corners of drawers and cabinets. It’s a series of cuts to make a tenon or tongue that looks the shape of a dove’s tail that interlocks with alternating similar cuts piece of wood.
Vitrine—this is a French term for display or china cabinet. This type of cabinet has large sections made out of glass so that you can show off the items stored inside.
Escutcheon—this is an ornament plate that surrounds a keyhole on a piece of furniture or a door. These plates come in a wide variety of motifs.
This is only a tiny amount of what is out there. What have you heard?
When I first started selling vintage items, I quickly found out that there’s a name for just about every piece out there-even for furniture. I quickly started to learn the names of these pieces when I started to do some basic repairs to the furniture that I bought.
Here’s a few of the terms that I have learned over the years:
Bracket foot–a bracket foot is used on a chest, a chest on chest or even a cabinet. This is a foot that has a straight corner edge and curved inner edges. Sometimes I hear these curved inner edges “scalloped edges”.
Caning—caning is a wood piece that consists of rattan (or even sugar cane) that is made into wicker. There are a wide variety of ways this is used including seats of chairs, patio furniture, etc.
Partner’s desk—a partner’s desk literally looks like two desks that were put together to make one. It’s a desk large enough to seat two people that are facing each other. Each side has their own drawers or cupboards.
What are some of the terms that you have either run across or heard?