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Understand Basic Cabinetry Terminology before You Remodel


The world of kitchens can sometimes be very confusing.  It can be even worse if you’re just starting your first remodel. To make your life a bit easier, we’ve made a shortlist of some basic common terms in the kitchen cabinetry world. After reading about these, you’ll feel like a pro while buying your new cabinets.


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½” or Traditional overlay

→ Door styles that cover ½” of the face frame at the top and bottom, leaving 1¼” of the face frame exposed. Nelson Cabinetry, for instance, offers traditional overlay cabinets.

4-Way Adjustable Barrel Hinge/6 -Way Adjustable Concealed Hinge

→ A barrel hinge is a sectional barrel secured by a pivot. It’s a component of a hinge, that has a hollow cylinder-shaped section where the rotational bearing force is applied to the pivot.


→ The six-way adjustability allows you to move the door up and down, left to right, or in and out. This hinge is standard in cabinets from Nelson Cabinetry.


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→ Accessible cabinets that are designed to assist in independent living for people with special needs. Accessible base cabinets are 32 ½” high and have an 8 ½” x 6″ toe kick that allows for wheelchair access.

Adjustable shelves

→ Moveable shelves that can be placed in a wide range of layouts using shelf pins inserted into pre-drilled holes.

Angled corner

→ Any cabinet type designed to fit on an end of an upper or lower cabinet creating a fixed angle.

Base cabinet

→ Any cabinet type designed to install directly on the floor. You can apply some form of a top in the field, such as laminate, wood, or granite. Take a look at our collection of Shaker base cabinets.

Blind base corner cabinet

→ Any cabinet type, upper or lower, designed to be installed into the corner of a room. Additionally, another cabinet can be installed directly adjacent to it, hiding the blind portion. Above all, this gives access to an otherwise dead corner, providing more storage.


→ A technique where the profile edges have been brushed with a dark glaze to create an antiqued effect.

Center stile

→ A vertical strip of hardwood that’s a component of the face frame. The center stile also referred to as a mullion usually divides a cabinet opening equally.


→ Cherry wood is associated with luxury. It is a close-grained wood with a fairly uniform texture which will occasionally have tiny pin knots, pitch pockets, and very small, dark streaks of gum.

Concealed hinge

→ Door hinges are attached to the back of the door and to the inside edge of the face frame. they are not visible from the outside of the cabinet.

Concealed Two-Way

→ A concealed two-way hinge is not seen when the cabinet door is closed. It provides a side adjustment that regulates the gaps between the cabinet door and cabinet frame to ensure perfect parallel alignment.

Crown molding

→ Decorative molding is applied to the top of the upper wall cabinet to provide a finished or decorative look.

Dentil molding

→ A term used to describe a decorative tooth-like pattern on any trim molding.

Drawer front

→ The finished front panel of a drawer.

End panel

→ The outside vertical cabinet member that supports the horizontal parts. Often referred to as cabinet side panels, sides, or ends.

Face frame

→ The supporting wood frame is attached to the front of the cabinet box gives it structural rigidity and provide mounting support for doors and drawers.


→ Fillers are used between kitchen cabinets or near a wall at the end of the cabinets to cover gaps or as decorative accents. Nelson Cabinetry’s base filler is designed to be installed between base cabinets and gives your kitchen a simple and elegant look.

Fixed shelves

→ Shelves that are built into the kitchen cabinet, and that can’t be moved. They provide added stability to the cabinet.


→ Recessed center panel to a door or drawer design.

Framed construction

→ Cabinet box that has a face frame and resembles a flat, empty picture frame attached to the front. Doors are secured to this frame, and the frame adds additional strength and rigidity to the overall cabinet. All of the cabinets from Nelson’s Cabinetry are framed, and they give your kitchen a versatile, traditional look.

Frameless construction

→ A cabinet box without a face frame. The full overlay doors attach directly to the inside of the cabinet box. This allows for full access to items and the space inside the cabinet. Frameless construction provides more room for accessibility and storage and gives a contemporary look.

Full access drawer guide

→ Also referred to as drawer slides, these are cabinet drawer glides that allow the drawer to be extended to the back of the drawer.

Full extension drawer guide

→ Cabinet drawer glides that allow for the drawer to extend completely outside the cabinet to give access to the entire depth of the drawer box.

Full overlay

→ Door styles that allow approximately 3/16” of face frame exposed around the sides, tops, and bottoms of the doors. Wall cabinets have 7/16” exposure at the tops and bottoms of the doors. Full overlay cabinets are the only doors that can be used in frameless cabinets.


→ An accent stain was applied over the entire cabinet door. It adds depth and dimension that highlights door detail, wood color, and the base finish color.


→ The dense, close-grained wood of a tree, such as oak, cherry, and maple.


→ Jointed devices that are used to attach a cabinet door to the cabinet. They are attached to the face frame of a framed cabinet or the cabinet side of a frameless cabinet. The hinge allows the door to swing open or closed.


→ A framed cabinet with door and drawer fronts set “inside” the frame itself. The frame is not covered by any portion of the door and/or drawer. The finished design achieves high quality, “customized” look.


→ A close-grained hardwood that is predominantly white to creamy white in color, with occasional reddish-brown tones. Maple is a very popular choice for home cabinetry, office cabinetry, and flooring.

Medium-Density fiberboard

→ A composite wood panel made by reprocessing wood fibers to produce a flat stable panel that can be used in laminating or finishing.


→ A strip of material with a profile cut on the facing edges, used for trimming.

Overlay doors/drawers

→ Doors and drawer fronts that overlap the face frame when closed — either partially or fully. This is the most common style in the U.S.


→ Similar in design to an island except open on only three sides. Often used in “L” shaped kitchens as serving bars that separate the kitchen from the dining or family room.


→ A construction material made of thin layers of wood glued and pressed together. Nelson Cabinetry offers grade “A” plywood cabinet boxes for their superior quality.

Pulls, Knobs, and Handles

→ Pieces of hardware attached to a kitchen cabinet door or drawer front used for opening and closing and to enhance the appearance of a cabinet run.

Raised Panel

→ A term used to describe a door style where a thick center panel is machined to be flush with the door frame, thus giving the appearance of depth with the sloping “raise” of the panel.

Recessed Panel

→ A term used to describe a door style where a thinner panel is inserted into the grooves of the wood door frame, so it gives a “recessed” appearance, i.e. a flat panel.


→ A finish applied to natural wood cabinets to enhance color and add protection.


→ The vertical pieces of frames on the left and right of the door; the horizontal pieces, in contrast, are the rails.

→ Stiles and rails form the frame and hold the frame and panel together.


→ A tough, and scratch-resistant rigid vinyl that is thermally formed and sealed to MDF. It helps to provide a strong, durable surface, resistant to most household wear.

Toe kick

→ A toe kick is a term used to describe the recessed cut-out area at the bottom of base, tall, and vanity cabinets.



Wood species

→ Different types of hardwoods or softwoods. Examples are maple, oak, cherry, and hickory.



Now that you’ve mastered these elements of cabinet terminology, it’s time to start planning your cabinet design. Nelson Cabinetry offers you a free 3D design for your dream kitchen. With your new know-how and the design features at your tips kitchen remodeling is easier than ever before. 



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Nelson Cabinetry

Nelson Cabinetry is an online distributor of high quality kitchen and bathroom cabinetry. We pride ourselves in delivering a high quality product via an easy to use, convenient website. Placing your cabinet order has never been easier and you can do so from the comfort of your home, office or job site.


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