Post by Stacey Walker. Stacey mostly works behind the scenes for Walker Woodworking, managing day to day operations, and marketing. Stacey has helped many clients create their dream space.

Common Cabinet Terms

Base cabinet, dovetail, face frame, and stile. These are words we use every day but we realize that to most of our clients they may seem like a foreign language. For us working in the woodshop these are simply terms we use to describe how we build those amazing custom cabinets, but since they can feel a little overwhelming the first time around we thought we would break down some of the most common phrases and explain what they mean. Product education is important to us because we want you to be familiar with the how and why of our process.

Base cabinet

These are the cabinets that sit on the floor. They form the foundation or base of the project and are where the countertop, sink, and main appliances go. The standard height is 35 to 36 inches including the countertop and approximately 24 inches deep but these measurements can vary since we are a custom cabinet shop.

Wall Cabinet

This term is more obvious, since they are mounted to the wall. Sizes can vary with these cabinets based on what their purpose is and what they are placed next too. For instance those above the hood will differ in depth and width from those that are directly above the base cabinets. 

Toe Kick

A portion of the base cabinets will have a recessed area along the bottom of the base cabinets known as a toe kick. This is done to give your feet room when standing in front of the cabinets. It is considered an essential element for cabinet design since it allows you to stand closer to the countertop. It is usually about 3 inches deep and about 3 and a half high.

Inset Cabinets

Inset cabinetry is where the doors and drawers fit neatly inside the cabinet frame creating minimal spacing between the cabinet components. The entire cabinet frame can be seen and hardware is needed to open and close the doors. This is a popular door style for many of our clients.

Frameless Cabinets

These cabinets are the easiest accessibility because the cabinet frame is eliminated meaning there is no frame seen like there is with inset. The front of the cabinet box is formed by the edges of the top, bottom and side panels of the cabinet box. It is considered a bit more of a modern style and is also a popular option with homeowners. See an example here.


Referring to a coating applied over the cabinet stain or paint that enhances or changes the color of the base coat. It also is a beautiful way to highlight intricate architectural designs in the cabinets such as moldings or corners.


The horizontal pieces of a face frame or door frame, and are paired with stiles for a complete cabinet frame.


The vertical pieces of a face frame or door frame (in contrast to the “rails” which are the horizontal members of the frame). They are combined with the rails to create a complete cabinet frame.

Dovetail drawer

Joints that hold the sides of the drawer together with interlocking “tails” on one side and “pins” on the other are the origin for the dovetail term. The result is a joint that is strong and highly resistant to being pulled apart. They are also considered a mark of high craftsmanship due to the durability they bring to your cabinets.

Drawer front

This is the panel that is attached to the front of a drawer box. It is the visible front part of the drawer that the handle is attached to. On some cabinet drawers the drawer face is the front part of the drawer box.

Concealed hinge

Of course this term means that you cannot see the hinge but they are placed inside the surface of the cabinet door. This option is a great choice as it allows the space to have a clean, flawless look and feel.

Now you know

Being familiar with a few of the terms can help you during your design meeting can help you better understand the options available and what will work best for your particular style and needs. See our full list of terms here. We love working with our clients to create a design that is what they envisioned which is why we believe it is essential to take the time to go over every detail including product education. We are more than just a custom cabinet company, we are family owned which means you will receive the same care we give to our own loved ones. Contact us today and let’s get started planning that project.