Terminology Glossary & Deffinations


Abrasion Resistance

Ability of a coating to resist degradation caused by mechanical wear (mechanical erosion) due to its ability to dissipate the applied mechanical energy. Abrasion resistance can be enhanced by incorporation of surface modifying additives or wax. Abrasion resistance is not necessarily related to hardness as believed by some, but is more clearly comparable with toughness.


A Classical fleshy leaf decoration of the acanthus mollis, used for example on capitals of the Corinthian order.


A substance used in small proportions to increase the speed of a chemical reaction. Accelerators are used to hasten the curing of a coating system. Also known as catalyst.


The finials or pedestals flanking a pediment and at its apex. Used for statues, urns etc. and sometimes for Regency bracket feet.


A family of synthetic resins made from acrylic acids.

Acrylic Latex (paint)

Water-reducible paint made with a binder that has acrylic as some portion of the composition. Other modifiers of the binder that may be added to reduce cost or add specific properties include styrene, epoxy, and polyvinyl acetate (PVA).

Acrylic Resin

A clear resin made by the polymerization of acrylic monomers such as acrylates Methyl, Ethyl, Butyl or acrylic acid.


The curing agent of a two component compound coating system. Sometimes referred to as a hardener.


The degree of attachment between a film forming finish and the underlying material to which it is in contact without blistering, flaking, cracking or being removed by tape. The two surfaces are held together by interfacial forces which may consist of valence forces and/or interlocking/mechanical action.

Mechanical Adhesion - An interlocking of two materials because of shape, texture, etc. causing the two materials to remain affixed one to the other. Also known as tooth.

Chemical adhesion - A chemical reaction of two materials that bonds the two together.


Refers to the process of one material attracting and holding molecules of another substance to the surface of its molecules.

Air-assist airless

An airless spray system operating at high fluid pressure, typically 300-400 PSI, that uses a small amount of air to help shape the spray fan and eliminate the spray tails at the top and bottom of the spray fan pattern. Used most often in production spraying settings where speed and quality are needed. Typically reduces over spray and reduces material use 40-60% compared to conventional spray systems.

Air Cap - Air Nozzle

Perforated housing for directing the atomizing air at the head of an air spray gun. Atomizes the coating and shapes the fan.


Air Drying

A common form of curing a coating in which drying takes place by oxidation or solvent evaporation by simple exposure to air without heat or catalyst.

Air Entrapment

A defect caused by the inclusion of air bubbles in liquid coating film. Often caused by applying the finish to thick, to heavily or excessive stirring and or air pressure in a pressurized paint pot. Can be one of the causes for pinholing of a coating.

Airless Spray

A spraying system in which the coating is atomized using high hydraulic (fluid) pressure rather than compressed air.


A group of solvents of relatively high evaporation rate but with fairly low solvent strength. Commonly used as a solvent in shellac, NGR stains, dyes, inks, and lacquer. Alcohols include Methanol, Ethanol, Isopropanol, n-Butanol, Isooctanol, Methyl Isobutyl Carbinol, Isoamyl Alcohol, Isobutyl Alcohol, Cyclohexanol, and Methyl Cyclohexanol.

Methanol is highly toxic both in skin contact (as it can be readily absorbed) as well as by inhalation. Methanol, once in your system, can metabolize to formaldehyde then to formic acid. Methyl alcohol is also known as methanol, methyl hydrate, or wood alcohol. It is added to many Ethanol (Grain Alcohol) blended products rendering them poisonous for human consumption.

Aliphatic Hydrocarbons

A class of organic solvents which are composed of open chains of carbon atoms. Aliphatics are relatively weak solvents. Mineral spirits, paint thinner, VM&P naphtha, petroleum naptha, petroleum distillate, cyclohexane, octane, pentane, nonane, kerosine, gasoline, and heptane, propane, butane, hexane are all aliphatic hydrocarbons.



A liquid containing water which has a pH value of between 8 and 14. Generally a caustic material.

Alkyd Resin

A family of synthetic resins formed by the condensation of polyhydric alcohols with polybasic acids. May be regarded as complex polyester (thermoset).


The splitting of a film of paint in a pattern resembling an alligator skin, caused by shrinkage of a coat of paint applied over a semiplastic or thermoplastic undercoat; also called crocodiling. It is caused by the application of a hard drying paint over a relatively soft paint or by the application of thick films, in which case the underlying surface remains relatively soft. It is also caused by the application of paint over unseasoned wood. As the name implies, an alligatored surface is one that resembles the hide of an alligator in that it is cracked into large segments. As the surface of the thick film dries it tends to shrink. The soft undried, bottom layers of the thick film allow the surface film to shrink thereby causing the alligatoring.

Ambient Temperature

Room temperature or the existing temperature of the surroundings.


The heat treating (softening) of metal after it has been work-hardened with steel tools, and is necessary between raising and forging stages. Annealing is also used to remove tension in a piece of metal before brazing, helping to reduce warpage.

Aniline Dye

Synthetic transparent colors which dissolve in the solvent for which they are formulated (i.e., water, alcohol, or oil). Some dyes are reducible in multiple solvents.


A narrow flat band or collar encircling a Gothic column.

Anti-blocking agent

Additive used to prevent the undesirable adhesion between touching layers of coated material, such as occurs under moderate pressure and heat during storage, manufacture or use. Antiblocking agents are usually waxes or synthetic polymers; a light dusting of talcum powder is sometimes used for the same purpose.


A Classical styled honeysuckle ornament, the petals curving inwards (palmette).



An antique (Latin antiquus; old) is an old collectible item. It is collected or desirable because of its age, rarity, condition, utility, or other unique features. It is an object that represents a previous era in human society. Antiques are usually objects which show some degree of craftsmanship, or a certain attention to design such as a desk or the early automobile.

In the United States, the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act defined an antique as "works of art (except rugs and carpets made after the year 1700), collections in illustration of the progress of the arts, works in bronze, marble, terra cotta, parian, pottery or porcelain, artistic antiquities and objects of ornamental character or educational value which shall have been produced prior to the year 1830. 1830 was roughly the beginning of mass production in the U.S.

These definitions allow people to make a distinction between genuine antique pieces, vintage items, and collectible objects. The alternative term antiquities commonly refers to the remains of ancient art and everyday items from antiquity, which themselves are often archaeological artifacts.


"Antiquing" is the act of shopping, identifying, negotiating, or bargaining for antiques. Items can be bought for personal use, gifts, and in the case of brokers and dealers, profit. Antiquing is performed at garage sales, estate sales, resort towns, antiques districts, collectives, and international auction houses.

In finishing the word "antiquing" refer to the art of making an object appear old or antique through distressing or applying an antique looking paint application accomplished with glazing techniques and or faux finishing techniques.

Antique Furniture

The collecting of antique furniture is a particularly popular area of antiques due to the practical characteristics of these items. Antique furniture includes dining tables, chairs, bureaus, chests etc. The most common woods are mahogany, oak, pine, cherry, walnut and rosewood. In Chinese antique furniture the most common wood is elm a wood common to most regions able to sustain trees. Every type of wood has its own distinctive grain and color. Many modern pieces of furniture often use laminate and wood veneer to inexpensively achieve the same effect. There are a number of different styles of antique furniture depending on when and where it was made. Some of the most common include Queen Ann, Georgian, Shaker, Early American, Windsor, Chippendale, Hepplewhite, Sheraton, Art Nouveau, East Lake, Empire and Victorian.



Any process by which a material is transferred to a surface. Techniques include padding, wiping, brushing, spraying, rolling, pouring and dipping.


A shaped and often decorated length of wood applied beneath the bottom framing of a drawer, table top, chair seat etc.


A decoration of flowers, fruit, trophies and figures in symmetrical foliate scrolls or strapwork, derived from the Middle East. When human figures are incorporated properly known as Grotesque work.

Aromatic Hydrocarbons

Aromatic Hydrocarbons derive their name from the "pleasant" odor attributed to many of these substances. The aromatic solvents are produced from the distillation of petroleum or coal tar. A class of relatively strong organic solvents which contain an unsaturated ring of carbon atoms. Not all molecules with ring or loop structures are aromatic. Examples are Toluene, Toluol, Xylene Xylol, Phenol, Benzene, Styrene, Diethylbenzene, Methylnaphthalene and Ethylbenzene.

Art Deco

Circa 1925 to 1940 - Clean geometric designs, colors and the uses of new materials characterized the Art Deco period in architecture and decorative items.

Art Nouveau

Circa 1890 to 1914 - Art Nouveau was a concerted attempt to create an international style based on decoration. It was developed by a brilliant and energetic generation of artists and designers, who sought to fashion an art form appropriate to the modern age.


Asphaltum (Asphalt)

Black or brown petroleum-like material that has a consistency varying from viscous liquid to glassy solid. It is obtained either as a residue from the distillation of petroleum or from natural deposits. Asphalt consists of compounds of hydrogen and carbon with minor proportions of nitrogen, sulfur, and oxygen. Asphaltum is used in the manufacture of paints, varnishes, stains and glazes, giving an intensely black/brown color.


A narrow moulding of semi-circular form, sometimes carved, used particularly for glazing bars and the closing edges of doors.


Formation of tiny droplets of liquid as in the spraying process. A process whereby a bulk liquid is transformed into a multiplicity of small drops. This transformation, often called primary atomization, proceeds through the formation of disturbances on the surface of the bulk liquid, followed by their amplification due to energy and momentum transfer from the surrounding air. A poorly atomized spray pattern will consist of larger droplets that may not flow out to form a smooth and even coating.


Term attributed to works or artists that are unconventional, unusual or sometimes unconventional.



Bail Handle

An iron or brass loop handle suspended from a pommel at either end.


Originally a trademarked name of the Bakelite Corporation formed in 1922. Bakelite was the first plastic made from synthetic components.

Ball and Claw

A common carved decoration of the feet of cabriole legged furniture from the early 18th century, inspired by the Oriental Pearl of Wisdom gripped in a dragon's or eagle's talons.


A turned column in a balustrade or the stem of a table, shaped to swell out in the lower half. Known as an Inverted baluster when the swelling is in the upper half.


An ornamental inlay, generally in contrasting wood, laid cross-grain or diagonally, or in other materials such as ivory or brass. Herringbone banding of mitered form was used on walnut from the early 18th century.


An architectural and decorative style originating in Italy and spreading through Europe in the 17th century; characterized by its exuberant grandeur and bold curvaceous forms, sometimes tending towards heaviness and pomposity.

Barrier Coat

A coating used to isolate a dye, stain, glaze, or topcoat either from the surface to which it is applied or a previous coating for the purpose of increasing adhesion, insuring compatibility, or isolating contamination. Also known as a tie or binder coat.

Base Color

The first color coat applied during many types of faux finishing techniques.


See Astragal Also used of moulding of small repeated roundels (i.e. beads). properly called Pearling. Bearer A horizontal member used constructionally to support another part, e.g. the leaves of a dining table.

Bevel or Beveled

Cut at an angle and can be used to describe glass, book pages and wood on furniture.



The nonvolatile portion of the vehicle of a coating which holds together the pigment particles and attaches them to the substrate.


Device on four columns used to mount a table top on to a tripod base, allowing circular movement.


Pottery - unglazed porcelain or china, sometimes called biscuit ware. Items have only had one firing in the kiln.


The fading of a color toward white generally caused by exposure to chemicals or ultraviolet radiation.

The use of one of the three wood bleaches to remove natural color, dyes, or water stains from wood.


The diffusion of color matter through a coating from underlying surfaces causing color change. Caused by a common solvency of the topcoat and the dye. Applying a sealers or barrier coat will prevent this.



The formation of blisters in coating films by the loss of adhesion and lifting of the film from the underlying substrate. Can be caused by rapid hot air drying or a wet finish in direct sun light, "sun drying" of a coating surface causing the "off gassing" of the solvents to be trapped producing large blisters.


Boiled linseed oil. One of the drying oils used to make conversion coatings like varnish.

Block Foot

A cube-shaped foot, generally used with a square untapered leg.


A coating's tendency to adhere to itself on another freshly coated surface or to other substrates. Causes windows to bind, doors to stick and damage to finished surfaces when they are contacted before the coating fully cures.

Block Resistance

The ability of a coating to resist sticking to itself when used on two surfaces that come into contact with each other or other surfaces.


Unlike blushing, bloom forms after the coating has dried or cured. Presenting as a haze in the film (may be iridescent or bluish like an oil slick) of coating surfaces, it's caused by the exudation of a component of the coating such as oil plasticizer, uncured oil stain, or noncrosslinked coating constituent when the coated part is exposed to a cycle of heat, humidity, and cooling. Also caused when an acid cured coating (e.g., conversion varnish) is applied over a sealer that contains zinc stearate; the acid and zinc have a chemical reaction as the coating cures (may occur months after application).


Blotches are random areas on the surface of the wood that have adsorbed more of the dye, stain, or finish compared to other areas. The sharp contrast between dark and lighter areas on the wood surface is usually considered unattractive.


A film defect which manifests itself as a milky appearance which is generally caused by rapid solvent evaporation or the presence of excessive moisture during the curing process. Blushing can be prevented by slowing down the drying/evaporation rate of the solvents in the coating by adding a retarder.

Blush Retarder

A thinner/reducer with slower drying properties.



Repeated bell-turning, much used on 17th century legs and stretchers. Bole Clay of varying color according to period, which was mixed with glue size and applied over gesso to prepare a ground for gilding.

Boiling Point

This is an indicator of how readily the chemical becomes a gas (vaporizes). The lower the boiling point, the more readily it vaporizes. It should be noted that the boiling point for mixtures may be different from those of the components.

Bolection Moulding

A bold convex moulding, often used to cover a joint between two surfaces.


The vertical swelling shape of concave and convex curves found on the front or sides of commodes or other cabinet furniture of the Rococo period.


The adhesion of, or ability of, two items to stick to one another.


The attachment between a coating film and the underling material to which it is applied.


An ornament, generally carved and often circular, applied over joints or decoratively at the top at the top of legs etc.


Foliate and figural marquetry of turtle or tortoise shell and brass (and sometimes pewter, mother-of-pearl and ivory) made fashionable in France by Andrè-Charles Boulle (1642-1732). The term Première-partie is used when the ground is brass, and Contra-partie when it is turtle-shell.

Bounce Back

Also known as Blow Back. The rebound of atomized coating, especially when applied by conventional air spray methods. The air pressure used to atomize the coating bounces off the surface being sprayed keeping the material from attaching to the surface and it's lost as overspray. A common occurrence in conventional compressed air driven spray equipment.



The shaping of the front of a cabinet or chest of slightly convex or segmental shape often called 'sweep-front' in the 18th century.

Box Coat

Spraying the first pass in one direction and the second at a right angle to the first providing more even film distribution.

Bracket Foot

A flat two-piece symmetrical foot, set at a corner and shaped like a bracket on the outer edges.


A joining process whereby a filler metal or alloy is heated to melting temperature above 800°F and distributed between two or more close-fitting parts by capillary action. At its liquid temperature, the molten filler metal and flux interacts with a thin layer of the base metal, cooling to form a strong, sealed joint. By definition the melting temperature of the braze alloy is lower (sometimes substantially) than the melting temperature of the materials being joined. The brazed joint becomes a sandwich of different layers, each metallurgically linked to the adjacent layers.

