Glossary of common cabinet door and woodworking terms

Many cabinet door and woodworking terms are unique to the industry and have specific definitions. In this article, we define the common terms.

A magnifying glass laying on a wooden surface surrounded by wooden letters.

We have all come across terms or phrases related to cabinet doors that made us stop in our tracks and ask, ‘Wait… what does that mean?’

Now, if you have worked in the cabinet door industry for 20 years, you might know what every term used in the industry refers to. But honestly, how many of us have worked with cabinet doors that long?

(Not me!)

So, let’s review some frequently used cabinet door and woodworking terms and what those terms mean.

Cabinet door and woodworking terms with definitions

Here are the definitions of some everyday cabinet door and woodworking terms in alphabetical order.

Applied moulding

Decorative mouldings (or applied mouldings) are attached to the surface of cabinet doors to enhance their appearance. Applied mouldings can rest on the center panel, on top of the stiles and rails, or around the outside edges of the cabinet door.

A picture of a Walnut cabinet door with a Maple applied moulding.

Arched top

An elegant cabinet door design where the top edge of the door is curved or arched. Arched-top doors do not work well with a frameless cabinet design.

Arched top rail

Unlike an arched top, an arched top rail has an arch on the interior edge of the top rail. An arched top rail works with a frameless cabinet design.

A Red Oak cabinet door with an arched top rail and a raised panel.

Beaded panel

A cabinet door panel with a decorative bead. Usually, the bead runs with the panel grain. So, on a door with a vertical grain centre panel, the beads would often run vertically.

A Rustic White Oak door with a beaded center panel.


An angled cut, usually with sharp corners. You can use bevels for inside, panel, or outside profiles.

Butt joint

Butt joints are a common and simple woodworking joint. Two pieces of wood are placed flush against each other, end to end, without shaping or cutting the wood. 

Cabinet box

The main structure of a cabinet that the cabinet doors are attached to. Often, cabinet makers use a white melamine product with a particle board core for cabinet boxes to cut down on cost and improve stability.

Cabinet door

The door or doors fastened to the front of a cabinet box. Cabinet door manufacturers often make cabinet doors with wood. However, alternative materials like MDF or melamine are increasing in popularity.

Cabinet door hardware

The knobs, handles, pulls, hinges, and other accessories. Homeowners and designers use hardware for both functionality and decorative accents.

Cathedral arch

An arch resembling the shape of a cathedral window, usually found on the top rails of doors.

Cathedral door

A door featuring a cathedral arched top rail.

Centre panel

As the central part of a cabinet door, two stiles and two rails surround a centre panel.

A cabinet door, taken apart, with all the components labelled.

Chamfer (or champher)

A chamfer is a bevelled edge or corner formed by cutting away the right angle.


A device that holds wood pieces together firmly while the glue dries or someone works on them.

Concealed hinge

A hinge that is hidden from view when the cabinet door is closed. Concealed hinges provide a clean and seamless look.

Continuous hinge

A hinge that extends the full length of the door, providing continuous support and distribution of weight. You often see continuous hinges on heavy interior doors, like fire doors; they are overkill for most cabinet doors. Having said that, sometimes continuous hinges are used for Lazy Susan doors.

Cope and stick cabinet doors

Doors that are assembled with a cope and stick joint.

Cope and stick joint

Cabinet makers use cope and stick joints in cabinet door construction to join stiles and rails. First, they cut a cope on the rail to match the contours of the stile. Then, they insert the profiled edge of a stile into the cope. This method creates a strong and precise joint.

Door bumper

Door bumpers are small cushions or pads attached to the inside of the cabinet frame to dampen the impact when the door closes.

Door handle

A door handle is attached to the surface of a cabinet door and used for opening and closing. Three common types of door handles are door knobs, lever handles, and pull handles.

Dovetail joint

A strong joint where interlocking wedge-shaped projections fit into corresponding slots. You often see dovetail joints in drawer box construction.

Dovetail drawer box

When you assemble a drawer box using dovetail joints, the drawer box is a dovetail drawer box. You may see dovetail drawer boxes in high-quality kitchen cabinetry, desks, and dressers.

A dovetail drawer box.


Dowels are cylindrical pieces of wood used for joining two pieces or strengthening a joint.

Dowel Joint

To make a dowel joint, fit a dowel into corresponding holes in two pieces of wood.

Drawer box

A drawer box is an open box fastened to and hidden behind a drawer front. You often see drawer boxes in kitchen cabinetry, desks and dressers.

Drawer front

Essentially, a drawer front is a cabinet door that is attached to a drawer box. Drawer fronts can match your cabinet doors exactly or be a complementary style.

