Furniture Glossary

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Altralock An Altra patented quick assembly system. Components plug into each other by compressing one component and snapping it into place,

AltraMount An Altra patent pending system that allows TVs, shelves, desks, and many other furniture items mount onto a wall. The system is much easier to use than standard mounts, and can hide cables without rennovating the wall.

Apron Any panel that connects the surface of the table or chair to the legs. Used for stability and cosmetic appeal.

Audio Pier A verticle cabinet that is deeper than a typical bookshelf so that it can hold home theater components like DVD players. Audio piers often match a TV stand.


Bamboo Bamboo is not actually a wood, but a form a fast growing grass. Because it renews easily, it is considered an enviormentally friendly material. Bamboo can be used in beautiful applications, and tends to be as durable as many wood types.

Banding/ Edge Banding A strip of material that is applied to the edge of a panel to seal or finish the edge. Can be made of different materials such as PVC, ABS, acrylic, melamine, wood or wood veneer.

Bentwood Wood that is steamed until it becomes pliable and then is shaped for making furniture. Bentwood typically has no seams or joints because the wood can be made into curved shapes.

Beveled Edge An angular trim made on a piece of hardwood making the edges on the hardwood rounded down and no longer sharp. The angle of the trim runs from the top of the solid hardwood to the bottom of the solid hardwood adjacently. Looks like a V in appearance

Buffet A piece of furniture that stands at the side of a dining room and typically has shelves and drawers. A buffet may also be used as a counter or sideboard from which food and drink are served.


Cam lock Bolts and locks that are connected with a quarter turn of a screw driver. This is a very simple connection tool used mostly in Ready to Assemble furniture.

Canvas Fabric A heavy, closely woven fabric. Used for clothing, chairs, bins, sails or tents.

Case Goods Large pieces of furniture, primarily constructed of wood. Furniture that is considered Case Goods typically is already assembled.

Casters A caster is a wheel mounted on to a piece of furniture to make it mobile.

Chrome Chrome is a compound treated on metal furniture to give it a shiny, mirrored look. Chrome typically is used on Desks and TV stands and gives a high end look.

Coffee Table A coffee table, also called a cocktail table, is known to be a long, low table which is designed to be placed in front of a sofa, to support beverages (hence the name), magazines, feet, books (especially coffee table books), and other small items to be used while sitting, such as coasters.

Commercial Office Furniture Furniture typically built speicifically for an office. The furniture is more heavy duty in material and weight and can take a lot more wear and tear than average office furniture.

Component Electrical equipment purchased separately but can be hooked together to make a system. Components include DVD players, Blu Ray players, cable boxs, Video Game Console, Receivers, etc.

Computer Cart A computer desk on wheels can easily transport from room to room. Generally, smaller than a desk.

Computer Desk A desk that can hold a laptop computer or is specifically designed to hold a personal computer. It may have features such as keyboard tray, CPU holder, monitor riser, disk storage, USB hub, or drawers.

Conduction A transfer of energy that requires contact, but no wires are needed. Used for wireless charging cell phones and Ipods.

Console A cabinet designed to stand on the floor and used for many different purposes. Examples are a console table or TV console.

Corner Desk A desk specifically designed to be placed in a corner. It could be a variety of shapes, but is made solely to fit in a corner space.

Cross Ventilation The circulation of cool air through openings, taking advantage of convection (heated air movement). This helps prevent your components from overheating in a TV stand.

Curio A curio is a predominantly glass cabinet with a metal or wood framework used to display collections of figurines or knick knacks. Most curios have glass on each side or a mirror at the back and glass levels to show the entire collection being displayed.


Distressed finish This refers to an accelerated aging process in which newly manufactured parts look as though they have survived years of aging and use. Distressing is a very popular furniture finish technique.

Door Muillions A structural element that can be placed vertically or horizontally to divide a window or door into two or more parts. Typically the mullion divides a pane of glass on a door and is created wood, metal or stone.

Dorm Furniture Furniture made specifically for a dorm. It could be small in size, colorful, or marketed during a Back To College season.

Double Pededstal Desk A double pedestal desk is usually a large free-standing desk made of a simple rectangular working surface resting on two pedestals or small cabinets of stacked drawers of one or two sizes on either end. Often, there is also a central drawer above the legs and knees of the user.

Dovetail A dovetail joint, or simply dovetail, is a joint technique most commonly used in woodworking joinery. Noted for its resistance to being pulled apart (tensile strength), the dovetail joint is commonly used to join the sides of a drawer to the front.

Dowel A dowel is a solid cylindrical rod, usually made of wood, plastic or metal. It is used as a fastener that is inserted into holes of two adjacent pieces and holds them together. Used in Ready to Assemble furniture to help with easy assembly.


Embossing Embossing is the process of creating a three-dimensional image or design in paper and other materials.