When brazing sterling, care must be used to prevent firescale or firestain which is formed at higher temperatures than soldering.


The front of a cabinet or chest etc. whose ends are recessed. A recessed center is known as a Reverse breakfront. The term Wing bookcase is also used.


A finish defect that forms when a finish dries (shrinks) and pulls away from an inside corner or other void. Appears as an air bubble where the finish has bridged the gap rather than conform to it. Generally attributed to poor surface preparation causing adhesion problems.



A form of engraving which uses polished gravers to produce very reflective cuts.


The lack of resistance to cracking or breaking of a coating film when bent or flexed.


A coloration (often green) observed on a dyed surface that contrasts with the actual color of the dye. It's caused by a concentration of dye crystals left on the surface of the wood after the carrier evaporated. To fix the problem, wipe the surface with a rag wetted with the proper solvent or simply topcoat with a solvent-based coating.


The ease of applying a coating by brush.

Brush marks

Ridges left after application of the coating by a brush due to poor flow, leveling or substrate wetting. Choosing the proper brush, using good technique, and thinning the coating as needed all work to reduce or eliminate brush marks.



A temporary or permanent film defect in which bubbles of air or solvent vapor are present in the applied film. See air entrapment.


The wet or dry film thickness of a coating. See high build.


High and low spots in a coating surface caused by unwanted flowing that occurs during curing. Caused by surface tension gradients that arise during curing.

Bun Foot

A 17th century type of depressed ball shape, attached with a dowel.


Method of filling a defect in finished wood with a hot knife and a burn-in (colored resin) stick or shellac stick.

Also, the ability of a new top coat of finish to bind with previous coat by partially dissolve the surface and obtaining a chemical bond creating a continuous film instead of multiple layers of coatings.


The formation of shiny area on a finished surface as a result of rubbing.

Butt Joint

A simple glue joint between two surfaces.

Butyl Cellosolve

A registered, trademark name for ethylene glycol monobutyl ether. A slow evaporating, water miscible, relatively strong solvent. Commonly used as a lacquer retarder.




An ornament generally carved on the knees of cabriole legs and popular in the mid-18th century, based on a round or oval convex polished stone, usually with rocaille or foliate surround.

Cabriole Leg - goat

An elegant leg, most popular in the first half of the 18th century, formed of a convex curve above a concave one and resembling an animal's leg.

Camel Back or Hump Back

A settee, love seat or sofa with a serpentine-shaped top rail to the back.

Candle Slide

A thin slide to support a candlestick, extending from a slot and found particularly beneath the mirrored doors of 18th century cabinets where reflection would enhance the light; or a circular support swiveling from beneath a drawing-table etc.


The top of a column or pilaster, frequently carved following a Classical order.


An ornately-edged tablet, properly in the form of a scroll unrolled to bear an heraldic coat of arms.


A Classical female figure supporting an entablature. The male equivalent is called an Atlantis.


A manufacturing process by which a liquid material is (usually) poured into a mold, which contains a hollow cavity of the desired shape, and then allowed to solidify. The solid casting is then ejected or broken out to complete the process. Casting is most often used for making complex shapes that would be otherwise difficult or uneconomical to make by other methods.


An accelerator, activator or curing agent which chemically increases the rate of reaction in a coating. Not chemically consumed in the reaction (different from curing agent).


A strong base or alkaline material.

Caustic Soda

A common name for sodium hydroxide (lye), a strong base or alkali.


Proprietary name for ethylene glycol monobutyl ether. A slow evaporating, water miscible, relatively strong solvent. Commonly used as a lacquer retarder. Also know as Butyl Cellosolve.


Formation of a powdery surface condition due to the disintegration of the surface binder or elastomer caused by weathering, fuel, or other destructive environmental factors (e.g., exposure to ultraviolet radiation). Results in a loss of gloss.



A bevelled edge, usually at 458 and applied to solid members such as legs. Sometimes 'stopped' with another bevel.


The technique of detailing the front surface of a metal article by indenting with various hammer-struck punches. This process does not remove metal, but reshapes it.


Cracks that occur on the ends and surfaces of wood during drying are known as checks. Checking is caused by shrinkage differences between the surface and core of drying lumber. Since the ends and surfaces dry first, they tend to shrink first but are restrained by the swollen core. This results in stresses building up near the surfaces which, if they become too great, cause the wood to check. Red and white oaks, sycamore, and beech are highly susceptible to checking.

Chequered Inlay

Lines of inlay with alternating light and dark wooden squares.


A French term, signifying "Chinese-esque", refers to a recurring theme in European artistic styles since the seventeenth century, which reflect Chinese artistic influences. It is characterized by the use of fanciful imagery of an imaginary China, by asymmetry in format and whimsical contrasts of scale, and by the attempts to imitate Chinese porcelain and the use of lacquer-like materials and decoration.


Circa 1755 to 1780 - Originating in England during the late 1730s and 1740s, the Chippendale style combined three ingredients: French Rococo; Chinese ornamentation, known from imported objects; and the Gothic style. These elements were often added to furniture that reflected the Baroque architectural influences that had been so popular during the William and Mary and Queen Anne periods. Thus, the broken pediment, pilaster, and classical entablature remained essential parts of furniture design, though the Chippendale style introduced new elements as well.

Mahogany, which was available through trade, became the most widely used wood in cabinetmaking, and rich ornamental carving was favored over veneer and inlay. The claw-and-ball foot became extremely popular.


Small pieces of finish or wood removed from the surface, typically a sign of physical damage incurred in shipping or poor handling.

Chemical Resistance

A coating's ability to resistance damage from solvents, acids, and alkali.

Chlorinated Hydrocarbon

A class of strong, fast evaporating, nonflammable solvents such as carbon tetrachloride, methylene chloride or trichloroethylene.


Small holes in the surface of the film finish caused by oil, grease or silicone contamination. (aka, fisheye, cratering).

Clean and Dry

Describes the surface condition requirements prior to applying a finish. The surface shall be clean, dry, and free of oil, grease, wax, and any other contaminant that may affect the adhesion of the coating.

Dry means that the substrate contains less than 15% moisture.


A detergent, alkali, acid or similar contamination removing material, which is usually waterborne.



The process of mechanically or chemically removing foreign material or substances from an object without inflicting any damage or harm to the original materials of the object. This can be done as a treatment or a step in a more comprehensive restoration plan.


Properly a nautical wedge, but used of the framing joint across the ends of a table top to secure and stabilize the boards.

Club Foot

A foot popular in early to mid 18th century and generally used on a cabriole or turned tapered leg which swells to a depressed circular pad, often resting on a wooden disc, when properly termed Pad foot.

Coal Tar

A dark brown to black bituminous material produced by the destructive distillation of coal.


The finish applied to a surface in a single application to form a film when dry. The act of applying a finish to a surface.


Any material applied to a surface leaving a protective layer on that surface. Lacquer, polyurethane, varnish, paint, vinyl, acrylic, butyrate, and shellac are all types of coatings.

Coating defects

Defects of wet and consequent dry coating films affecting the coating's appearance and sometimes performance. Examples of coating defects include bubbles, craters, pinholes, orange peel, etc.

Coating System

A number of coats separately applied, in a predetermined order, at suitable intervals to allow for drying and curing, resulting in a completed job.



Premature drying of a coating during spraying causing a spider web effect.


The primary or secondary valence forces which bind the particles of a finish together into a continuous film.


A small half-round moulding often applied to the edges of drawer fronts and doors.

Cold Cracking

Cracks in the surface of a finish coating caused by brittleness and shrinkage due to exposure to cold temperature. Cold cracking can be reversed in evaporative finishes by re-dissolving the finish and melting it back into one continuous film. This is in contrast to cracking of a reactive finish caused by over catalyzing or heavy film thickness which can not be reversed.

Cold Paint

Cold paint refers to the finish of a pottery/ceramic item. A cold painted item is fired in a kiln, typically with a clear glaze. The item is then decoratively painted after the firing. The paint is "cold", not fired on, and tends to flake easily. Cold paint can also be done on an item that is fired in a kiln, but completely unglazed.


A thin banding or moulding applied round a leg etc.

Colonial Revival

Circa 1875 to 1910 - It became fashionable to collect antiques during the 1870s. Not only the wealthy but also the middle class adopted this pursuit when they were advised that old Japanese screens and Spanish chairs could do much to improve their interiors. Simultaneously, a revival of interest in the furniture of America's colonial past developed. At the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876, for example, interest focused on the past, and one particularly popular display featured a colonial kitchen and a set of furniture made from one of the oldest trees in Philadelphia. This exhibition stimulated a zeal for collecting old pieces of American furniture and also sparked the creation of antique reproduction pieces.

In hindsight, it is easy to see that 17th and 18th century furniture, as well as Federal and Empire pieces, were all indiscriminately regarded as "Colonial". Many reproductions of such furniture were made in the latter years of the 19th century. Some of this reproduction furniture was so well made, in fact, that today it is often difficult to distinguish these pieces from the originals.


Aspect of the dye, stain or paint that depends upon the spectral composition of the incident light, the spectral reflectance or transmittance of the film, and the spectral response of the observer, as well as the illuminating and viewing geometry.

Color Bleeding

Color bleeding occurs when a different color of finish is applied over an existing coating and it devolves into the new top coating. Such as painting white over red and getting pink areas in the white top coat. Applying a sealers or barrier coat will prevent this.


Dye, pigment, or other agent used to impart a color.

Color Fast

Nonfading; resistant to fading.

Color Retention

The ability to retain its original color during weathering or chemical exposure.

Color Wheel

A circular chart of pie shaped wedges that represent the visible color spectrum. Two color wheels are used in finishing; the artist's color wheel that presents primary and secondary colors and the finisher's color wheel that presents common earth tones.


Combustible Liquid

Any liquid having a flash point at or above 100 degrees F (37.8C)


Ability of two or more coating components to mix with each other in a wet or dry state to form a homogeneous composition without specific negative interactions.


A mixture of resin, whiting and glue size, used to make moldings such as picture frames.


The profession devoted to the preservation of cultural property for the future. Conservation activities include examination, documentation, treatment, and preventive care, supported by research and education.

Conservation Technician

An individual who is trained and experienced in specific conservation treatment activities and who works in conjunction with or under the supervision of a conservator. A conservation technician may also be trained and experienced in specific preventive care activities.


A professional whose primary occupation is the practice of conservation and who, through specialized education, knowledge, training, and experience, formulates and implements all the activities of conservation in accordance with an ethical code such as the AIC Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice.


A scrolled bracket or Truss; or a table attached to a wall, the top supported by one.

Conversion Coating

Also known as reactive coatings, they cure by chemical reaction. This chemical reaction may be between the oxygen in the air and the constituents of the coating, or between a catalyst or accelerator introduced into the coating material by the finisher. Drying oils such as tung and linseed, varnishes, two-part finishes, etc. are all examples of reactive coatings. The word conversion is used because a non-reversible chemical conversion has taken place in order to produce a dry, hard film. This does not mean that solvents will not dissolve or just damage the coating, just that the damage is non-reversible.


Large molecules obtained by simultaneous polymerization of different monomers, as in vinyl copolymers.

Corinthian Order

An elaborate Classical order with a moulded base, fluted column, carved acanthus capital with volute scrolls and a decorated frieze.


A projecting moulded ledge finishing off the top of a piece of case furniture, sometimes embellished with dentils etc. See entablature.


The build up of powdered on sandpaper when sanding a coat of finish. May indicate the finish is not sufficiently cured for sanding or the wrong type of sandpaper has been used. Corns on the paper surface will mar the surface being sanded and the paper should be replaced.

Coved Top

A flat top generally on a lid, with a cavetto moulded edge.


Referring to the ability of a coating to cover a surface. Often referred to as spread rate calculated in either square feet per gallon or square meters per liter.



Splitting of a coating film as a result of aging, formation of internal stresses or deformation of substrates.

Crackle Finish

Intentional splitting of a coating film to replicate an aged look.


Small, shallow, bowl-shaped depressions in a coating film. Viewed under magnification, these depressions frequently have drops, particles, or bands of material at their centers and raised circular edges. Some common causes of cratering are: oil particles/droplets from air lines, and substrate contamination such as silicone from furniture polish or machinery lubricants. Also known as fisheye.


When a coating applied tends to flow away from areas leaving them uncoated. This is usually caused by grease or oil contamination of the surface to be coated.


Formation of surface fissures (similar to cracking ) that change the properties of the film. However, it is much less severe than cracking and does not penetrate to the underlying surface.


An ornamental decoration set in the center of the top of a mirror, cabinet or chair back, etc.

Cross-Peen Hammer

Hammers with long, narrow faces running perpendicular to the handle and used for raising, forming, and planishing.

Cross Spraying

Spraying the first pass in one direction and the second at a right angle to the first, providing more even film distribution. Also known as box coating or cross hatching.

Cross Tongued

A slither of wood let in along the grain to join two pieces of wood together, often used as a miter joint. The slither may be dovetailed.


The setting up of chemical links between molecular chains to form a three dimensional network of connected molecules.


Crosslinking agent

Catalytic or reactive agent which when added to resin causes crosslinking of chains (aka, curing agent, hardener).


Process by which a coating is converted from the liquid to the solid state by changes in the properties of the resin by chemical reaction as crosslinking or polymerization.

Curing Agent

A hardener or activator added to a synthetic resin to develop the proper film forming properties.


Originating from Gothic window tracery, shaping which is marked by continuous flowing lines.


From Gothic window tracery, a re-entrant meeting point of two arcs or foils.

Cultural Property

Objects, collections, specimens, structures, or sites identified as having artistic, historic, scientific, religious, or social significance.


Long horizontal runs in a coating film that occur on vertical surfaces when a coating is applied too heavily. Sagging on a large scale.

Cyanoacrylate (CA Glue)

Cyanoacrylate is the generic name for cyanoacrylate based fast-acting adhesives such as methyl 2-cyanoacrylate, ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate (commonly sold under trade names like Super Glue and Krazy Glue), n-butyl cyanoacrylate.

The fumes from CA are a vaporized form of the cyanoacrylate monomer that irritate sensitive membranes in the eyes, nose and throat. They are immediately polymerized by the moisture in the membranes and become inert. These risks can be minimized by using CA in well ventilated areas. About 5% of the population can become sensitized to CA fumes after repeated exposure, resulting in flu-like symptoms.




Damascening is the art of inlaying different metals into one another-- typically, gold or silver into a darkly oxidized steel background-- to produce intricate patterns similar to niello. The English term comes from a perceived resemblance to the rich tapestry patterns of damask silk.

The technique also has a long history in Japan, where it was used to decorate katana fittings, particularly tsuba. Known as zougan in Japanese, it has developed its own subset of terms to describe the particular patterns, although "shippou-zougan" is an enameling technique which most Westerners would consider closer to champlevé.

Damascened-inlay jewelry, especially of Japanese origin, is sometimes referred to as shakudo from the use of that alloy as the dark background.

The technique of niello is also famously attested in prehistoric Greece. The earliest occurrence of damascening in the Aegean, from the Shaft Graves of Mycenae, dates to the latest Middle Bronze Age/Middle Helladic IIIB period. Ultimately of Near Eastern provenance, the technique of inlaying silver/gold was adapted to suit Aegean taste and style.


