Office Furniture Glossary


Arnold’s Office Furniture Glossary

At Arnold’s Office Furniture, we use office jargon all day.  To us, office furniture is a way of life.  But this might not be so for you.

Below is a detailed glossary created and verified in-house to help you understand the parts involved in the creation of a productive workplace:

Acoustical Panel –  used to reduce noise and control sound in many different spaces

Adjustable Arms – the ability to move the arms of an office chair up and down or back (vertical) or side to side (Width) for maximum comfort and workability

ANSI (American National Standards Institute) – engineering committee that develops safety and performance standards.  Every five years the standards are reviewed by the ANSI

Area Takeoff – used to plan office layouts typically in increments of square feet or yardage.

Asynchronous Control – a mechanism responsible for simultaneous but independent movement associated with a chair’s seat and backrest

AutoCAD – software used to create floor plans

Back Pitch – angle of a chair’s back in correlation to the seat

B/B/F Pedestal  (“Box/Box/File Ped”) – a filing unit located under a work surface top;  a “box” refers to a top drawers used to store stationary and smaller objects, while the “file” drawer is a standard hanging file compartment

BIFMA – Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association

Block Diagram – a diagram that shows placement of office furniture layout and office design – typically generated by software such as AutoCAD

Book Matching – creates a mirrored grain pattern; veneer or laminate sheets are put together so that the back of one sheet is connected to the face of another sheet

Box Drawer – 6” high drawer as part of a BBF pedestal

Bridge – the piece that connects the desk and credenza in a “U” shaped desk set

Bullet Top Desk – a work surface that can replace the “L” or “U” – named after its shape (looks like a bullet from certain viewpoints)  

C-Leg – type of leg that holds up a desk and offers additional leg and knee room

Casegoods – refers to freestanding office furniture; typically includes bookcases, desks, credenzas, and computer furniture; usually has wood veneer or laminate construction

Casters – wheels that are customized for a chair base to provide mobility

Chassis – the body of a desk

COM – refers to an industry abbreviation for “Customers Own Material”

Corner Blocks – used to strengthen chair frames; typically consists of wood

Counterweight – small weights in the base of a piece of office furniture (usually 2-drawer or standalone lateral file) that provide protection from the piece toppling over when a heavy drawer is open

Cluster – cubicle system grouped together to create a two way workstation; can come in a solo unit or can be built as a grouping; also, are customizable to fit the space of the office

Credenza – low sideboard cabinets that offer a good amount of storage space – ideal for an executive or home office

Defeat Mechanism – used to help prevent a file cabinet from toppling over

Density – refers to the weight of a cubic foot of foam used in office chairs that can range from 1.0 lbs. to 3.0 lbs.  3.0 lbs foam density is rated as the standard for best quality

Direct Pressure Laminate – particle board bonded to a sheet of melamine

Double Pedestal Desk – a desk with two personal storage units

Dovetail – joint commonly used to join the sides of a drawer to the front

Dowel – a technique used for creating or strengthening joints; typical dovetails are round, small, and made of wood

Drawer Configuration – the pattern or layout of drawers within a pedestal often seen as box/box/file (BBF) or file/file (FF)

Drum Base – support for a table or work surface

End Panel – found on the end of each desk.  Vertical panel that helps support the desk.

Ergonomic – usually in reference to an office chair;  designed to cradle the body for comfort and reduced stress & injury

Face Veneer – the veneer on the most visible surfaces

F/F Pedestal (File/File Pedestal) – can be found under the work surface top;  typically 15” wide.

Fiberboard – also known as an “MDF” – a board consisting of fibers of wood bonded together with synthetic resins

Fire Retardant – special chemicals added to fabric allowing them to be resistant to burning

Floor Core – a hole drilled in the floor of the office space to help the flow of wires create an internet hub or power grid to the room

Freestanding – refers to furniture not supported by panel systems

Full-Pedestals – pedestals that extend to the floor below the desk and support the work surfaces

Furniture Plan – layout by a designer that shows where pieces will go.  When designing an office layout, CAD is the program frequently used by architects, interior designers, and office managers.

Glides – small, adjustable feet on a piece of furniture used to create balance and keep the workspace level

Graining – a natural wood grain pattern printed onto another surface

Grommet – a plastic covering built into an open space in a desk that can be used to neatly store wires and power cords

Hardwood – mahogany, oak, birch, walnut and other deciduous species of trees are hardwoods. Hardwood desks have distinctive definition on grain patterns which make them desirable

High Pressure Laminate (HPL) – used to add durability to office furniture while keeping up with the cosmetic appearance.  It is created by taking layers of phenolic resin induced with kraft paper and then overlaid with a solid color paper or wood grain and capped with a plastic sheet.  Once compressed together, it is then attached to a substrate material.

Hutch – typically found on a credenza, it is a piece of furniture that has doors to conceal additional storage areas

Interlock – a mechanism that locks two or more drawers at the same time while still allowing a single drawer to be opened.  This device is used to help prevent a cabinet from toppling over.  

Inside Delivery – customer specifications to have casegood delivered and placed into the office premises with no installation required

Keyboard Tray – found underneath a desk, it is used to hold the keyboard;  helps create a clean-look work space.