Drawer pull

A drawer pull is a handle or knob attached to the front of a drawer and used for opening and closing.

Edge banding (or edging)

Edge banding is a thin strip of wood, veneer, or vinyl applied to the edges of a cabinet door to cover exposed plywood or MDF and provide a finished look.

European hinge

A type of hinge commonly used on frameless cabinets. European hinges feature a cup that mounts directly to the cabinet door.

Finger pull

A finger pull is a recessed area or groove on the edge of a cabinet door that lets you open the door without needing handles or door knobs. Finger pulls are popular because they are not visible from the front of the door, providing a clean and modern appearance.

Face frame cabinet

A cabinet construction method where a frame is attached to the front of the cabinet box, providing structure and support for the doors and drawers.

Flat panel

A flat panel door has a (can you guess?) flat centre panel. You can use the terms flat panel and plywood panel interchangeably. However, some solid wood panels are technically flat panels because the front of the panel is flat.

Floating panel

A floating panel is not glued or nailed to the frame of the cabinet door, allowing it to expand and contract with changes in humidity without warping the door. At Cutting Edge, most of our centre panels are floating panels. We insert rubber spacers around the edge of the panel to prevent the panels from moving or rattling.

Flush hinge

A type of hinge that mounts to the surface of a cabinet door and frame, allowing the door to swing open without any overlay. You can only use flush hinges on flush surfaces.


A door construction method with a solid wood frame surrounding a panel. A frame-and-panel construction allows for the expansion and contraction of the wood. You can also refer to frame-and-panel construction as stile-and-rail, mortise-and-tenon, or cope-and-stick construction.

Framed panel

A panel within a cabinet door surrounded by a solid wood frame. Framed panels are a stable and traditional option.

Frameless cabinet

A type of cabinet construction where the cabinet box has no face frame, allowing for full access to the interior space.

Full overlay

Full overlay kitchens are popular because of their seamless appearance. In a full overlay kitchen, the cabinet door completely covers the cabinet face frame.

Glass panel door (also known as a glass door or open frame)

A door that, instead of a centre panel, has glass inserted from the back of the door. Often, you see glass panel doors on display cabinets.

HDF (high-density fibreboard)

HDF stands for high-density fibreboard. MDF manufacturers compress wood fibres and add a (typically) formaldehyde-based resin. HDF is more dense than MDF and reacts better to machining and finishing. Manufacturers that work with HDF consider it higher quality than MDF. However, HDF is also more expensive and difficult to source reliably.

Inset door

Typically considered an old-fashioned option, an inset cabinet door fits flush with the front face of the cabinet box. Often, you see inset doors paired with face-frame cabinets.

Inset hinge

Inset hinges are used for inset doors. They get installed inside the cabinet door and frame. Inset hinges allow an inset door to open fully without interference.

Inside profile

An inside profile is a decorative shape cut into the inside of stiles and rails.

A cross-section of a cabinet door with an arrow pointing to the inside profile.


A liquid you can apply to the surface of cabinet doors. Lacquer dries to form a hard, protective surface.

Louvered door

A louvred door is a cabinet door with horizontal slats that allow for airflow while maintaining privacy; you may use louvred doors for closet doors or for a cabinet that requires air movement. 

A cabinet door with a louvred centre panel.

MDF (medium-density fibreboard)

MDF stands for medium-density fibreboard. It is made with compressed wood fibres and a (typically) formaldehyde-based resin. MDF is less dense, less expensive, and easier to source than HDF.

Mitre joint

You often see mitre joints in picture frames or highly detailed profiles. To make a mitre joint, cut two pieces of wood at a 45-degree angle and join them together to form a corner.

Mitred cabinet door

A cabinet door that has mitred joints. Mitred cabinet doors are typically much more detailed than cope and stick or tenon and mortise cabinet doors.


A mortise is a slot or rectangular hole cut into a piece of wood to receive a tenon.

Mortise and tenon cabinet doors

Cabinet doors that are assembled with a mortise and tenon joint.

Mullions (or muntins)

A decorative strip that divides pieces of glass. In cabinetry, mullions are typically made with wood.

Mullion door (or mullion frame)

A cabinet door with multiple openings for glass separated by mullions. Typically, mullion frames only require one piece of glass.

A mullion frame with 9 openings for glass.

Outside profile

A decorative shape cut around the edges of a cabinet door.

A cross-section of a cabinet door with an arrow pointing to the outside profile.


The amount by which a cabinet door covers the front edges of the cabinet box.