In America, Damaskeening is the term used for watches and in horology to describe patterns on watch movements. The European terms are Fausses Côtes, Côtes de Genéve or Geneva Stripes. These patterns are made from very fine scratches made by rose engine lathe using small disks, polishing wheels or ivory laps. These patterns look similar to the results of a spirograph or Guilloché engraving. Damaskeening was first used in America around 1868-1869 by the U.S. Watch Co of Marrion and later spread to most other American watch manufacturers.

Two-tone damaskeening can be created by applying a thin plating of gold and then having the damaskeening scrape through the gold outer layer and into the nickel plate, or simply creating damaskeening on the gold layer. This creates patterns with two colors.


The removal of the shine on a surface either by sanding or chemical de-glossers. (see scuff sanding)

Deionized Water

Water which has been purified to remove mineral salts.


The separation between layers of coats or substrate due to poor adhesion.

Denatured alcohol

Ethyl alcohol with a small percentage of a poison added. Used as a solvent for shellac and some dyes.


One of a series of small rectangular blocks projecting like teeth from a molding or beneath a cornice. Taken from the Ionic and Corinthian orders.


Mass per unit volume, usually expressed as grams per milliliter or pounds per gallon.

Depression Glass

Circa 1920 through 1940 - American machine-made, molded glass that was cheaply sold and/or given away. Pieces were often given away as premiums with food items or at movie theaters.

Dew Point

The temperature of a surface, at a given ambient temperature and relative humidity, at which condensation of moisture will occur.


Dry film thickness.


Repeated geometric decoration of diamond shapes, sometimes as a pierced trellis or lattice.

Die Forming

The process of stamping or hammering a sheet of metal into a form which has the outline of the object. Also used when making duplicate objects.


Portion of the volatile components of a coating which is not a true solvent. Has minimal effect on the viscosity and reduces the solids content in applied coating formulations.



Making a turned depression in the top of the table, candle stand etc. with a view to saving objects from slipping off; or the shaping of the wooden seat of a Windsor chair for comfort.


The suspension of tiny particles, usually pigments, in a liquid, usually resin.

Distilled Water

Water which has been purified by vaporizing the liquid and collecting the vapor which is then condensed back to a liquid having, in the process, removed the contaminants.


Intentional distressed comes in two forms, artistic and physical, or a combination of both.

There are two reason to use them. First is it can give a new piece an old, used look that some find beautiful. The other is simply to hide defects on low end production furniture. If anywhere in the process a piece gets a dent or scratch, you simply say "It was made to look that way", no need for repairs.

Artistic distressing employs the use of contrasting color(s) to add "character" or patina. A china marker to make fine scratches, a stiff brush to flick on fly specks, several pipe cleaners wrapped together and dipped in a NGR stain or glaze, a paint brush with most of the bristles cut out at different lengths, etc. Glazed, pickled and crackle finishes fall into this category. No damage is done to the wood and refinishing will remove artistic distressing.

Physical distressing uses various tools and custom made devices to inflict actual damage to the wood. Ice picks, shoot guns with bird shot and routers for worm holes. Rasps, grinders and sanders to ware off edges. Chains, hammers and crowbars for shallow dents. Chisels, gouges and knifes to produce chips and gouges. Chemicals like lye, acids, ammonia and salts are also used for stains and deterioration of the wood. These effects are permanent. No amount of refinishing will reverse physical distressing.

Heavy distressing became very popular in the late 60's and early 70's. Once again there were two reasons. First the "look" became very vogue along with painted antiquing. Secondly it was a way for furniture manufactures to speed up production. Furniture is like fruit, in that they both bruise and can be damaged easily. A distressed finished made repairing small blemishes or minor damage, which can be very time consuming on the production line, unnecessary. On the retail level small defects were now easily repaired. Consumer were told "That's not a defect, it was made to look like that intentionally. Its part of the custom finishing process."

There is also two types of "looks" one tries to achieve when distressing. One is an overall even distressing where there is uniform, balanced appearance. The other is trying to imitate natural ware to make an item look old. Distressing is applied to areas that would normally get damaged and ware in its normal use. For this type you work on the edges corners, legs, feet, around pulls, on tops, inside drawers and alike, imitating normal ware and damage patterns.

Its a matter of personal taste if you like it or not. In my 40 years of professional finishing I find its about a 60/40 split, with most not preferring it. But like most finishing trends it goes in and out of vogue.

Domed Top

Properly a three-dimensional vault, but also used of the arched top of a late 17th/early 18th century cabinet, or of a box etc.

Doric Order

The earliest of the Greek orders of architecture, initially the columns without bases, with fluting, plain moulded capitals and decorated frieze.


In jointing two pieces of wood together at right angles, one of a series of wedge shaped projections on one piece which fit into corresponding slots on the other. A Half-dovetail has one side angled and the other straight; a Lapped-dovetail does not extend all the way through on one surface.


A small wooden peg used in joinery for securing a mortice and tenon or other joint.


A narrow, waist-high bench equipped with a chain dragging a pair of drawtongs (large coarse-toothed pliers) used to grip the end of a piece of wire. This wire is then pulled through a series of consecutively smaller dies (round, square, triangular, etc.) reducing its thickness. Patterned dies may also be used to produce moldings, boarders, etc.


Chemical agent which promotes oxidation and drying of a coating. Mainly used in oil based coatings, printing inks and varnishes. Driers are usually metallic compositions and are available in both solid and liquid forms. Different groups of driers are available: primary driers (active driers), secondary driers (auxiliary driers), and combination driers.

Drop Leaf

A hinged extension flap to a table, dropping vertically when not in use, which can be supported horizontally by a swing leg, a fly bracket or a loper.

Dry Hard

The elapsed time at which a coating has reached its optimum hardness. Although finishes like shellac, lacquer, and waterborne don't cure/crosslink, they do retain solvents in the film for long periods and continue to shrink as the solvents slowly evaporate. This slow evaporation and shrinkage is the reason behind the recommendation to wait up to a month before rubbing these finishes to a high gloss. Otherwise, the finish may continue to shrink and the pores in the wood will re-appear in the surface of the finish as dimples.


Drying Oil

An oil having the property of hardening by oxidation to a tough film when exposed to air in the form of a thin film.

Drying Time

The interval between the application of a coating and when it is ready for service.

Dry Time

Time allotted for an applied coating film to reach a set stage of cure or hardness.

Dry to Handle

The degree of cure at which a film will resist deformation due to handling.

Dry to Recoat

The time required for a cured film to dry prior to the application of a second coat without adverse impact.

Dry to Tack Free

A stage at which a coating film will form a skin to which dust will not adhere.

Dry to Touch

The state of dry at which a coating film will not transfer onto an item touched lightly against it.



A loss of gloss or sheen.


The degree to which a coating can withstand the destructive effects of the environment to which it is exposed including the ability to withstand scrubbing, abrasion, etc. Not directly related to hardness.

Duncan Phyfe

Circa 1795 to 1848 - The Duncan Phyfe style is characterized by carved or reeded legs and neoclassic motifs. It is named after American cabinetmaker Duncan Phyfe, and is considered by some art historians as more of an adaptation and refinement of Adam, Sheraton, Hepplewhite and Empire than a style in itself.

Dust Specks

A surface defect in a dried coating caused by small particles settling on the surface of the finish as it was drying, before a film had formed on the surface. Repaired by sanding level and recoating or rubbing out.


A thin board, generally of softwood, fixed to the rails between the drawers of a chest.


A coloring material that dissolves completely in a system that is very transparent.



Early Colonial

The earliest American furniture was based on the English furniture makers that used Italian Renaissance influences. When the two earliest American colonies were founded, Jamestown (1607) and Plymouth (1620), James I (1603-1625) was the reigning monarch in England. For this reason, the term Jacobean is sometimes used to describe the earliest American furniture. However, because this earliest type of furniture is derived from a combination of several earlier design sources, the term "Early Colonial" is used to describe this period.


Circa 1870 to 1890 - The Eastlake furniture style as envisioned by its namesake, Charles Lock Eastlake, came about in response to his dislike of the over-the-top Rococo and Renaissance Revival styles popular during the Victorian era. Although Eastlake furniture is technically considered Victorian, being popular from 1870-1890, it breaks away from the excessive high relief carving, classical elements and numerous curves of other styles produced during this timeframe.

In contrast with other Victorian styles of furniture produced in America featuring classical motifs, Eastlake furniture is more geometric and incorporates modest curves. It sometimes includes mild Renaissance and medieval influences that do not overwhelm the design. Ornamental carving seen on these pieces is lightly incised rather than deeply carved. Wood grains were often emphasized, with oak, cherry and walnut often used in Eastlake pieces.


An effect in the film caused by rapid solvent release. This "boiling" of solvent causes a pinholed or cratered appearance reducing gloss.

Egg and Dart or Echinus

A Classical decorative carving, repeating these motifs usually applied to an ovolo moulding.


A low-luster paint sheen between flat and satin.


The ability of a substance to return to its original shape or volume after a distorting force on the substance has been removed.


The process of putting a metallic coating on a metal or other conducting surface by using an electric current. It is used to improve the appearance of materials, for protection against corrosion, and to make plates for printing.

The article to be plated is thoroughly cleaned of grease and dirt by dipping it in acid and alkaline cleaning solutions. It is then put in a solution of the metal with which it is to be coated. The metal exists in the form of positive ions (atoms that have lost one or more electrons). The article is connected to the cathode (negative end of a source of electricity). The anode (positive electric terminal) is connected to another conductor which is also dipped into the solution. The electric current acts on the metallic ions in the solution. The ions are attracted to the cathode, and the coating is deposited on the article's metal surface. If the metal in the solution and the metal of the positive terminal are the same, the electricity may remove metal from the terminal to replace metal taken from the solution.

The thickness of the layer deposited on the article depends on the strength of the electric current, the concentration of metallic ions, and the length of time the article has been in the solution. The terms triple-plated and quadruple-plated indicate various thicknesses of plating, not separate layers deposited on the surface.

Electrostatic Spray

System of applying a coating in which the coating droplets from an air, air-assisted airless, or airless spray gun are given an electrical surface charge. These electrical charged droplets are attracted to an electrically grounded workpiece.


Circa 1558 to 1603 - Popular during the reign of Elizabeth I of England in the latter half of the 16th century, Elizabethan furniture is massive and often heavily carved. The style regained popularity in the early 19th century.

Embarrassing Time

The window of time one has to top coat over a reactive finish before it fully cures so it can cross link together and the solvents not attack it causing it to crinkle or negatively effect it.


Raised, relief or dimensional design on paper, cardboard such as vintage postcards, leather and metal. Often be used on decorative metal pieces as a way of showing some dimension to the design.


Circa 1804 to 1815 - Greek and Roman ideals dominated this style. Combining the simplicity of the antique with the imperial grandeur of the Napoleon era.

The Empire style, which displayed the ideal for severe forms in its simple and rigid lines, was cold, artificial and uninviting, and offered little in comfort. It also eliminated almost all curving elements, curved lines were largely restricted to only chairs and sofas.

The use of moldings, which gives interest to even the simplest furniture, was almost abandoned. When moldings did occur they were of a diminutive character, such as a fillet or a narrow flat band.


A two phase liquid system in which small droplets of one liquid are immiscible in and are dispersed uniformly throughout a second continuous liquid phase.


Technically, an enamel is a colored varnish, or high gloss paint. Generally, the term is used for high quality, dirt-resistant paints for interior use that may have a sheen level from satin to glossy. These coatings are used for more demanding applications as in kitchens, bathrooms, etc.


Engaged Column

A column which is partially attached rather than free standing.

Engine Turning

An engraving technique in which a very precise intricate repetitive patterns or design is mechanically engraved into an underlying material with very fine detail. It is engraving on a two- or three-dimensional surface with a diamond stylus cutting very specific designs, mostly linear. You've probably seen examples engine turning on card cases, money clips, and dresserware. Engine turning is also called guilloché after the French engineer "Guillot," who invented a machine "that could scratch fine patterns and designs on metallic surfaces." Engine turning machines were first used in the 1500-1600's on soft materials like ivory and wood and in the 1700's it was adopted for metal such as gold and silver. The last machines were manufactured around 1948-1949. The machine improved upon the more time-consuming practice of making similar designs by hand, allowing for greater delicacy, precision, and closeness of the line, as well as greater speed.


The process of cutting shallow lines into metal with a sharp graver, reproducing artwork which has been drawn on a metal article. Unlike machine engraving, hand engraving removes metal when cutting.


An entablature refers to the superstructure of moldings and bands which lie horizontally above columns, resting on their capitals. Entablatures are major elements of classical architecture, and are commonly divided into the architrave (the supporting member carried from column to column, pier or wall immediately above) the frieze (an unmolded strip that may or may not be ornamented) and the cornice (the projecting member below the pediment).

The structure of the entablature varies with the three classical orders: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. In each, the proportions of the subdivisions (architrave, frieze, cornice) are defined by the proportions of the column in the order. In Roman and Renaissance interpretations, it is usually approximately a quarter of the height of the column. Variants of entablature that do not fit these models are usually derived from them.


A synthetic resin, derived from petroleum products that can be cured by a catalyst or used to upgrade other synthetic resins to form a harder, more chemical resistant film.


A small, portable writing desk with a sloping front door, hinged at the bottom edge, that can be opened downwards to provide a writing surface. It is usually larger than a lap desk. The interior may contain small drawers designed to hold the traditional ink pot, sand container, blotter and writing feathers or pens. This type of antique appeared in the 16th century in Europe and was produced in large quantities in France in the 18th century. Modern reproductions are sometimes made of this compact desk form.


An heraldic shield for a coat of arms, extended through its shape to the pivoting metal guard over a keyhole, and the keyhole surround itself. A metal-edged keyhole surround is known as a Thread escutcheon.


Compounds formed by the reaction of alcohols and organic acids.


A process of dissolving metal with acid, leaving a recessed design. The upper, unetched surface is sometimes engraved.

Evaporative Coating

Cure by solvent evaporation alone and don't undergo a chemical conversion of the binder/resins during curing. Evaporative finishes can, and usually do, undergo intermolecular mechanical changes as they cure. Lacquer, shellac, and most water-borne coatings are example of the evaporative type. Molecules in the dry film are held together by intermolecular forces that are different than the chemical bonds formed as part of a reaction, as in the case of conversion coatings. However, in many cases, binder resins present in evaporative coatings still undergo a permanent chemical conversion after most of the solvent in the coating has evaporated.

Exempt solvent

Solvent which is not subject to air pollution legislation. Acetone for example.


A low hiding, inexpensive pigment that fills out and extends the high-hiding pigment's capabilities, provides bulk to the paint, and can positively or negatively have an impact on many properties. Some common extenders are clays, calcium carbonate, and silica.

External Atomization

Using air to break up a coating material after it has exited the spray gun nozzle.




The loss of color most commonly due to exposure to sunlight (UV).


A fake is a copy of a legitimate item that is made to deceive the buyer. Many times the fake will show original marks, making it more difficult to authenticate a piece. Fakes are a huge problem with online auctions, know your seller and know your stuff before spending big bucks.

Fall Front

The vertical or sloped front or flap of a cabinet, bureau or desk, hinged at the bottom edge to form a horizontal surface when lowered, generally as a writing surface.

Fan Pattern

The geometry of a spray pattern.

Fast to Light

A color which is not significantly affected by exposure to sunlight.