Knee Tilt Control – device that controls the vertical movement of a office chair

Knockouts – a hole at the base panel of office furniture used as a portal for data or electrical outlets

Lateral File – file cabinet that usually come in widths of 30”, 36”, and 42”.  Drawers come in 2, 3, 4, and 5 high configurations.  This type of file cabinet is wider than is deep which allows for side to side filing.  

Laminate – two separate materials forged together (High pressure laminate and Direct pressure Laminate)

Lead Time – refers to how long it will take to fulfill an order

L-Post – a corner connector for a desk that looks like the letter “L”

Lumbar Support – support that helps the back by building additional padding into the back of a chair;  refers to additional support given to the lumbar region of the body which is pertaining to the area of the lower spine

Mechanism – system that is used to adjust, tilt, and swivel an office chair

Melamine – when combined with formaldehyde it becomes a very durable thermosetting plastic used in high pressure decorative laminates

Millwork – fabrication of office furniture

Modesty Panel – provides privacy and improves overall strength of the office structure;  a sheet of material attached underneath to the front of the desk;  panel that can go all the way to the floor and helps to hide the kneehole

Move Coordination – service to install office furniture;  includes logistic of office furniture, scheduling of contractors, and time applicable for set up crew

Moulding – a defining, transitional, or terminal element that contours or outlines the edges and surfaces on a projection or cavity, such as a cornice, architrave, capital, arch, base, or jamb

Open Office Plan – typically in the center of the office layout to create a work environment that is conducive to creativity and allows employees to easily engage in work conversations

Overhang – produced by recessing the modesty panel when the work surface hangs over the modesty panel. Overhangs vary from 6″ to 11″ and allow the visitor to position a chair close to the desk.

Overhead Cabinet – a wide cabinet either single or double above the workstation used for extra storage;  front panel usually slides up and back for easy access to storage and lights are affixed below this cabinet

Particle Board – material made in rigid sheets or panels from compressed wood chips and resin, often coated or veneered, and used in furniture and buildings

P-Top (Peninsula Top) – work surface designed with one rounded end

Pneumatic Height Adjustment – gas cylinder powered mechanism allowing the user to adjust seat height

Polyester – polymers that can be used to make plastics or fibers

Polyurethane Foam – polymer composed of organic units joined by carbamate links – used in the manufacture of high-resilience foam seating.

Posture Control – allows the backrest to tilt independently of the seat, allowing for adjustments in back patch

Power Pole – a floor to ceiling pole that has the capacity to house electrical or data communication lines that are then used to power workstations

Power Whip / Base Power Infeed – or base feed module –  type of cable that converts a fixed-in-place device to a modular asset.  This is an external factory application designed to be installed on the outside of a raceway cover or kickplate

Power Whip / Ceiling Infeed – or base feed module –  type of cable that converts a fixed-in-place device to a modular asset.  This is an internal factory application designed to be installed on the inside of a raceway cavity

Privacy Panel – an office partition used to create a private workspace and for noise reduction

Punch LIst – list used to keep track of damaged or missing pieces of office furniture especially during the process of an office space delivery/install – Arnold’s has the lowest punch list rate following a job east of the Mississippi

PVC – polyvinyl chloride that is used to finish the edgebanding of a work surface

Quadraplex Outlet – an electrical outlet with 4 receptacles -sometimes called a quad

Raceway – enclosed conduit that forms a pathway for electrical wiring and cables;  helps protect wires from outside interference

RTA (Ready-To-Assemble) – less expensive than pre-made furniture, the buyer is responsible for putting together the casegoods upon arrival

Radius Styling – rounded edges on credenzas and the tops of desks

Routing – to mill a metal or wood surface

Sheen Level – glossiness of a paint finish

Skins – easy to remove parts of a furniture panel

Sliding Seat Pan – mechanism on a chair used to move the seat from front to back

Spine Lift – allows for the chair to raise or lower by spinning the chair counter;  turn clockwise to lower and counter-clockwise to raise

Stackable – office furniture partitions that can be stacked to create additional privacy and acoustical value — also used in reference to a style of chair that can be stacked and stowed to create additional space when not in use

Storage Credenza – also known as a closed or door credenza.  Credenza doors are found in between the two pedestals.  Can be hinged or sliding doors.

Surface Abrasion – wear and tear levels of a surface

Task Chair – a comfortable office chair that typically can revolve 360 degrees

Tempered Hardboard – very dense fiberboard with a smooth surface

Tension Control – knob-adjustable mechanism on the chair;  controls the counterbalance of the seat when the user leans back

Tongue and Groove – a strong joint that is widely used for re-entrant angles

Tray Drawer – a personal drawer that is 4” in height

“U” Shaped Workstation – a workstation desk  forming the letter “U” when seen from above;  will generally have a single pedestal and a single pedestal credenza connected on one side by a modesty panel

Veneer – a thin decorative covering of fine wood applied to a coarser wood or other material

Vertical File – deeper than wide, a type of cabinet typically used to store files

Wall Mount – office furniture pieces mounted directly to the wall

Work Surface – the top of the desk used to place a computer monitor, keyboard, mouse, or to generally do work on

Wire Management – a built in application to the workspace used to hide electrical wiring

Workstation – an area made specifically for an employee to perform tasks comprised of a work surface, panels, storage, and other features conducive to productivity

Now that you’re all caught up with your office furniture lingo, contact us to talk with an office furniture professional who can point you in the best direction to complete your office furniture project.  We look forward to working with you!