The panel forms the central part of a cabinet door. Panels fit within the frame created by the rails and stiles.

Panel profile

A panel profile is a decorative shape cut into the edges of a raised panel. Most panel profiles require a solid wood panel; otherwise, the detailed profile cuts through the veneer and exposes a lower-grade core.

Partial overlay

A cabinet door style where the door covers only part of the cabinet face frame, leaving a portion of the cabinet box frame visible.

Particle board

A material made from compressed wood chips and resin. You often see particle board material forming the core for veneer slabs.


Plywood is a thin piece of material, usually about 1/4″ thick, with either an MDF or particle board core. Often, cabinet makers use plywood panels for shaker style or flat panel cabinet doors to reduce cost and improve stability.


A decorative shape cut into the edges of a cabinet door, such as a bevel, ogee, or cove; profiles add visual interest and dimension. Cabinet doors may have an inside profile, an outside profile, and a panel profile.


A groove cut along the edge of a piece of wood. Often, rabbets are cut into the back of glass doors or frame doors to allow you to insert a piece of glass from the back of the door.


Rails are horizontal pieces of wood in a cabinet door frame that provide structural support.

Raised panel

A cabinet door design where the center panel is raised, usually making the top of the centre panel flush with the top of the stiles and rails. Most cabinet door manufacturers make raised panels with solid wood; however, some cabinet manufacturers shape a particle board or MDF core and then apply a veneer coating. Raised panels can be much more decorative than flat or plywood panels.

A cabinet door with a raised panel.

Recessed panel

A cabinet door design where the center panel is set back from the frame. You can use the term recessed panel interchangeably with the term flat panel.


The gap between the edge of a cabinet door and the cabinet frame; often, the reveal is for aesthetic purposes.

Rubber spacers

Also known as door spacers, rubber spacers are small rubber balls that cabinet makers insert into the panel groove before assembling the cabinet door. These spacers allow the centre panel to expand and contract without damaging the door frame while still holding the centre panel in place.

Sanding block

A block of wood or other material covered with abrasive paper. In cabinetry, we use sanding blocks to make it easier to smooth rough edges or surfaces.


An abrasive paper, used for smoothing rough edges or surfaces. Sandpaper comes in different grits or levels of abrasiveness. 

Self-closing hinge

A hinge with a mechanism that automatically pulls the cabinet door closed once you push it shut to a certain point.

Shaker style

Cabinet door designs with a flat center panel and square edges. Shaker style cabinet doors are often associated with simplicity and functionality.

A shaker style cabinet door.

Slab door

A slab door is a very simple cabinet door; it does not have a raised or recessed panel or a frame. You can order slab doors in solid wood or veneer. If you choose veneer slab doors, they typically have matching wood edge tape around the edges of the doors to hide the veneer core, which is usually particle board or MDF.

Soft close

You can add a soft close mechanism to your cabinet door hinges or order soft close hinges. Either option helps prevent the cabinet door from slamming shut, offering a quiet and controlled closing action.


A stain is a coloured liquid that you can apply to wooden surfaces to enhance or alter their natural colour.


Stiles are vertical pieces of wood in a cabinet door frame. Stiles provide structural support when combined with rails.

Stile and rail construction

A method of constructing cabinet doors where the cabinet maker joins horizontal (rails) and vertical (stiles) pieces together to create a frame.


Refers to the overall appearance of a cabinet door; e.g. a shaker-style cabinet door is a very simple cabinet door.


A projecting piece of wood made for insertion into a mortise to make a joint.

Tongue and groove

Tongue and groove is a woodworking joint where a protruding “tongue” on one piece fits into a slot or “groove” on another piece.

V-groove panel

A cabinet door panel featuring a V-shaped groove cut into the surface, adding visual interest.


A thin layer of wood glued to a base of inferior material (typically particle board or MDF). Cabinet makers often use veneers to reduce costs and improve stability.

Wood grain

The direction of the pattern on a cut surface of wood. Vertical grain means the wood pattern runs vertically across the wood while horizontal grain means the wood pattern runs horizontally across the wood.

Wood putty (or wood filler)

A substance used to fill imperfections, such as nail holes or cracks, in wood before finishing.

Final thoughts

When it comes to cabinet doors, woodworking, and cabinetry, there are so many terms used interchangeably or unique to the woodworking industry that it can be difficult to be sure what a term refers to.

Now that you have learned the definitions for some of these common terms from Cutting Edge Doors & Woodworking, you might want to learn more about cabinet doors and woodworking. If so, head over to the experts at Cutting Edge Doors & Woodworking!

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