FAUX Finishing

Faux finishing can be considered as a form of art. It has been in practice for centuries. The earliest reference to an art form similar to the faux painting techniques had been found in the Mycenaean pottery, and in some of the Greek art works, made around 2200 BC.

The English language borrowed this term "faux" from the French, which originally meant fake, but the derived meaning of this word is, something made to resemble something else.

Faux painting or faux finishing is an artistic process of recreating the look and or the feel of natural materials such as marble, wood, limestone, stained and distressed paint and even to create an effect of aged plaster. Faux painting and finishing is not a one step process. It employs many techniques and processes to replicate the varied textures and visual looks we find so appealing. Also see Flux Painting History.

Feather Edge

Reduced film thickness at the edge of a dry film finish in order to produce a smooth, continuous appearance.


Circa 1780 to 1820 - This Neo-Classicism style was introduced in America gradually during America's Federal age. The Chippendale style persisted into the 1790s, though it began to be often seen in combination with Federal decorative motifs as well. After the Revolution, a new wave of cabinetmakers began to arrive in the infant United States from England, Ireland, Scotland, and in the early 19th century France. Bringing with them ideas from the popular European furniture pattern books, these craftsmen catered, in the East, to a rising new class of wealthy merchants who were anxious to keep abreast of fashionable trends in Europe.


A Garland or swag, of flowers and foliage, suspended from both ends, a chain.

Fielded Panel

A wooden panel with a raised central area and bevelled or moulded surround.


A compound used to extend or bulk a coating to provide extra body or hiding power.


A narrow flat band or moulding between two larger moldings or flutes.

Film Build

The dry film thickness characteristics of a coat.


Film forming process

Formation by drying of a solid and coherent polymer-matrix film from a fluid coating applied to a substrate. Drying can be physical drying (for coatings based on thermoplastic binders), chemical drying (for coatings based on reactive binders), or both.

Film Integrity

The continuity of a coating free of defects.

Film Thickness Gauge

A device for measuring wet or dry film thickness.


A knob or ornamental projection at the top of an upright member or on a pediment (see acroteria). A downward-pointing finial is called a pendant.


A scale that developes on the outer surface of a non-ferrous objects without protective flux during brazing. The scale must then be removed chemically or by abrasive methods.


Oxidized copper in solid silver that can be found on many pre-colonial through early twentieth century pieces. If, after cleaning your silver (not silverplate) piece, a purplish stain remains, do not mistake this stain (cuprous oxide) for tarnish! Attempting to remove it will only damage your prized piece. It is not generally seen on pieces that have been produced by the large American silver companies after the early 1900s, but many one-person silversmithing shops still use this technique. I will not get into the technicalities of firestain here, but the stain is usually obscured with fine silver either by silverplating the object or through a process called depletion. The firestain under this fine silver layer, which may be a few thousandths of an inch thick, may not show up until after many years of polishing.

Fish Eye

Circular voids, pockmarks, craters, or separation in the coating. Fish-eyes can be caused by oily spots or silicone particles and/or by air-borne droplets that are deposited on the surface being finished. Not uncommon in refinishing when the piece was polished with a product containing silicone.

Fish Eye Eliminator

An additive (e.g., "Smoothie", "Fish Eye Flow-Out") that contains silicone. Eliminates the surface tension difference on a contaminated substrate allowing the finish to flow level.



Any substance easily ignited in the presence of a flame; any liquid having a flash point below 100F (38.8C).


The outward concave curve of a leg etc. The general term for a flared rim is Everted, a splay.

Flash or Flash-Off

The point at which a sprayed coating stops flowing or leveling. Premature flash causes orange-peel when the atomized droplets do not flow into a completely flat and even film.

Flash-Off Control Solvent

An additive that extends the wet time or "flash" of a sprayed or brushed coating. See "retarder."

Flash-Off Time

The time needed to allow the solvents to evaporate and the sprayed finish to form a surface film. The time which must be allowed after the application of a film finish before baking/forced drying in order that the initial solvents are released, which prevents bubbling.

Flash Point

The flash point of a flammable liquid is the lowest temperature at which it can form an ignitable mixture in air. At this temperature the vapor may cease to burn when the source of ignition is removed. A slightly higher temperature, the fire point, is defined as the temperature at which the vapor continues to burn after being ignited. Neither of these parameters is related to the temperatures of the ignition source or of the burning liquid, which are much higher. The flash point is often used as one descriptive characteristic of liquid fuel, but it is also used to describe liquids that are not used intentionally as fuels.

Every flammable liquid has a vapor pressure, which is a function of that liquid's temperature. As the temperature increases, the vapor pressure increases. As the vapor pressure increases, the concentration of evaporated flammable liquid in the air increases. Hence, temperature determines the concentration of evaporated flammable liquid in the air.

Each flammable liquid requires a different concentration of its vapour in air to sustain combustion. The flash point of a flammable liquid is the lowest temperature at which there can be enough flammable vapour to ignite, when an ignition source is applied.


A coating that has little or no sheen.


The degree at which a coating is able to conform to movement or deformation of its supporting surface without cracking or flaking.



The act of applying a coating very heavily to the substrate.


The degree to which a wet coating film can level out after application so as to eliminate brush marks and produce a smooth, uniform finish.

Fluid Tip

The orifice in a spray gun to which the needle is seated (aka, nozzle).


A class of pigments which, when exposed to visible light, emit light of a different wave length producing a bright appearance.


A decorative motif consisting of a series of uniform repeated half-round concave channels found particularly on columns, pilasters, friezes and legs.

Fly Bracket

An English term - a shaped vertical bracket hinged with a finger joint (Knuckle joint) to support a flap on a table etc., a gate leg.

Fly Specks

In flux finishing the term refers to a splatter technique that emulates a small dark speck or stain made by the excrement of a fly as often seen on old furniture.

Force Drying

The acceleration of drying by increasing the ambient temperature.

Fold Forming

Fold forming is a new, quick, easily learned way of shaping sheet metal with hand tools. Forms are derived from the natural plasticity and ductility of the metal. Lewton-Brain invented fold-forming, which is internationally recognized as a new way to work metal. Shaping is extremely efficient and rapid (many take 3-7 minutes working time). Tools are simple fingers, hammers, anvil, and mill. Complex relief forms are made from sheets of metal often on one annealing. They resemble chased, constructed, and soldered forms, and can be made with most metals, including steel.


A process that has as its primary purpose the alteration of the original thickness and cross-section of metal. This is usually through hammering wire, rods of metal, ingots (as would be forged into sheet by modern day Colonial Williamsburg silversmiths), or heavy sheet stock (for forming most flatware).


A process which has as its primary purpose altering a sheet of metal so that it changes planes, three-dimensionally. Changes in the metal's thickness are incidental by-products of the process of forming.

Foxed - Foxing

Brown discoloration spots on paper.

French Polish

A shellac base coating which is applied by manually "padding" it onto the surface. y thinner not recommended on the label or in published literature of the manufacturer, which can affect the coatings performance.


A horizontal band, flat or convex (Phrygian work) and often decorated, properly between an architrave and cornice, but also used of the framing beneath a refectory or side table or a decorative horizontal band, as along the upper part of a wall in a room.




A carved decorative edge moulding of repeated convex tapered ribs, generally diverging obliquely either side of a central point. When set square to the edge, may be differentiated by the term Nulling.


A coating which has thickened to a jelly like consistency making it unusable.

George I

Circa 1714 to 1727 - George I, born in 1660, was king of Great Britain and Ireland from 1714 until his death in 1727. Much of the fine George I furniture was made of walnut and also veneered with walnut. The serpentine curves, the cabriole leg of rounded section and the claw-and-ball-foot were all features of George I period chairs in England.

George II

Circa 1727 to 1760 - George II, born in 1683, was king in Great Britain from 1727 until his death in 1760. Mahogany replaced walnut as the fashionable wood. Mahogany furniture is dark reddish and didn't need varnishing.

George II

Circa 1760 to 1820 - George III was the grandson of George II. He was born in 1738 and reigned from 1760 until 1811 over the United Kingdom. The Prince of Wales, George IV, acted as Regent for the next 9 years until the death of George III in 1820. Mahogany was the preferred wood. Painted satinwood and giltwood expressed the English interpretation of Rococo.


Circa 1714 to 1760 - The Georgian style is a more ornate version of Queen Anne with heavier proportions, elaborately carved cabriole legs terminating in a pad or ball-and-claw foot, ornate carvings, pierced back splats and the use of gilding. It is named after George I and George II who reigned England from 1714-1760.

Gesso - chalk

A mixture of whiting (finely ground gypsum or chalk) and glue size applied to wood to provide a smooth or low-relief carved surface before painting, gilding or lacquering.


Gilding is the technique of applying a thin layer of gold to a surface. Gilding is performed through mechanical processes, such as leafing, or using one of many chemical processes.


A type of wiping stain applied over a sealed or partially sealed (washcoat) surface and then sealed in with the topcoats. Glazing stains are NOT intended for use on bare wood though thick gel stains can be used as a glazing stain.

Glazes are used to highlight shapes and design elements, add a layer of color in the finish, and create faux finishes.

There are some spray only, dry on contact glazes available that cannot be manipulated other than selectively removing portions of the glaze to control color intensity. These glazes are used to accentuate design features and/or create an aged/antiqued look.


The sheen or ability to reflect light. Flat finishes have no gloss. High gloss finishes are very shiny. Also known as sheen.

Gloss Retention

The ability to retain the original sheen during weathering.

Glycol Ether

A group of relatively slow evaporating, strong solvents.

Gold Leaf

Gold leaf is available in a wide variety of carats and shades. 23-carat gold is the most commonly used variety. The traditional method of manufacturing gold leaf is a process called goldbeating. In industrialized nations, the process has been replaced with more mechanized methods.

There are a variety of imitation gold leaf products available. These are used in order to avoid the high price of gold. These imitation gold, or gold-colored leafs are more accurately grouped into the broader category of metal leaf. Real yellow gold leaf is about 92% pure gold. Silver colored white gold is approximately 50% pure gold.

Layering gold leaf over a surface is sometimes called gold leafing, and is a very common form of gilding.


Circa 1558 to 1625 - Domestic furniture during the early Gothic period were essentially of simple and crude construction. The furniture was solid and massive and severe in character. The forms of the furniture were generally rectilinear with emphasis on the vertical.


The name of which derives from the Italian guazzo, water paint, splash or bodycolor (the term preferred by art historians) is a type of paint consisting of pigment suspended in water. Gouache differs from watercolor in that the particles are larger, the ratio of pigment to water is much higher, and an additional, inert, white pigment such as chalk is also present. Like all watermedia, it is diluted with water. (Gum Arabic is also present as a binding agent, just as in water color.) This makes gouache heavier and more opaque, with greater reflective qualities.

"Guazzo" was originally a term applied to the early 16th century practice of applying oil paint over a tempera base. The term was applied to the watermedia in the 18th century in France, although the technique is considerably older. It was used as early as the 14th century in Europe.


Decoration of a surface, especially oak, with repeated small carved-out semi-circular depressions.


The direction, size, arrangement or appearance of the fibers in wood.

Grain Raising

The swelling and raising of wood fibers caused by absorption of water.

Greek Key

A Classical interlocking geometric decoration repeated in bands.


A style of monochromatic painting in shades of gray, used especially for the representation of relief sculpture.


A measure of the size of abrasive particles used in the manufacturing of sandpaper. Grit can also be measured as the number of particles in an square inch of sandpaper surface.


A Classical decoration of repeated interlaced circles, properly formed of plaited ribbons. Sometimes in the form of overlapping disc.




When associated with a piece of pottery, a hairline crack is about the thickness of a strand of hair, hence the name. A hairline crack can be barely seen and usually cannot be "felt". Even though it's a small amount of damage, it still is a crack and will affect the value of the piece.

In finishing a hairline crack refers to fine line cracks in the surface coating, usually cold cracking.

In cabinetmaking, hairline crack is referencing a small split or sometimes invisible crack in a board. Often the result of damage to the log when the tree was felled.


An activator curing agent, catalyst or cross linking agent. Substance or mixture of substances added to a resin to promote or control the curing reaction by taking part in it. Also known as crosslinking agent or curing agent.


The term hardwood is used to describe wood from non-monocot angiosperm trees and for those trees themselves. These are usually broad-leaved; in temperate and boreal latitudes they are mostly deciduous, but in tropics and subtropics mostly evergreen.

Hardwood contrasts with softwood which comes from conifer trees. On average, hardwood is of higher density and hardness than softwood, although there is an enormous variation in actual wood hardness in both groups, with the range in density in hardwoods completely including that of softwoods; some hardwoods (e.g. balsa) are softer than most softwoods, while yew is an example of a hard softwood.


The degree to which a material will withstand pressure without deformation or scratching. Hardness is not an indicator of durability, but harder finishes can be rubbed out more easily. Finishes can be tested for hardness using the Pencil Hardness Test.


Circa 1750 to 1790 - Named after English designer and cabinetmaker George Hepplewhite whose designs in "The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterers Guide" were published posthumously in 1788. The Hepplewhite style is neoclassic and was reproduced in the United States particularly in the Carolinas, Maryland, New England, New York and Virginia. It is characterized by a delicate appearance, tapered legs and the use of contrasting veneers and inlay.

Hide Glue

Animal glue was the most common woodworking glue for thousands of years until the advent of synthetic glues such as polyvinyl acetate (PVA) and other resin glues in the 20th century. Today it is used primarily in specialty applications such as lutherie, pipe organ building, and antique restoration. Glass artists take advantage of hide glue's ability to bond with glass, applying hide glue to glass. As the glue hardens it shrinks, chipping the glass.

The significant disadvantages of hide glue - its thermal limitations, short open time, poor gap filling capability and vulnerability to micro-organisms - are offset by several advantages. Hide glue joints are reversible and repairable. Recently glued joints will release easily with the application of heat and steam. Hide glue sticks to itself, so the repairer can apply new hide glue to the joint and reclamp it. In contrast, PVA glues do not adhere to themselves once they are cured, so a successful repair requires removal of the old glue first - which usually requires removing some of the material being glued.

High Build

A term referring to a coating/finish which can produce a thick film in a single coat. Having a high solids content.


Architecturally, a roof with sloping instead of gabled ends, used of some lids (see pitched); also an extension at the top of a cabriole leg which clasps the rail above; also used of the protuberance at the top of the flared legs of a 19th century centre support table.

Ho-ho Bird

A carved and gilded Chinoiserie bird based on a crane, often found on Rococo mirrors or crestings.


Any discontinuity, bare or thin spot when applying topcoats (you missed a spot!).


The basis of color (e.g., whether a color is red, green, etc.). Lighter or darker variations are still the same hue. Thus, a light red and a deep red are the same hue.


The family name of the German company established in 1814, known for their fine porcelain figurines, plates and dinnerware. The company's mark, a Lion is still in use today, although the company is now part of the Rosenthal, Waterford Wedgwood Group


Extracts from petroleum such as gasoline, lubricating oils, solvents, etc.


Readily absorbing moisture, as from the atmosphere or has an affinity for water.


Repelling, tending not to combine with, or incapable of dissolving in water.



Impact Resistance

The ability to resist deformation or cracking due to a forceful blow.


Unsuitable for use together because of undesirable chemical or physical effects. Often used in reference to coatings and/or stains which are not capable of being mixed with one another (e.g., shellac that contains wax and polyurethane or waterborne finishes).

