Woodwork Definition & Woodworking Terms

When you shop for cabinet doors or plan a kitchen upgrade, you may encounter woodworking terms you’re not familiar with. And while you don’t need to be a woodworking expert to choose doors or design with wood, it helps to have some basic understanding. That’s where the team at Cabinetdoors.com comes in. We’ve created a list of woodworking terms and definitions we think everyone should know.

Woodworking Terms

Auger - A device used to bore into wood

Biscuit Joint - Two pieces of wood held together with a wooden “biscuit” at the joint.

Cabinetmaker - A master woodworker who specializes in making cabinets or cabinet doors.

Drill Press - A common woodworking tool used to quickly drill holes in a straight line. 

Enamel - The name for a color-finish product that includes large amounts of varnish. 

Face - The part of the cabinet that faces outward, comprising the cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and uncovered parts of the cabinet frame. 

Groove Joint - Two pieces of wood held together by running one through a grove in the other to create a stronger joint. 

Hardwood - Wood harvested from trees known for having dense, durable wood. Examples of hardwood include Cherry, Walnut, Hickory, and Oak. 

Inlay - The process of embedding a smaller piece of wood within a larger piece. 

Joinery - Methods for joining together two pieces of wood, generally without using screws or nails. 

Knot - A distinctive feature of hardwood characterized by a color that’s different from the rest of the wood and tight, spiraling pattern. 

Lumber - The general term for the products of a sawmill. Mills distinguish lumber by the dimensions (2X4, 1x2 etc) and the wood species it came from. 

Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) - One type of composite wood, commonly used in cabinets thanks to its high-strength and durability combined with a low cost. 

Natural Finish - A way to seal and protect wood without drastically altering the natural color or texture of the wood grain. 

Open-Grained - Hardwood with larger pores, exhibited by a rough texture. Open-grained hardwood tends to be easier to stain thanks to superior absorption. 

Panel - One piece of wood surrounded by a frame of wood, as with a cabinet door. Panels can either be raised or inset, and they can be minimal or ornamental depending on tastes. 

Rail - The horizontal parts of a wooden frame. For example, the top and bottom pieces of wood in a cabinet door frame. 

Stile - The vertical parts of a wood frame - eg. the left and right pieces of wood in a cabinet door frame. 

Table Saw - A circular saw set within a flat surface. The table saw is one of the most important tools in all of woodworking.

Varnish - A product used to finish wood that leaves a hard, clear surface once it dries. 

Wood Movement - The term for wood’s natural tendency to expand and contract, especially as the humidity and barometric pressure change.

Woodworking and You

Knowing about the woodworking definition and some of the terms that go along with it gives you more knowledge than the vast majority of the population. However, knowing how to speak the language of woodworking isn’t the same as practicing the art and craft of woodworking. People spend their whole lives exploring the unique properties of wood for the purposes of carpentry, cabinet making, and countless other endeavors. And many will tell you they still have much to learn even after decades of practice. 

We don’t bring this up to discourage you from trying your hand at woodworking. We know better than most what a fascinating and satisfying hobby it can be. But we also know how challenging woodworking can be, even when building something that seems simple like a cabinet door. That’s why even many experienced woodworkers rely on specialized experts to build cabinet doors for them. 

If you would rather leave the serious woodworking to door professionals who can custom-build quality doors in a variety of in-demand styles to whatever dimensions you specify. Thanks to this expert assistance, the doors look great, last for years, and fit onto your existing cabinets perfectly - sparing you the hefty cost of full-cabinet replacement. 

When you’re ready to discover what exceptional cabinet doors look like, spend some time browsing our selection. And if you have questions about the terms above or the products and services we offer at Cabinetdoors.com, please contact us via phone or email.