End Table Small table placed beside a chair or at each end of a sofa, on the end.

Entertainment Center A home entertainment center is a piece of furniture seen in many homes in North America, which houses major electronic items, such as a television, a DVD or Blu Ray player, and stereo components.

Ergonomics Ergonomics is the science of designing the job, equipment, and workplace to fit the worker. Proper ergonomic design is necessary to prevent repetitive strain injuries, which can develop over time and can lead to long-term disability.

Etagere A small, upright, piece of furniture with open shelves for displaying small items.

European hinge This style of hinge is used on mid and upper end product. From the outside of the product, the hinge is not visible and it can be adjusted on a door for a perfect fit.

Extension slides (3/4) A slide that allows a drawer to open about 3/4 of the way. The rear of the drawer is accessible by reaching inside.


FGV Slide A standard drawer glide. Cheaper than ball bearing glides and considered less "heavy duty".

Flared Leg A furniture styled leg where the leg generously moves outward creating a flare. This look is more dramatic than a tapered leg.

Fluted Leg with Feral Foot The leg where the top is vertically grooved (fluted) and then ends in a ball (feral) foot.

Freestanding When furniture is not fixed in any way to a surface; relying solely on the force of gravity to stay in place

Full extension ball bearing slides Metal slides that provide smooth movement for drawers to fully open with heavy weight loads.


Gamer stand A TV stand that holds gaming equipment, consoles, controllers, remotes, Video Games, guitars, pads, etc.

Glass Furniture material used in doors, as desktops and shelves. Glass is very durable and can be used to protect high traffic surfaces from chipping.

Glaze effect Can be added to a surface finish so it takes on a glassy or glass-like appearance.


Handles A part of an object which is held in the hand when used or moved, for pulling open drawers or opening doors usually on furniture.

Hardware: Handle Pulls The decoration added to a furniture piece that serves the function of opening but also looks nice. The handle pull is in the shape of a U generally and hangs down to fit your hand.

Hardware: Knobs Round part of door or drawer handle that you hold with your hand to open it. This can be made of brass, porcelain, steel, glass or other products

Hardware: Ring Pulls Similar to a handle pull however this pull is in the shape of a ring or an O. Typically smaller in size can only fit a finger or two and not a whole hand.

High Boy A type of TV stand that is taller than standard 24' and less wide. Usually used in smaller spaces or in a bedroom where you want to view your TV up higher.

Hollow Core A panel of various thicknesses that have a hollow structure inside. Hollow Core panels can save material and weight, and are often stronger than solid panels. Popular in door contruction and furniture.

Home Office Furniture Furniture designated for an office in a home. Could consist of desks, file cabinets, bookcases, utiltiy carts, and printer stands.

Home Theater System A collection of audio and video equipment designed to closely replicate the commercial movie theater experience in a private home setting.

Hutch An upper cabinet with shelves, with or without doors, placed on a chest, chest of drawers, or desk. It usually is used for storage or displaying items.


induction A magnetic system that powers coils in close proximity

Inlay Inlay is a decorative technique of inserting pieces of contrasting, often colored materials (usually wood), into a prepared slot to form patterns or pictures that normally are flush with the surface.




L Desk A desk in the shape of an L. Could be 2 desks connected with a corner piece or 1 large desk. An L shape fits easily in corners and can help to designate specific areas of a room.

Laptop Cart A small desk on wheels that can hold a laptop or tablet. The cart is mobile for easy transport from room to room.

Laptop Podium A small desk that can hold a laptop or tablet. The podium usually has a thin metal neck with adjustable heights for user comfort.

laptopper Small portable desk that fits in your lap. Ideal for laptops and tablets.


Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) MDF is tiny wood shavings pressurized into dense board. It is heavier than Particle Board and usually more expensive.

Melamine Paper treated with resin that melts and fuses to board during heating application. Generally used in commercial grade furniture becasuse of its high durability to scratches.

Metal Mesh Very light metal mesh provides ventailation and is a great alternative to fabric bins.

Metal Powdercoat finish Most common metal coating and comes in a variety of colors. Dry powder is applied electrostatically to metal and then heat cured to form outer coating.


Nesting tables 2 or 3 tables of varying sizes stored one under the other.

Non-woven fabric Fabric not woven or knitted from thread or yarn, but produced by bonding or interlocking of fibers accomplished by mechanical, chemical, thermal and/or solvent means. Includes fake leather and suede, felt, various interfacings.


Occassional Table Small table that can be used for different purposes and can be moved from room to room.

Ottoman Piece of furniture consisting of a padded, upholstered seat or bench having neither back nor arms, often used as a stool or footstool, or in some cases as an improvised coffee table. Ottomans are often sold as coordinating furniture with armchairs or gliders.


Paints Board finish resistant to water.

Pantry A small room, closet, or cabinet usually located in or near the kitchen, dedicated to food storage and/or storing kitchenware.