Induction Time

The period of time between mixing of two component products and the moment they can be used. For example, when mixing dye with a waterborne finish, you should wait an hour before using it to give the dye time to incorporate into the finish. Some catalyzed finishes have a waiting period before use once the catalyst is added.

Inert Pigment

A non-reactive pigment, filler or extender.

Inhibitive Pigment

A pigment which assists in the prevention of the corrosion process.


Inlay is a decorative technique of inserting pieces of contrasting, often colored materials into depressions in a base object to form patterns or pictures that normally are flush with the matrix. In a wood matrix, inlays commonly use wood veneers, but other materials like shells, mother-of-pearl, horn or ivory may also be used. Colored stones inlaid in white or black marbles, and inlays of precious metals in a base metal matrix (niello) are other familiar forms of inlay.

Inlay differs from marquetry, a similar technique that largely replaced it in high-style European furniture during the 17th century, in that marquetry is an assembly of veneers applied over the entire surface of an object, whereas inlay consists of small pieces inserted on the bed of cut spaces in the base material, of which most remains visible.

Inlay is commonly used in production of decorative furniture, where pieces of colored wood or metal are inserted into the surface of the carcass. Lutherie inlays are frequently used as decoration and marking on musical instruments, particularly the smaller strings.


The designation of compounds that do not contain carbon.

Inscrolled Foot

A carved foot, most often of the late 17th/early 18th century, which curls under and inwards (also known more fancifully as Braganza, Spanish or knurled foot), as opposed to the later and more elegant Out scrolled (or French) foot.


The inability to be dissolved.

Intercoat Adhesion

The adhesion between successive coats of finish.

Intercoat Contamination

The presence of foreign matter such as dust or dirt between successive coats of finish.

Internal Mix

A spray gun in which the fluid and air are combined before leaving the gun.

Iron Oxide

An oxide of iron. The natural occurring state of steel.

Isopropyl Alcohol

A volatile, flammable liquid used as a solvent commonly known as rubbing alcohol.




Circa 1600 to 1690 - An English style of furniture, which is medieval in appearance with straight lines, rigid designs, sturdy construction, ornate carvings and a dark finish. Much of the early American furniture was patterned after this style.


The European imitation of Oriental lacquer, using spirit and oil varnishes, from the late 17th century.


The craft of assembling exposed woodwork in the interiors of buildings. Where carpentry refers to the rougher, simpler, and primarily structural elements of wood assembling, joinery has to do with difficult surfaces and curvatures, such as those of spiral stairs, with complex intersections of members or moldings, and with the handling of the finer qualities and varieties of woods. The joiner's skill and art thus approach those of the cabinetmaker. One must have an extensive knowledge of geometrical relations and projections, in addition to being manually proficient. In modern woodworking, however, the hand processes of the joiner have, to a large degree, been superseded by mechanical means.


The surface at which two or more mechanical or structural components are united. Whenever parts of a machine or structure are brought together and fastened into position, a joint is formed.


Judaica includes antique Jewish ritual objects, as well as modern Jewish art. The term also would include pieces made by Jewish artisans.




A thin oil distilled from petroleum or shale oil, used as a fuel and as a denaturant for alcohol. In very small quantities used as an extender for oil based glazes.


Kaolin clay is a fine pottery clay, collectors best know Kaolin as the only clay used for products made in Limoges France.

To be marked as a Limoges piece, there are two stipulations: the name Limoges can be used on any piece that is made with the Kaolin clay and made in the City of Limoges. In fact, this is the only French law there is regarding markings on the porcelain pieces, anything else can be put on a piece.


The sharp edge found especially on the corner of some cabriole legs, having the profile of the keel of a boat.


The cutting of one side of a piece wood with a number of deep close-set parallel slits so as to bend it.


An organic compound with a carbonyl group attached to two carbon atoms. Usually indicates a strong, fast evaporating solvent.


Precipitation of a dissolved binder from a solution as a result of solvent incompatibility. Can be caused by improper mixing or adding the flow control component to quickly to the mixed system.


A strip or block of wood fixed on the carcass either side just above a drawer (generally a top drawer) to prevent it from tipping downwards when open.

Knuckle Joint

A wooden hinge with a metal pin used to support the gate leg of a drop leaf table.




A coating comprised of a synthetic film forming material which is dissolved in organic solvents and dries by solvent evaporation. The film remains susceptible to attack by the same or similar solvents. Typical lacquers include those based on nitrocellulose, other cellulose derivatives, vinyl resins, acrylic resins, etc. Also a Chinese or Japanese decorative finish of figures in landscape etc. on a ground built up with the sap of the lac tree in black or more rarely in other colors.

Lacquer Thinner

A blend of solvents used to reduce the viscosity of lacquer and/or eliminate blushing.

Lap Marks

Marks left when a coat of dye, stain, or finish, including paint, extends over an adjacent coat that has been allowed to dry too long.

Latex Paint

Water-based paint made with a synthetic binder such as acrylic, vinyl-acrylic, or styrene acrylic latex. (see Polymer)

Laser Welding

A technique used to join or fill metal through the use of a laser. The beam provides a concentrated heat source, allowing for narrow, deep welds and high welding rates.


Contains, by weight, less than 0.5% lead for industrial products and less than 0.6% lead in consumer products.


Leveling leads to uniformity of the surface of the coating. Leveling measures the ability of a wet coating to flow out to a smooth film after application so as to avoid leaving any surface irregularities which have been produced by the mechanical process of applying the film, such as brush marks, roller marks, craters or orange peel from spraying. Also used to describe the process of sanding the surface of a finish flat prior to re-coating or rubbing out.

Leveling agent

Additive which is able to reduce the surface tension under dynamic and static conditions, to obtain an optimal wetting and leveling effect, and to improve the surface flow of the coating. Poor surface flow can induce coating defects such as orange-peel, craters, brush marks, etc..


Softening and raising or wrinkling of a previous coat by the application of an additional coat; often caused by coatings containing strong solvents. This is usually caused by applying strong solvented coating over a curing type coating (curing type coatings include catalyzed lacquer, urethane lacquer, polyurethane and enamels.)


A color/colorant which is not significantly affected by exposure to sunlight.


Application of a white or off-white pigmented stain over sealed wood leaving the pores colored. Colored wax works as well and is reversible.


A relief carved motif popular on panelling from the 16th century, depicting vertical folds of cloth.


English term - A strip of superior timber added to a board, such as a dustboard of inferior timber, where it is most visible.


A bar extending out of a slot to support a table leaf or bureau fall, a leaf support.


A decorative motif of a stylized water lily flower, originally Egyptian but popular circa 1810-1840.

Louis XIV

Circa 1643 to 1715 - Although Louis XIV furniture affected public taste to some extent in the second half of the 17th century, it was never in a general manner adopted throughout France. Louis XIV furniture was too elaborate and costly to be found in the homes of the middle class.

Louis XV

Circa 1720 to 1760 - Louis XV style is virtually a synonym for the term Rococo. The furniture, of which there was an enormous amount produced, was easily adapted to suit the needs of all the different classes, from royal to provincial, and was offering the maximum of comfort.

Louis XVI

Circa 1774 to 1793 - The French Louis XVI style is associated with the Neoclassical style. Louis XVI style advocates simpler, less ornate furniture design. Straight lines and simplicity are the guiding principles of this period. The most typical feature in the constructional details of Louis XVI furniture is the fluted leg and at the end is square box filled with a rosette. The furniture is usually finished in natural wood with mahogany the most commonly used. The style died with Louis XVI when he was executed in 1793.


A decorative semicircle, especially found in carving on oak furniture, used in repeated bands or intersected.



Married Piece

Two pieces put together to make one whole. An example would be attaching a bookcase atop of a desk from two different sources, to make one piece of furniture. Often the difference can't be seen, but sometimes there will be color variations that make the attempt at matching obvious.


Marquetry is the craft of covering a structural carcass with pieces of veneer forming decorative patterns, designs or pictures. The technique may be applied to case furniture or even seat furniture, to decorative small objects with smooth, veneerable surfaces or to freestanding pictorial panels appreciated in their own right. Parquetry is very similar in technique to marquetry in parquetry the pieces of veneer are of simple repeating geometric shapes, forming tiling patterns such as would cover a floor (parquet), or forming basketweave or brickwork patterns, trelliswork and the like.

Marquetry (and parquetry too) differs from the more ancient craft of inlay, in which a solid body of one material is cut out to receive sections of another to form the surface pattern.

Metallic pigment

Pigment consisting of thin opaque aluminum flakes (made by ball milling either a disintegrated aluminum foil or a rough metal powder and then polishing to obtain a flat, brilliant surface on each particle) or copper alloy flakes (known as bronze pigments). Produces silvery and other metal-like effects.


A phenomenon exhibited by a pair of colors which match under one light, but not another. An example can include colors that match indoors in incandescent light and not outdoors in natural sunlight.

Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK)

A low boiling, highly volatile flammable solvent with extremely good solubility for most vinyls, urethanes and other coatings. Also used to re-soften some types of wood putty when you left the lid off to long.

Methylene Chloride (MC)

A chlorinated hydrocarbon (halogenated solvent). Methylene Chloride is one of the oldest and most common solvents used in paint and varnish strippers. It's very effective at removing most finishes and paints, including crosslink cured finishes.

Alkali fortified Methylene Chloride is often used in "marine grade" finish removers. Alkali fortified MC strippers are effective on tougher coatings such as epoxy and polyester. They are more expensive and hazardous to work with so additional care should be taken when using this stripping agent.

Although Methylene Chloride is non-flammable, the finishes it dissolves are flammable. The mixture of Methylene Chloride and old finish can be a fire hazard.



A superficial growth of living organic matter produced by fungi in the presence of moisture; results in discoloration and decomposition of the surface.

Mildew Resistance

The ability of a finish or paint to resist mildew growth on its surface.

Mineral Spirits

A refined petroleum distillate having a low aromatic hydrocarbon content and low solubility; suitable for thinning of alkyd coatings. Paint thinner contains mineral spirits and often a blend of other petroleum distillates.


Circa 1880 to 1915 - Mission style furniture was primarily built from native American oak , that could be varnished but never painted, with leather and canvas, crafted to be simple and useful. There were no unnecessary lines in mission furniture, the tenors often pegged for extra strength or passing right through the mortise as a design element. Gustav Stickley 1858-1942, was the key figure of this era. Stickley ran a chair factory in the 1880s. At the beginning of the 20th century he planned to establish a boarding school for boys in Morris Plains, New Jersey. Most famous in mission furniture is the Stickley chair. The mission style furniture had a general decline after WW1. In recent years, Stickley style has become popular once more.

Moisture Resistance

The ability of a coating to resist swelling, blistering, other damage caused by moisture.


Laminated metals that have been fused or brazed together like a sandwich, and passed through a flat or wire-forming rolling mill to make the material easier to fabricate or raise. The sandwich or "billet" can also be forged without the use of the rolling mill. Patterns are then punched, filed, and hammered to produce a desired pattern.

Mortice and Tenon

Simple and strong, the mortise and tenon joint has been used for millennia by woodworkers around the world to join two pieces of wood, most often at an angle close to 90¡. Although there are many variations on the theme, the basic idea is that end of one of the members is inserted into a hole cut in the other member. The end of the first member is called the tenon, and it is usually narrowed with respect to the rest of the piece. The hole or socket of identical size cut into the other is called the mortise. The joint may be glued, pinned, or wedged to lock it in place.


A pattern composed of a recurring shape or pattern.


Spots of different tones and colors next to each other resulting in a blotchy effect.


Material Safety Data Sheet. An informational document provided by the manufacturer regarding the safety and handling procedures and cautions for materials used in the workplace.




A fast evaporating petroleum distillate solvent used to thin oil-based coatings and to clean up.

Neo Classicism

An architectural and decorative style derived from a new interest in the Classical world which spread through Europe in the second half of the 18th century. Made popular in Britain particularly by Robert Adam (1728-1792) .


Niello is a black metallic alloy of sulfur, copper, silver, and usually lead, used as an inlay on engraved metal. It can be used for filling in designs cut from metal. The Egyptians are credited with originating niello decoration, which spread throughout Europe during the Middle Ages.


Circa 1891 to 1921 - Nippon is a country of origin (Japan) mark and was used on to-be exported porcelain items during that time period.


A liquid which is neither acid nor alkali such as water; pH7.


Color range for faux finishing that consists of off-whites, beiges, or grays that provide a base color.


The primary resin material used in making lacquer.

Non-Drying Oil

An oil which undergoes little or no oxidation when exposed to air and therefore has no film forming properties (mineral oil, paraffin oil, motor oil, etc.)


A compound which does not burn in the presence of a flame.

Non Reactive Finishes (reversible)

Non reactive finishes are reversible surface coating that can be dissolved in its own solvent, for example methylated spirits will reverse or dissolve standard shellac finishes such as French Polish. Cellulose thinners will reverse nitrocellulose finishes, and turpentine will reverse wax or oil finishes. Reversible finishes include shellac, French polishes, nitrocellulose lacquers including sealers, clear and pigmented, wax and some oil finishes.


The solid portion of a coating consisting of pigment and binder. It's the portion of the coating left on the surface after it's dry (solids content).



Occupied Japan

Mark stamped on items produced during the US occupation of Japan which lasted from the summer of 1945 through Spring 1952.


An elongated octagonal shape, similar to a rectangle with chamfered corners.


The ogee shape is one of the characteristics of the Gothic style of architecture, especially decorative elements in the 14th and 15th century late Gothic styles called Flamboyant in France and Decorated in England. Ogee windows and arches were introduced to European cities from the Middle East. The ogee curve is an analogue of a "cyma curve", the difference being that a cyma has horizontal rather than vertical ends. An alternative name for ogee is "cyma reversa". Also used of bracket feet of this three-dimensional profile on mid-18th century cabinet furniture and clock cases.


Generally, finishing products (e.g., stains, clear coats, and paints) made with a drying oil, such as linseed, soya, or tung oil as the vehicle and binder, and mineral spirits/paint thinner or naphtha as the thinning agent.

Also used to describe a class of stains based on fast drying alkyd binders that are reducible with mineral spirits or naphtha.

Oil Gilding

Oil gilding or Mordant gilding requires that the surface be completely sealed and then a size (oil varnish or acrylic) is applied. After a period of time the size comes to tack. At that point the gold leaf is laid on the tacky surface This technique does not allow the leaf to be burnished, and thus does not provide the brilliant finish of water gilding. Oil gilding allows gilding on a wider variety of surfaces than water gilding, and is the technique used for exterior gilding projects such as signs and architectural gilding.


An abbreviation for "One Of a Kind". Typically is used when referring to works of art by artist/crafters, often times by doll and teddy bear crafters.


The ability of a paint film to obliterate or hide the color of the surface to which it is applied. A paint with a high opacity will hide the substrate well. The opposite of transparent.


Finishes that obscure the surface being coated. Includes a wide range of brushable and sprayable paints and some exterior stains.

Open Time

The length of time a coating remains wet enough to allow for brushing-in without lapping.

Orange Peel

Dimpled, bumpy, or wavy surface of a film similar in appearance to the skin of an orange. Usually caused by spraying in high heat, draft or a material that is too thick or heavy in viscosity resulting in poor leveling. A common defect in both spray and roll applied coatings. For some coating appliances, an orange peel effect may be desirable.


