Guide: Kitchen Cabinetry Terms

Yay! The decision to remodel your kitchen has been made and it’s a go! First, think about designing your kitchen space. Then move on to choosing cabinets and appliances. Here’s a guide to kitchen cabinetry terms to help you when looking for your new cabinets.


Guide to Kitchen Cabinetry

Box construction – This is construction of the cabinet including the top, bottom, back, sides, and shelves. Plywood is a top material choice.

Wood species – Oak, maple, cherry, and birch are popular woods for cabinets.

Finish – Choose the color of your cabinets with either a stain, solid color, or a glaze finish.

Guide to Kitchen Cabinetry

An example of cabinet box construction and dovetail drawer.


Full overlay – A cabinet door covering a cabinet’s entire face frame. Only a small portion of the cabinet’s storage area can be seen.

Reveal – Part of the cabinet frame which is seen or a slight space between the doors.

Dovetail – A strong carpentry joint used to complete a drawer.

Rabbet joint – A cut made into the wood to join the drawer sides and drawer face.

Undermount or side-mount glides – Glides are for opening and closing a drawer. Undermount glides are the popular choice for their smooth and sturdy function.

Soft close hinges – These prevent a cabinet door from slamming shut.

Toe kick – A recessed area of a base cabinet near the floor.

Soffit – In a kitchen, the space between the top of your wall cabinets and the ceiling.


Door construction:

Mortise and tenon – In woodworking, a type of joint used to connect two pieces of wood.

Mitered – A mitered door frame consists of four pieces joined at 45° angles plus a center panel.

Slab – A flat door with no frame or panel. Popular in modern cabinetry styles.

Kitchen door styles

Eastman St. Woodworks: Examples of different door styles

Wall door style:

Applied molding – Cabinet doors featuring decorative moulding detail.

Veneer – A very thin layer of wood applied over wood panels or other material.

Recessed panel – A cabinet door with a center panel which is slightly below the surrounding wood.

Raised panel – A cabinet door with a center panel that is slightly higher than the wood around it.

Slab – A flat style door; no frame or panel. Many contemporary or modern styles use slab style doors.

Shaker – A style using a recessed panel door. Simple, clean design.

V-groove – It’s just as it sounds: thin V-shaped lines (similar to a beveled edge) add a decorative touch to a cabinet door.