Paper Laminate A finish glued and laminated to Particle Board or Medium Density Fiberboard at high temperatures. Paper laminate can come in solid colors or any wood grain. Best used on flat straight surfaces with 90 degree angles.

Parquet Top Parquetry is a geometric mosaic of wood pieces used for decorative effect. The two main uses of parquetry are as veneer patterns on furniture and block patterns for flooring.

Parsons Desk Type of desk styling with 4 straight legs and a straight desktop.

Particle Board (PB) PB is an engineered wood product manufactured from wood chips, shavings, and sawdust binded together with a resin. It is very lightweight and inexpensive.

Pedestal Desk A pedestal desk is usually a large free-standing desk made of a simple rectangular working surface. Can have one or two pedestals under desk surface.

Pin hinges Visible from exterior of product. Allows for easy opening and closing of doors. Most common hinge in RTA industry.

plastic glides Inexpensive slide option, made of plastic, for drawers with light load capacities.

PVC Printed plastic finish applied to MDF using a vacuum system. Can be used in place of paper laminate. Unlike paper laminate, PVC can be applied to curvy edges and rounded furniture parts.


Queen Anne leg Queen Anne furniture are characterized by simple. curvilinear lines, vasiform splats, and cabriole legs. Often feature a horseshoe shape. The most important decorative elements are carved shell and scroll motifs, often found on the crest and knees of the leg.


RTA Abbreviation for 'Ready to Assemble'. RTA furniture is what you buy from a store in a box and build yourself at home with household tools or no tools.

Rule Joint A knuckle joint that connects a table edge to the drop leaf and allows no space to show when the leaf is down.


Select Veneers Only part of the item has veneer. Other parts are most likely laminated to match the veneer.

Side Table A table designed to stand against a wall off to the side.

Sideboard A sideboard is an item of furniture traditionally used in the dining room for serving food, for displaying serving dishes such as silver and for storage.

Single Pedestal Desk A pedestal desk is usually a large free-standing desk made of a simple rectangular working surface. It rests on one pedestal or small cabinet of stacked drawers, and one desk leg.

SmartPanel Trademarked by Altra, a board which is 100% environmentally friendly without losing any of its strength or durability. The board is engineered with reused and recycled materials: 70% post production offal and 30% sawdust.

Sofa Table A table normally used behind a sofa or loveseat that has been positioned away from the wall or thats in the middle of a room.

Soft close hinges This hinge can 'catch' doors when opened and provide resistance for silent closure. These are often found on items with high price points in RTA industry.

Soft close slides This slide can 'catch' drawers when opened and provide resistance for silent closure. These are often found on items with high price points in the RTA industry.

SOHO Abbreviation for 'Small Office Home Office'

Solid Wood Solid wood is a term most commonly used to distinguish between ordinary lumber and engineered wood. Solid wood on a furniture piece means that it is composed of wood with no particle board or wood fiber.

Storage Cubes A cube shaped designed for stroage similar to a box. Doors, drawers and shelves can be added to give hidden storage and to fit different sized items.

Student Desk The term normally applies to a small pedestal type of desk or smaller writing table constructed for use by a child or teenager in their bedroom. In most cases these desks are a bit shorter in height than conventional adult desks and can be made of any material.


Tapered Leg A thick chair or table leg that gradually becomes thinner as it reaches the bottom.

Tempered Glass Glass with a coating that will not allow it to shatter if something were to hit it.

Tooless cam lock This system has cam bolts and locks that are connected by flipping a switch with your thumb and not using any tools.

Trestle Table A long narrow table with two T-shaped uprights that are joined by a single stretcher for added support.

Turned Leg The shape of the bottom of a desk/table leg whichis turned out away from the desk.

Turnip Foot A ball foot with a small collar at the base.



Veneer A thin strip of wood applied on top of MDF for a 'real wood' look. Veneer is a more expensive material than PVC or paper laminate and comes in solid colors and any wood grain.

VOC Volatile Organic Compound- chemicals which emit vapors while evaporating. Used in paints to ensure proper drying. Altra using low-VOC paints whenever possible.


Wardrobe Tall piece of furniture that provides storage space for clothes, as a freestanding closet. It typically has a door(s) and rails or hooks for hanging clothes.

Water based Finish Water resistant paint. More environmentally friendly than oil based finishes.

WIP 'Work In Progress' slots hold papers, letters, bills, that can be organized or separated. WIP slots are usually on desks for storage and organization.

Woven fabric Fabrics composed of two sets of yarns. One set of yarns, the warp, runs along the length of the fabric. The other set of yarns, the fill or weft, is perpendicular to the warp. Woven fabrics are held together by weaving the warp and the fill yarns over and under each other.

Writing Desk A smaller sized desk or table commonly used for personal use such as writing letters or paying bills.