Designation of any chemical compound containing carbon.


French or moulu, signifying gold ground or pounded, is an 18th-century English term for applying finely ground, high-karat gold in a mercury amalgam to an object of bronze. The mercury is driven off in a kiln. The French refer to this technique as bronze doré, in English gilt bronze.

The manufacture of true ormolu employs a process known as mercury-gilding or fire-gilding, in which a solution of nitrate of mercury is applied to a piece of copper, brass, or bronze, followed by the application of an amalgam of gold and mercury. The item was then exposed to extreme heat until the mercury burned off and the gold remained, adhered to the metal object. Most mercury gilders died by the age of 40 due to exposure to the harmful mercury fumes. Mercury gilding was outlawed from the 19th (in France) or 20th centuries because of its health risks, and electroplating is the commonest modern technique. Ormolu techniques are essentially the same as those used on silver, to produce silver-gilt (also known as vermeil).

A later substitute of a mixture of metals resembling ormolu was developed in France and called pomponne, though, confusingly, the mix of copper and zinc, sometimes with an addition of tin, is technically a type of brass. From the 19th century the term has been popularized to refer to gilt metal or imitation gold. Gilt-bronze is found from antiquity onwards across Eurasia, but especially in Chinese art, where it was always more common than silver-gilt, the opposite of Europe.


The diffusion of liquid through a paint film or other such membrane.

Outset Corner

A circular or square projection beyond the line of the sides of a table top etc. See also architrave.


Sprayed coating that is dry when it hits the surface resulting in dusty, granular adhering particles, reducing gloss and presenting a poor appearance.

Ovolo moulding

A sunk convex moulding of quadrant profile, used especially at the corners of panels etc.


A chemical reaction with oxygen. The formation of an oxide; the curing mechanisms for alkyds.

Oxidative Polymerization

Mechanism of drying unsaturated binders (cooked oils, alkyds etc.) in relatively thin films in the presence of atmospheric oxygen, initiated and catalyzed by driers.


Veneers cut across the grain of small branches of trees such as walnut, olive and laburnum, and laid decoratively. Popular circa 1700.




Paint is a term used to describe a number of substances that consist of a pigment suspended in a liquid or paste vehicle such as oil or water. With a brush, a roller, or a spray gun, paint is applied in a thin coat to various surfaces such as wood, metal, or stone. Although its primary purpose is to protect the surface to which it is applied, paint also provides decoration.


A Classical ornament based on a stylized palm leaf with out curved fronds (anthemion).

Papier mâché

A durable and malleable material made from paper or cardboard and glue size, popular in the 18th and l9th centuries for architectural moldings, boxes and smaller items of furniture. Also known as Carton pierre (French)

Paraffin Wax

A mineral wax made from paraffin oil, it is a cheap soft clear white wax used usually in combination with other waxes to produce a soft polish for use on furniture and flooring.


A relief carved motif on panelling from the 16th century, based on two addorsed ogee-shaped moldings.


A mosaic of wood used for ornamental flooring. (French parqueterie, from parquet.) The large diagonal squares known as parquet de Versailles were introduced there in 1684, as parquet de menuiserie ("woodwork parquet"), to replace the marble flooring that required constant washing, which tended to rot the joists beneath the floors. Such parquets en lozange were noted by the Swedish architect Daniel Cronstr$#246;m at Versaillles and at the Grand Trianon in 1693.

Paste Wood Filling

Wood grain fillers are usually made up from some combination of the following ingredients.

  1. Filling powders such as plaster of paris, chalk, or ground silica.
  2. Extender powders to provide texture such as china clay.
  3. A binder which can be drying oil or resin based.
  4. A coloring agent, dye or stain.
  5. Oil or spirit solvent medium or water based

There are two main types of wood grain filling materials they are the Oil bound fillers and Resin bound. Oil bound fillers use a binding agent such as linseed oil, turpentine, white spirit, or other synthetic oils, known as patent fillers they are easy to apply but are slow to dry.

Resin bound fillers are used when a quick drying cycle is required and are mainly used under catalyzed lacquers, they are very stable with good adhesion properties, however they are not recommended for use under polyester or polyurethane lacquers.


Patina can mean three things, 1. The fine scratches on an object that have developed over time from handling and polishing, 2. The natural darkening that is seen in the recesses of ornamental pieces and engraving, 3. A factory-applied chemical used to darken the recesses of a design to enhance its details and give it a three-dimensional look.

Patinate / Repatinate

To apply or reapply a chemical to darken the recesses on ornamental pieces and engraving that had naturally developed over time. This process is sometimes applied to objects that have had their darkening removed from dishwashers or chemical strippers such as Tarn-X.


Shape of stream of material coming from a spray gun. Also the sequence of spraying various items to maintain a wet edge and avoid overspray.


French piedestal, Italian piedistallo, foot of a stall - is a term generally applied to the support of a statue or a vase. Also used for the cupboards flanking a serving table in a dinning room.


A Classical gable of low pitch, used as a cresting on mirrors or cabinets. A classical architectural element consisting of the triangular section found above the horizontal structure (entablature), typically supported by columns. The gable end of the pediment is surrounded by the cornice moulding. The tympanum, or triangular area within the pediment, was often decorated with sculptures and reliefs demonstrating scenes of Greek and Roman mythology or allegorical figures suitable to the nature of the building being adorned.


A film of coating lifting from the surface due to poor adhesion.


Peg Foot

A slender turned foot used on cabinet furniture in the late 18th/early l9th century.

Penetrating Finish

A coating that is absorbed into the substrate rather than forming a film on its surface. Drying oils are penetrating finishes.

Pennsylvania Dutch

Circa 1720 to 1830 - An English style of furniture, which is medieval in appearance with straight lines, rigid designs, sturdy construction, ornate carvings and a dark finish. Much of the early American furniture was patterned after this style.

Percent Solids

Percentage mass of non-liquid components in coatings.


The degree to which a membrane or coating film will allow the passage or penetration of a liquid or gas.


A measure of acidity and alkalinity; pH from 1-6 is considered acid, 7 is neutral and pH 8 or above is considered alkali.

Phenolic Resin

Thermosetting synthetic resin produced by the condensation of phenol with an aldehyde (e.g., formaldehyde). Provides very good heat and water resistance.


A photoinitiator is a compound that, under absorption of light, undergoes a photoreaction, producing reactive species. These species are capable of initiating the polymerization of the polymerizable constituents within the coating. The latter are capable of initiating or catalyzing chemical reactions, which result in significant changes in the solubility and physical properties of suitable formulations. Hence, the photoinitiator is a compound transforming the physical energy of light into suitable chemical energy in the form of reactive intermediates.

Most commonly, these changes are achieved by polymerization or polycondensation reactions. When initiated with a photoinitiator and light, this process is called photopolymerization or radiation curing. It transforms a liquid and soluble formulation into a hard and insoluble crosslinked polymer network. The cured coating is chemically and physically resistant and can give both protection and decoration of the substrate whether plastics, wood or metal.


Application of a white, off-white, or pastel pigmented stain on bare wood leaving as little or as much color as desired. Thinned paints work very well.


The usual term for the shaped moulded edge of a circular tripod table top or tray from the mid 18th century, with alternating serpentine, curved and incurved sections, copying the shape of the early silver salvers.


A finely ground natural or synthetic, insoluble particle adding color and opacity or corrosion inhibition to a coating film.


A flat column, usually of a classical order, used decoratively in low relief.


A film defect characterized by small, pore-like flaws in a coating which extend entirely through the film.

Pitched Top

Generally of a lid, where four sloping or hipped sides rise to a ridge or flat center. Called Pyramidal where the slopes meet at a point.


Properly the low square block supporting a Classical column, but also used of the solid board on which some case furniture rests instead of feet (pedestal).


Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA)

As an emulsion in water, PVAc emulsions are the adhesives for porous materials, particularly for wood, paper, and cloth. As wood glue PVAc is known as "white glue" and the yellow "carpenter's glue" or PVA glue.


The act of hammering or refining the surface of a metal object with highly polished hammer faces. This process refines the surface after raising and may be used as a decorative element. Great care must be used, for even a speck of dust will make an impression in the metal being hammered.


An agent added to the resin to aid in flexibility. Compounding material used to enhance the deformability of a paint, varnish or lacquer. A plasticizer is soluble in the polymer and decreases the glass transition temperature (Tg) value, softens and adds flexibility to the product.


The process of refining a metal surface by use of abrasive compounds applied by hand or a polishing wheel attached to a long-spindled motorized arbor which runs at high speed. Various finishes may be obtained with a wide variety of abrasive compounds applied to the polishing wheels such as rougeâ this compound imparts the brightest finish. More abrasive compounds will produce less reflective finishes, emphasizing the object's form.

Polyester Resin

A group of synthetic resins which contain repeating ester groups. A special type of modified alkyd resin. Polyester finishes are among the most durable.


Large organic molecule formed by combining many smaller molecules (monomers) in a regular pattern. Plastic-like material produced from chemical "monomers" which in turn have been produced from alcohols and petrochemicals. Certain polymers are used in waterborne finishes and paints. The binder's polymer particles are small and carried in water. The binder polymer particles and water mixture is known as an emulsion or as "latex".


A chemical reaction in which two or more small molecules combine to form large molecules containing repeated structural units.



An exceptionally hard, wear resistant coating polymer made by the reaction of polyols with a multi-functional isocyanate. Provides toughness, flexibility, weather resistance, chemical resistance, and abrasion resistance to the coating film. Commonly used to make topcoats.


A bolt with a rounded or decorative head which passes through a drawer front etc. and secures a bail handle etc.


The presence of numerous minute voids in a cured material.

Post-cure reaction

Crosslinking reaction which occurs in cured coating due to the presence of an excess of a hardener. Can cause coating defects such as internal stress, decreasing adhesion durability and flexibility.


A low shelf under a dresser or buffet on which flagons and pots were kept.

Pot Life

The length of time a coating material is useful after its original package is opened or a catalyst or other curing agent is added. As mixed material reacts in the pot, the viscosity always increases.


A granular or sanded ground found on early 18th century gesso furniture, in contrast to a Punched or Pitted ground also used for texture at the time.

Powder coating

100% solid coating generally applied by an electrostatic process as a fine, dry powder to the surface and then heated above its melting point so the powder particles flow together or cure.


The protection of cultural property through activities that minimize chemical and physical deterioration and damage and that prevent loss of informational content. The primary goal of preservation is to prolong the existence of cultural property.

Preventive Care

Also referred to as preventive conservation. The mitigation of deterioration and damage to cultural property through the formulation and implementation of policies and procedures for the following appropriate environmental conditions; handling and maintenance procedures for storage, exhibition, packing, transport, and use; integrated pest management; emergency preparedness and response; and reformatting/duplication.

Primary Colors

Colors that cannot be produced by mixing any two other colors. They are red, yellow, and blue.



The first complete coat of paint applied in a painting system. Many primers are designed to provide adequate adhesion between the surface and subsequent topcoats. Most primers contain some pigment, some lend uniformity to the topcoat, some inhibit corrosion or the substrate, and some stop the discoloration of the topcoat.


A priming system that minimizes or prevents the penetration of the topcoat into the substrate.

Print Resistance

The ability of a coating to avoid pressed-in markings from an object placed on it.


Documentation of the ownership and history of an item, often used when authenticating an antique, signed document and paintings. Many times the value of an item will greatly increase when the provenance can be documented.


A winged cherub. Amorini, Italian, is also used.


The art of decorating wood or other materials with burn marks resulting from the controlled application of a heated object such as a poker. It is also known as pokerwork or wood burning.

Pyrography means "writing with fire" and is the traditional art of using a heated tip or wire to burn or scorch designs onto natural materials such as wood or leather. Burning can be done by means of a modern solid-point tool (similar to a soldering iron) or hot wire tool, or a more basic method using a metal implement heated in a fire, or even sunlight concentrated with a magnifying lens.


Quadrant Hinge

A hinge with two long arms rotating on a short pin, often used at the top and bottom of a cabinet door, or in similar form on a card table flap or fall-front.

Quarter Sawn

The cutting of a log radially to achieve maximum figure and stability. Quarter Sawn lumber possess advantages over plain sawn lumber because of the orientation of the growth rings. Because the growth rings in quarter-sawn wood run uniformly parallel along the entire board the wood does not shrink and expand with seasonal variation in moisture as much as flat sawn wood. In addition because of the orientation of the growth rings, quarter-sawn wood is less prone to shrinkage, twisting, cupping and in many cases rot because sap wood is easier to isolate in manufacturing process.


Four matching figured sheets of veneer laid to produce a symmetrical design. Found particularly on early 18th century walnut furniture.

Queen Anne (American Style)

Circa 1725 to 1755 - By 1720, certain stylistic changes in American furniture were taking place. Transitional forms between the William and Mary and Queen Anne styles appeared at that time, and the new style was firmly established by about 1725. The introduction of the fluid, curving line represented the fundamental stylistic change during this period. These curves were based on a scroll-like element first seen in French decorative art in about 1700 and was now expressed in the rounded cabriole leg, curved cresting piece, vase-shaped splat, and shell carving. Some of these innovations carried over into the Chippendale period.

The cabriole leg was introduced as a Baroque element in English furniture during the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714) and remained until about 1760. The full French Rococo style was marked in England by 1750 by a more delicate cabriole leg.


An accelerated testing device designed to evaluate the fading properties of a coating by exposure to high intensity, ultraviolet light.



Rabbit-skin Glue

Rabbit-skin glue is a sizing that also acts as an adhesive. It is essentially refined rabbit collagen, and was originally used as an ingredient in traditional gesso.

As an adhesive, Rabbit-skin glue is used in the production of the bellows of concertinas, and in other smaller, light instruments-- prominently in violins. It's supreme advantages are very, very fast bonding; and easy debonding with hot water if an instrument must be disassembled for internal repairs. It also has very low creep, which is the tendency of some glues to plastically yield under even low but consistent stresses over time.


A horizontal framing member in joinery, such as a seat-rail, back rail etc.


The technique of forming a flat sheet of metal over a cast iron T-stake or head, forming and compressing the metal to take a hollow form. This labor-intensive process is the purest form of silversmithing.


The inclination or slope from vertical, for example of a chair back or splay.

Rebate - rabbit

A right-angled recess cut in the edge of a piece of wood, or formed by two pieces, to house another piece such as a panel or drop-in seat.

Re-coat Time

Interval required between the application of successive coats of finish. This time period is usually listed on the label. The actual time may vary from the manufacturer's guideline in cases where the temperature is well above or below 70 degrees and the humidity is higher than 50%.

Reactive Finishes

Reactive finishes are surface coatings that polymerize (a chemical reaction) after the solvents evaporate. The following finishes cannot be reversed or re-melted with the solvent used to apply them; Resin Oil Varnishes and Oil based paints, pre and post Catalyzed Cellulose Lacquers, Acid-Catalyzed Cellulose Lacquers, Polyurethane Catalyzed Cellulose Lacquers, Polyesters, epoxy finishes and some oils like boiled linseed oil and tung oil.


To add solvent in order to thin a material to a workable thickness (viscosity).


Commonly known as thinner.


Repeated half-round convex moldings used especially round pillars or legs and sometimes in flutes.


The ratio of the light that radiates onto a surface to the amount that is reflected back.

Relative Humidity

The ratio, expressed as a percent, of the quantity of water vapor actually present in the air to the greatest amount possible at a given temperature.


A technique used to roughly emboss a metal object with ornament from the back or inside with larger punches than those used in chasing. This process does not remove metal, but reshapes it.


Solid, semi-solid or pseudo-solid organic material which has an indefinite and often high molecular weight. Exhibits a tendency to flow when subject to stress. Can be natural or synthetic. Used as the binder and/or film forming agent in finishing products.



Treatment procedures intended to return cultural property to a known or assumed state, often through the addition of nonoriginal material.


Solvent added to a coating to slow down its evaporation rate.


A repeated decoration of small-scale reeds, often used in flat panels or bands.


A repeated Classical decoration composed of a band of acanthus scrolls, curling in opposing directions.

Robert Adam

Circa 1760 to 1795 - This style is named for architect Robert Adam who studied ancient architecture in Italy. While in England, he designed furniture with classical details that would fit the character of his classically designed homes. The Adam style was limitedly reproduced by cabinetmakers in the United States. Adam interior millwork and woodwork was reproduced in South Carolina.

Rococo Revival

Circa 1845 to 1900 - The Rococo Revival or "French Antique" style was popular in Paris and London as early as 1840; numerous design books illustrating it appeared in both cities and were circulated in America. From the 1840s through the end of the century, Rococo was the most popular furniture style in the United States. (Indeed, Rococo furniture has never ceased being made, and some factories still produce versions of it today.) Its inspiration was the style of the court of Louis XV, and its chief features included the cabriole leg, shell and other fanciful carvings, curved surfaces, and a profuse use of delicate S- and C-scrolls. Since the curved line had never totally disappeared from the design repertory, Rococo was, in a sense, an exaggeration of previous styles. Nevertheless, it is not difficult to distinguish this 19th-century style from its 18th-century antecedent: lines tend to become heavier, the cabriole leg is less delicate (sometimes terminating in an S-scroll toe); and the rear leg is chamfered at its base to give a sense of solidity. Heaviness is also evident in the elaborate scrolls that display the naturalistic carving of birds, fruit, flowers, and so on.

The cost of Rococo furniture depended on the amount of carving on the piece; the least expensive was the simple "finger-rolled" carving. Walnut was a popular wood for inexpensive pieces of Rococo furniture, while rosewood was reserved for the more costly. The Industrial Revolution made it possible to produce furniture of this type, including even the carving, completely by machine, and the most popular forms were the parlor sets, which included a sofa and arm and side chairs.

The most common chair form was the side chair with a "balloon back", named for its resemblance to the shape of a hot-air balloon. A variant of the balloon back had upholstery stretched over the wooden frame, and the form was sometimes expanded to create a triple-crested sofa with deep and undulating lines, a unique creation of 19th-century design.

The most famous cabinetmaker associated with the American Rococo Revival style was John Henry Belter (1804-1863).


A cylinder covered with lamb's wood, felt, foamed plastics or other materials used for applying paint.

Rolling Mill

A hand or motor-driven cast iron mill with polished or patterned hardened steel rollers that reduce the thickness or impart a texture on metal sheet or wire. Functions like a hand cranked clothes ringer.


A circular applied or inlaid decorative motif (patera, boss)

Rubbing Out

The process of flatting or smoothing the surface of a cured finish coating, by hand or hand held power equipment, using various grits of fine sandpaper and other rubbing compounds to achieve a pleasant look and feel. This process eliminates surface defects in the final finish and is used to achieve a desired sheen.

Rule Joint

A stopped hinged joint used on table leaves, press doors etc., involving a long ovolo moulding which leaves no gap.


The strips of wood fixed to either side of the cabinet on which a drawer runs.


Sagging and curtaining of a coating or paint film, usually caused by improper thinning, excessive film build or poor application techniques.



Sabot - hoof

A cast brass or ormolu foot mount used on furniture in French taste.

Sag - Sagging

Narrow (or wide curtain-like) downward movement of a film finish; may be caused by the application of too much coating, the collection of excess quantities of finish at irregularities in the surface (cracks, holes, etc.), or excessive material continuing to flow after the surrounding surface has set. Also referred to as runs or tears.

Sag Resistance

The ability of a coating to be applied at proper film thicknesses without sagging.


Ease of sanding of a coating.

Sanding Sealer

Especially hard first coat that can seal and fill, but will not obscure, the grain of the wood. Formulated to give better filling and sandability than the topcoat products. The surface is then sanded before subsequent coats are applied.


Satin Finish

Sheen of coating with a 60 degree gloss reading between 10 and 40.


A colored composition of plaster and marble chips etc. used to imitate marble and sometimes pictorially, especially on table tops in 17th century Italy.


The shape of a scallop shell, with a lobed or foiled edge.

Scandinavian (Contemporary)

Circa 1960 to 1990 - A simple utilitarian design style in natural wood popularized by Danish and Swedish designers. Also known as Scan Furniture.

Scratch Brush

A long-spindled motorized arbor using fine wire wheels rotating at slow speed, burnishing the surface of a metal object after soldering. Soapy water is used as a lubricant between the wheel and object. May also be used as a texturing wheel to soften the luster of metal.

Scratch Resistance

Ability of a coating surface to resist to damage caused by sharp and hard objects. Influenced by the hardness, the coefficient of friction and the thickness of the film.

Scuff Sand

To lightly sand in order to remove the shine or roughness of a surface prior to recoating.

Secondary Colors

Colors formed by mixing together two primary colors. They are orange, green, and purple.



A coating used on absorbent surfaces prior to topcoats.


A finish with a sheen level between high gloss and satin (or eggshell).


A convex curve flanked by two concave curves: the sinuous shape used in a horizontal plane on better furniture of the Rococo period (bombe).


The sinking of pigments, extenders, flatteners or other solid matter in a coating/paint, on standing in a container, with a consequent accumulation on the bottom of the can.


A shade is created when black is added to a color. It is a darker variant of a color.

Shading Stain

A shading stain is a dye and/or pigmented colorant added to a thinned clear film forming finish used to add coloring in specific areas on a piece being finish. Shading can be used to accentuate a design feature, increase the color intensity, alter the existing color, or to blend and uniform areas on the piece.


Circa 1760 to 1800 - The furniture created by this religious sect, made a significant contribution to American design. The founders of this group came to America from England in 1774 and by the early 19th century had established settlements in various parts of New England, New York, Kentucky, and Ohio. Within these communities, they created a distinct type of furniture - functional, devoid of all ornamentation, and revealing graceful and delicately constructed lines and proportions. Although this design is often considered unique, analysis reveals the influence of Neoclassical lines, proportions, and overall delicacy. Shaker furniture continued to be made into the 20th century, and later pieces were affected by other 19th-century revival styles.

Shelf Life

Period of time during which a finishing product stored according to the manufacturer's instructions (packaging, temperature, humidity) retains its expected properties.


Alcohol-soluble resin derived from lac available in a variety of grades/colors. Lac is a substance secreted by insects on tree branches, mainly in India. Used as a sealer for sealing knots, a clear finish, and in "alcohol-based" primers. The thinner is denatured alcohol.


Shoe or Shoe-piece

A shaped horizontal bar used on many 18th century chairs, fitted round the bottom of the splat over the upholstery and tacked through into the back rail.


Circa 1751 to 1806 - Sheraton style furniture was remarkable for its refined elegance, excellent proportions and balanced distribution of ornaments. It also mirrored the influence of Robert Adam and the Louis XVI style, which Thomas Sheraton greatly admired.

Curved lines were to a great extend abandoned, in favor for the straight line, and his designs were essentially rectangular with emphasis on the vertical lines. However, Thomas Sheraton still showed a preference for curved lines in his glazing bars and oval panels.

His later designs incorporated certain features of the French Directoire and French Empire styles. Some of the drawings in the Directoire taste frequently had many pleasing qualities but they did not match the high level of design found in his early work.

Silicone Resins

Resins based on silicone instead of carbon, generally used for their outstanding heat resistance and water repellency.


One who fashions silver objects and wrought items such as forged flatware. The first silversmiths who settled in this country set up our banking system and produced its first coinage.


The hammering of a flat piece of metal into a concave hemispherical shape in the top of a tree stump or any dished form. A small bowl shape is formed in the center of the sheet producing a lip, enabling the piece to "ride" the end of a raising stake, aiding in the raising process.


The embossing from underneath or inside an object with a long-armed steel tool, with one end placed in a vise. Snarling is accomplished by placing a form over the snarling iron's tip (which may be any shape) and tapping the back end of the arm which is secured in the vise. The vertical vibration that results gives a "kick," raising a bump on the outside of the object. This technique is usually used in conjunction with chasing.


The group of trees (fir, pine, spruce, hemlock) characterized by its needles and being for the most part evergreen or conifers (cone-bearing seed plants). The term does not refer to the density or hardness of the wood, only its classification.



A process in which two or more metal items are joined together adhesively, by melting and flowing a filler metal into the joint, the filler metal having a relatively low melting point. Soft soldering is characterized by the melting point of the filler metal, which is below 800°F. The filler metal used in the process is called solder. Soldering is distinguished from brazing by use of a lower melting-temperature filler metal; it is distinguished from welding by the base metals not being melted during the joining process. In a soldering process, heat is applied to the parts to be joined, causing the solder to melt and be drawn into the joint by capillary action and to bond to the materials to be joined by wetting action. After the metal cools, the resulting joints are not as strong as the base metal, but have adequate strength, electrical conductivity, and water-tightness for many uses. This technique does not possess the strength of brazing solders when joining higher temperature metals such as silver.

Solids Content

Non-volatile matter in the composition of a coating. The ingredients in a coating that, after drying, constitute the dry film. Solids are composed mostly of binder and pigment (in paints).


The ability of a material to be dissolved in a liquid For example, sugar is soluble in water.


A solvent is a liquid that dissolves another substance to form a solution (a homogeneous mixture). The material dissolved in the solvent is called the solute. Together, the solvent and solute comprise the solution. The solvent is the component in the solution that is present in the largest amount or is the one that determines the state of matter (i.e. solid, liquid, gas) of the solution. Solvents are usually, but not always, liquids. They can also be gases or solids. Solvents can dissolve solids, liquids or gases. Water is a solvent. Every day, people dissolve soap in water creating a soap solution. Different classes of solvents dissolve different substances more readily. For example, some oils readily dissolve in mineral spirits, but not in water.


Solvent Entrapment

The encapsulation of solvent within a cured coating film due to improper drying conditions; results in a non-continuous film.

Spade Foot

A square tapered or "thermed" foot, generally used in late 18th century on a tapered leg.


The triangle space formed between the curve of an arch and its square framing. Without the arch, the shape is that of a Bracket.

Spar Varnish

Exterior varnish with good water resistance and the capability to resist weathering. Named for its original use on the spars of ships.


A set of instructions detailing the plan for coating of a project; a list of criteria for a coating.


A slender turned baluster, often decoratively used in rows.

Spinning (metal)

Spinning, a technique that originated in the early 19th century, can be used for most metals. A metal disk is set on a lathe behind an appropriately shaped metal or wooden chuck, and during rotation the metal is pressed onto the chuck with long-handled, polished steel tools. Britannia metal was often spun; a typical, modern spun object is the aluminum saucepan. As in most metalworking techniques, the metal is periodically softened by annealing, or heating, when it has become hardened through being worked.

Spring Hammer

A 5' cast iron beam supporting a long-handled, highly-polished pivoting hammer with a 3" diameter face. The hammer is mounted on a spring mechanism allowing the hammer head to bounce off a highly polished adjustable anvil used to flatten the bottoms of trays and anything else that requires a perfectly flat surface. The spring hammer head bounces off the anvil perfectly flat, avoiding a costly crescent-shaped miss-hit of a hand-held hammer head's edge.

Spiral Twist

The turning of a leg or column etc. in the form of a screw thread.


A vertical board, usually flat with shaped sides and often pierced or carved, used in the back of a chair between the top and seat rails .


The technique of spraying a thin coating of paint onto an object by pulling a finger through the bristles of a stiff brush. Often used to to produce "fly specks".


Originally of a window recess or reveal: the angled taper of the sides. When curved, this is termed flared.

Spoon Back

A l9th century chair whose back resembles the bowl of a spoon.

Spray Head

The combination of needle, tip and air cap.

Spray Pattern

The configuration of coating sprayed on the surface.

Spread Rate

Coverage, usually at the specified dry film thickness.


Treatment procedures intended to maintain the integrity of cultural property and to minimize or arrest deterioration.


A partly transparent coating that can color wood without obscuring the grain and/or the texture. May also refer to materials that soil the surface.

Stain Bleed-through

Tannin, found in certain types of wood such as oak, cedar, or redwood, can migrate through the coating, causing discoloration. Knots in pine can also bleed through painted surfaces.


Stain Resistance

The ability of a coating to resist soiling.


Any polished cast iron or steel tool placed in a vise and is used for forming and planishing metal over. This tool is generally large enough to be used without a horse.

Stiff Leaf

A Gothic carved motif or curled acanthus leaves, used on capitals etc.


A subsidiary vertical framing member in joinery (muntin).


The process of applying a repeating pattern onto a surface. A design is cut into a stiff card, called the stencil, and this is then positioned onto the surface to be decorated. Using a stencil brush, paint is then pushed through the stencil patterns The stencil is then carefully lifted away and repositioned so that the pattern can be repeated.


The front of a cabinet or chest that is flat and not recessed (breakfront).


A symmetrical ornament of flat interlaced bands or ribbons, of Northern Renaissance origin.


A horizontal member or rail which connects and braces legs, sometimes used decoratively, such as a cross-stretcher or arched stretcher.


A thin decorative inlaid line of brass or contrasting wood, generally in veneer.


The process of removing old paint and varnish by using a chemical paint remover, sandpaper, heat gun, or scraping tools.

Strong Solvent

Any solvent capable of dissolving large quantities of a specified subject.


A layer that lies underneath another, such as a surface to which a veneer, coating or sealant is applied. The core material of a laminated product.

All wood materials, including OSB, plywood, hard and soft woods, are subject to expansion, contraction, bending, and deflection as a result of changes in moisture content and loading. Further, these deformations fluctuate over the life of the material. It is important to "balance" a substrate by laminating or sealing both sides to help prevent deformations.

Surface Conditioner

Molecular, or more frequently, micro-phase surface modifying coatings additives such as fine particle size waxes designed for use in coatings to impart improved mechanical, optical, and electrical surface properties to organic coatings. They enhance their anti-blocking properties, scratch and mar resistance, and impart water-repellency. Surface conditioners are widely used in wood coatings to improve the blocking resistance and sandability, scratch and abrasion resistance, matting and soft surface feel.

Surface Defects

Defects that occur during and immediately after application of a finish and which have a negative influence on both the coating appearance and performance. Surface defects may result from a number of causes, including poor substrate wetting, insufficient flow, surface distortion associated with solvent evaporation and surface cooling, foaming and air entrapment, and contamination of the finish, air or substrate.

Surface Preparation

Any means for preparing a surface for finishing including cleaning, grain-raising, sanding, filling, and spot priming.


Pigmented composition for filling depressions in order to obtain a smooth, uniform surface before applying the finish coat.



A relatively coarse, non-colloidal dispersion of solid particles in a liquid.


An ornamental garland or festoon of flowers and foliage, or of drapery, suspended from both ends.


Manufactured, as opposed to naturally occurring.



Table Clip or Fork

A two-pronged, generally brass, clip which slides into sockets to link two table leaves. Other similar methods were patented.

Tack Cloth

A fabric impregnated with a tacky substance that is used to remove dust from a surface after sanding or rubbing down, and prior to further topcoats. It should be stored in an airtight container to preserve its tackiness.

Tack free

Completion of the initial cure process of a coating. Airborne dust and soil will no longer be trapped in the coating.


The stage in the finish's drying process at which the film is sticky when lightly touched.

Tape Time

The drying time of a coating required prior to masking sections for lettering or striping after which tape will not distort the finish.


Revealing of the substrate surface profile through the coating after cure. Commonly caused by not using a filler or primer.


A flat canopy, especially over a bed.



Resin that will undergo or has undergone a chemical reaction by the action of heat, catalysts, ultra-violet light, etc., leading to a relatively infusible state. Typical of the plastics in the thermosetting family are the aminos, polyesters, alkyds, epoxies (not all), and phenolics.


A liquid that, along with the binder, forms the finish's vehicle. The thinner evaporates after the finish is applied. The liquid used to thin the coating.

Toluene - Tylol

An aromatic solvent with a high boiling range and low flash point classified as a strong solvent.

Toning - Toner

A thin coat of finish that has dye or pigments mixed in that is sandwiched between clear coats.

Tongue and Groove

Sometimes referred to as T&G, is a method of fitting similar objects together, edge to edge, used mainly with wood: flooring, parquetry, panelling, etc. Before plywood became more common, tongue and groove boards were also used for sheathing buildings.

Each piece has a slot (the groove) cut all along one edge, and a thin, deep ridge (the tongue) on the opposite edge. The tongue projects a little less than the groove is deep. Two or more pieces thus fit together closely. Such a joint should not be glued as shrinkage would pull the tongue off. The tongue and groove could be cut in a number of ways.


In a dry film, a fine texture imparted either by a proportion of relatively coarse or abrasive pigment, or by the abrasives used in sanding; this texture improves the burnish properties and also provides a good base for the adhesion of a subsequent coat of the finish.


The clear protective coats of finish applied to a surface.


Touch up

To repair misses, mars, scratches and places where the coating has deteriorated or been damaged, in order to restore the finish.

Tongue and Groove

Sometimes referred to as T&G, is a method of fitting similar objects together, edge to edge, used mainly with wood: flooring, parquetry, panelling, etc. Before plywood became more common, tongue and groove boards were also used for sheathing buildings.

Each piece has a slot (the groove) cut all along one edge, and a thin, deep ridge (the tongue) on the opposite edge. The tongue projects a little less than the groove is deep. Two or more pieces thus fit together closely. Such a joint should not be glued as shrinkage would pull the tongue off. The tongue and groove could be cut in a number of ways.


Pierced or blind decoration with Gothic detail derived particularly from windows.


Clear enough to see through.


Allows light to pass through but not clear enough to see through.


The deliberate alteration of the chemical and/or physical aspects of cultural property, aimed primarily at prolonging its existence. Treatment may consist of stabilization and/or restoration.


A Gothic motif of three cusped arcs or lobes.

Trifid Foot

A club foot generally found on a cabriole leg formed into three parts, sometimes with foliate decoration.

Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)


A Classical motif of superimposed thematic emblems such as military or musical.

A cleaning compound based on an alkaline material. Because it contains phosphate, its use is controlled in certain geographical areas.


Circa 1485 to 1585 - The Tudor period is generally accepted as the reign of Henry VIII through the reign of Elizabeth I of England. Tudor furniture was typically massive, heavily carved, and influenced by Italian Renaissance furniture. The foregoing Gothic style contributed its straight lines to this period as well.

Tunbridge Work

A small-scale mosaic of various colored woods used geometrically or pictorially, popular in the 19th century.

Tung Oil

Tung oil, also known as China Wood Oil, is derived from the seeds of several species of Aleurites, primarily Aleurites fordii, a deciduous shade tree native to China. It belongs to the Euphorbia Family (Euphorbiaceae) along with the candlenut tree (A. molucanna), another species with seeds rich in unsaturated oils. For centuries tung oil has been used for paints and waterproof coatings, and as a component of caulk and mortar. It is an ingredient in "India ink" and is commonly used for a lustrous finish on wood. In fact, the "teak oil" sold for fine furniture is usually refined tung oil. Some woodworkers consider tung oil to be one of the best natural finishes for wood. Other unsaturated plant oils, such as castor oil and linseed oil, take longer to dry and leave an oily residue until they soak into the wood surface. Tung oil 's ability to dry quickly and polymerize into a tough, glossy, waterproof coating has made it especially valuable in paints, varnishes, linoleum, oilcloth and printing inks.

The oil-rich seeds are the source of tung oil, which is composed primarily of eleostearic (elaeostearic) acid, with smaller amounts of oleic, linoleic and palmitic glycerides. Eleostearic acid is a crystalline unsaturated fatty acid that exists in 2 stereoisomeric forms An alpha acid occurring as the glycerol ester especially in tung oil, and a beta acid obtained from the alpha acid by irradiation (9, 11, 13-octadecatrienoic acid).




The coat applied to the surface after preparation and before the application of a finish coat (usually used in metal finishing).

Ultraviolet Radiation (UV)

The portion of the radiant energy of the sun's spectrum that causes damage to coatings and sealants and to the surface of unprotected wood.


Compounding material which, through its ability to absorb ultraviolet radiation and render it harmless, retards the deterioration caused by sunlight and other UV light sources. Incorporated into a coating, this additive screens the most harmful UV portion of light and thereby protects films and sensitive substrates from the photo-destruction.


Process using UV light or Electron beam exposure to cure coating films. It converts the incoming radiation energy into a chemical reaction of non-saturated oligomers and/or monomers, in which the photoinitiator plays a key role.

UV/Light stabilizer

Chemical added to a coating to absorb the ultraviolet radiation present in sunlight and stabilize organic materials.



Vapor Barrier

A moisture-impervious layer which prevents the passage of water into a material or structure.


The liquid portion of a coating in which the pigment is dispersed. Comprised of binder and thinner.


The technique of producing irregular lines in a color that contrasts with the background color in order to produce a marbled effect. Veining is accomplished most effectively with the tip of a strong feather.


In woodworking, veneer refers to thin slices of wood, usually thinner than 3 mm (1/8 inch), that are typically glued onto core panels (typically, wood, particle board or medium density fiberboard) to produce flat panels such as doors, tops and panels for cabinets, parquet floors and parts of furniture. They are also used in marquetry. Plywood consists of three or more layers of veneer, each glued with its grain at right angles to adjacent layers for strength. Veneer beading is a thin layer of decorative edging placed around objects, such as jewelry boxes.

Veneer is obtained either by "peeling" the trunk of a tree or by slicing large rectangular blocks of wood known as flitches. The appearance of the grain and figure in wood comes from slicing through the growth rings of a tree and depends upon the angle at which the wood is sliced.

Traditionally, veneers were also sawn, but this is more wasteful of wood. Veneering is an ancient art, dating back to the ancient Egyptians who used veneers on their furniture and sarcophagi.

Vernis Martin

A form of translucent japanning developed in France in the first half of the 18th century by the Martin brothers.


Circa 1840 to 1910 - Named for Queen Victoria of England who reigned from 1837-1901. The Victorian style draws its influence from gothic forms with heavy proportions, dark finish, elaborate carving, and ornamentation. The Victorian period was the first furniture style of mass production.

Vinyl Sealer

Vinyl sealer is normally a copolymer of vinyl chloride/vinyl acetate. Sometimes they are offered as a nitro/vinyl mixture for quicker drying and increased hardness. Some are also made with sanding aids for easier sanding, but not as easy as nitro sanding sealer. In use under nitro lacquer/acrylic/or other evaporative finishes they give increased water resistance and are normally recommended for such purposes by the KCMA when used there or in other high humidity/wet areas.

If used under catalyzed finishes it is recommended to use a type that is copolymerized with a small amount of alkyd amino resins because the acid catalyst may attack a non catalyzed vinyl sealer. Many times it is also used for first and inter-coat adhesion needs when applying glaze and other color affects or as a barrier coat.


The thickness of a coating material in its liquid form. Resistance of a fluid to a change in shape, or movement of neighboring portions relative to one another. Viscosity denotes opposition to flow. It may also be thought of as internal friction between the molecules. Viscosity is a major factor in determining the liquid flow in spraying, injection molding, and surface coating. The viscosity of liquids decreases rapidly with an increase in temperature, while that of gases increases with an increase in temperature.

Viscosity Cup

In paint industries, viscosity is commonly measured with a Zahn cup, in which the efflux time is determined and given to customers. The efflux time can also be converted to kinematic viscosities (cSt) through the conversion equations.

A Ford viscosity cup measures the rate of flow of a liquid. This, under ideal conditions, is proportional to the kinematic viscosity.

Vitruvian scroll

A repeated Classical scrolled wave decoration named after the Roman architect Marcus Vitruvius Pollio.


An open space or a break in continuity; a gap. Holidays or holes in a surface coating.

Volatile Content

The percentage of materials which evaporate from a coating. The solvent portion of a coating.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

Organic chemicals that produce vapors readily at room temperature and normal atmospheric pressure, including gasoline and solvents such as toluene, xylene, and tetrachloroethylene. They form photochemical oxidants (including ground-level ozone) that affect health, damage materials, and cause crop and forest losses. Many are also hazardous air pollutants. Abbreviated VOC.


A scroll based on a ram's horn, as used on the capital of the Ionic order etc.



Wainscot (Dutch - wagenschott)

A type of fine straight-grained quarter sawn oak imported from the Baltic and originally used for wagon shafts. Later synonymous with oak.

Walnut Oil

A favorite finish and a traditional French furniture polishing oil, not only is walnut oil edible it is delicious and can be obtained from health and food stores often much cheaper than modern finishing oils and mixtures. It has a pleasant odor and is non-toxin and dries quickly making it a safe finish for all types of use where safety is of concern. Walnut oil also penetrates deeply into the wood and can be reapplied, over time, producing a gloss finish that is moisture resistant.


A coat of highly thinned finish used to partially seal the wood's surface before a dye, stain, glaze, or toner is applied. The washcoat provides a base for more uniform coloring.

Wash Primer

A thin paint designed to promote adhesion or to be used as a barrier coat.


Finish made with acrylic, vinyl or other latex resin types, and thinned with water. It dries more quickly than oil-based finishes, has relatively low odor, may have some water vapor permeability, and cleans up easily. The liquid component is predominantly water. Often referred to as water-base.

Water Gilding

Of the two types of gilding, water gilding is the only method of applying gold leaf that allows the surface to be burnished which provides the high reflectivity. It is only used for interior applications and is most frequently used on frames, furniture and objects. Preparation of the surface for water gilding is as follows: Glue size is applied to the wood. Numerous coats of gesso are applied, sanded and polished. Several coats of gilder's clay (bole) is applied and polished. Gold leaf is then applied using gilder's liquor which activates the glue present in the bole and gesso. At this point, the leaf may be left as is, providing a matte appearance, or may be burnished with the polished agate. In order to further accentuate the burnished surfaces some areas of the gilding are left matte.


A decorative motif based on water lily foliage, popularly carved on moldings circa 1810-1840.


Water White

A grade of color for liquids that has the appearance of clear water; for petroleum products, a plus 21 in the scale of the Saybolt chromometer.

Wet Edge

A wet edge is a decorative arts term (faux finishing). It applies to the glazing process. The artist, while applying the glaze, works in sections on a wall. They must make sure that the glaze does not dry on the outer edge in order for it to be joined to the next section. If it does dry, the result is a "dry edge" that creates a line and ruins the entire look of the faux finish.

Wet Film Thickness

This term is often used to quantify the amount of wet paint or similar protective substance that has been applied to a particular surface. It is often measured with a rather simple device called a wet film thickness guage. The gauge is piece of plastic about the same size and shape as a credit card but about twice as thick. Along the edge are a series of evenly spaced teeth. The two teeth at either end are the same length, but the intermediate teeth are in descending lengths so that when the edge of the gauge is pressed in to the wet coating, the thickness can be measured by observing which tooth has wet paint on it: the shorter the tooth, the thicker the coating, and vice versa. A more sophisticated, electronic tool is required to measure the thickness of dry paint.



Wetting is the ability of a liquid to maintain contact with a solid surface, resulting from intermolecular interactions when the two are brought together. The degree of wetting (wettability) is determined by a force balance between adhesive and cohesive forces.

Wetting is important in the bonding or adherence of two materials. Wetting and the surface forces that control wetting are also responsible for other related effects, including so-called capillary effects. Regardless of the amount of wetting, the shape of a liquid drop on a rigid surface is roughly a truncated sphere.


The action of absorption by means of capillary action.

William and Mary (American Style)

Circa 1700 to 1725 - By the 18th century, a simplified version of Baroque William and Mary style began to appear in the interiors of American buildings. At this time, the first formal interior architectural paneling was introduced, and rooms were enriched with imported luxuries from Europe and the Orient. Turnings and cutouts whose shapes resembled Oriental vases began to be used. A tapering scroll foot -often called a paintbrush or Spanish foot became an important design element. (The form actually seems to have originated in Portugal, not Spain.) The carved elements in the cresting piece of chairs often reflected the designs Spanish foot of the Huguenot craftsman Daniel Marot, who was by William and Mary in England.

Since sculptural carving was a chief component of this style, it might be said that the era of the cabinetmaker had arrived. Walnut was a favored wood because it was readily available and lent itself to carving, and veneers cut from walnut burl added decorative interest to William and Mary furniture. Maple was also used, and ebonized finishes remained popular. By now, hardware was being imported to America, with engraved brass key plates and teardrop drawer pulls particularly favored.

Although vigorous in its execution, native furniture was now beginning to reveal the simplicity of detail and the flat plain surfaces that clearly distinguished American designs from their European prototypes. While cabinetmaking centers extended from New England to the Carolinas, only scant material survives about the makers of American William and Mary furniture.


Circa 1725 to 1825 - During the Chippendale era, Windsor furniture carried on the turner's tradition. Its name seems to be derived from an important English market town, where such furniture was sold. Produced in quantity in England beginning in the 17th century, these antique Windsor chairs are characterized by stick legs and spindles driven into a plank seat. Hickory and ash (tough, springy, and easily shaped) were ideal woods for the construction, which required no screws or nails.

Because antique Windsor chairs were being made in large numbers in Philadelphia by the mid 18th century, they were occasionally called "Philadelphia" chairs. The first ones made in Philadelphia had low backs; they were followed by fan backs, sack backs, and bow backs. A New England version was fashioned with a continuous hoop and arm.

Wiping Stain

A stain applied to bare wood and the excess is wiped off before it dries.

Wood Grain

The arrangement of layers of wood fiber growth.



Xylene - Xylol

A flammable aromatic hydrocarbon solvent used in epoxies and fast drying alkyds.


One who makes woodcuts or engravings.



Zinc Chromate

Bright yellow pigment that chemically is substantially zinc chromate, although its precise composition is rather complex. Its chief use is in anti-corrosive paints and primers for steel.

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