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When does one become another? I know the horizontal board directly below the top, connecting the legs is called an apron. And say this piece is an end table with a panel on three sides a a drawer on the front, is the horizontal piece below the panel also an apron? And 3” above the floor, also running the perimeter of the table is another smaller piece. Is this a stretcher? 

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11 minutes ago, Coop said:

When does one become another? I know the horizontal board directly below the top, connecting the legs is called an apron. And say this piece is an end table with a panel on three sides a a drawer on the front, is the horizontal piece below the panel also an apron? And 3” above the floor, also running the perimeter of the table is another smaller piece. Is this a stretcher? 

I'll be the first to admit, I hadn't given this much thought..  As I see it, those supporting the top on the perimeter would be aprons and anything up the middle would be stretchers.

So, because of your question, I went and did a little looking and found this article..  It's not mine (https://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/2018/04/confusing-woodworking-terms-apron-vs.html) but, thought it relevant to your question..

Confusing woodworking terms: apron vs stretcher, batten vs cleat, groove vs dado

 
Recently I used the word batten and someone "corrected" me that I meant cleat. I was referring to a piece of wood attached horizontally to vertical boards for the purpose of holding them together. It got me thinking about woodworking terms and what they mean. Are cleat and batten different things or different words for the same thing? And what about other terms like apron and stretcher? Or groove vs dado? You sometimes see these words used interchangeably but woodworking like many professions has words for different things to facilitate communication. A channel cut parallel to the grain is a groove but one cut perpendicular to the grain is a dado. Saying dado is easier than saying you cut grooves perpendicular to the grain. But cut that groove on the edge and it becomes a rabbet regardless of grain direction. But what if you are cutting grooves, rabbets and dadoes in the same workpiece, can you refer to the collective as grooves?

Next one is easy, two things that look alike, act alike, are almost alike but aren't the same thing. An apron is a horizontal support piece that attaches to table legs AND tabletop, it ties three elements together. An apron opposes racking forces and secures a tabletop to the legs. A stretcher is similar except it does not attach to the top, it connects between two legs or stiles. But don't confuse it with a rail, which is a horizontal member that connects two stiles but is part of a frame! More on rails in a bit.

And at last the words that prompted this discussion, is it a batten or cleat? Some would say they are the same thing, others that they are completely different. Let's look at some examples.

A batten on a door holds the vertical boards together. A batten on a box connects opposite sides. Battens on a building straddle two pieces of siding, allowing them to expand or contract while keeping the edges down and covering the space between. A batten connects two or more things together.

A cleat on a dock keeps the boat from floating away. The cleat on a flagpole is for attaching the rope holding up the flag. A gangplank has cleats that hold the planks together but also help keep us from slipping. Sport shoes have cleats to help us keep our footing. So a cleat keeps things together but not the same way as a batten.

Things get messy quickly. A French cleat is used to hold a cabinet to the wall, makes sense with our understanding of a cleat but what about a ledger board which is a strip of wood used to support the weight of cabinets that are attached directly to the wall? Should it actually be called a cleat? Or is it an actual ledger?

Battens are horizontal pieces that hold something together like a door or a fence. No wait, that isn't right, the horizontal boards on a fence are called rails! It's the exact opposite of furniture where rails are part of panel! Argh! Shouldn't they be fence battens? What do you think?
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I am sure what Kev posted is accurate information.  I always thought of the apron being a table part, stretcher a chair or stool part, stile and rail door parts

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”  John Wooden

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7 hours ago, Chet said:

I am sure what Kev posted is accurate information.  I always thought of the apron being a table part, stretcher a chair or stool part, stile and rail door parts

lol..  The article didn't get into chair parts..  That could quite possibly be a big can of worms to the original question....  🤣

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Posted (edited)

Id say the top along a table top is a apron, any below that I would consider a rail.  A strecher to me is on the side of the piece.  Man I just confused myself!

Edited by Jamie
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As long as we are all undecided, I feel safe in calling anything that does not attach to the top and legs anything I want and not get challenged. Actually, I was thinking that a stretcher is and not exclusive to, similar to a board that connects table legs on one end of a table to the other, down the middle, as in a farm house table. 

The grooves, dadoes and rabbets definitions are a lot better defined! 

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1 minute ago, Coop said:

 Actually, I was thinking that a stretcher is and not exclusive to, similar to a board that connects table legs on one end of a table to the other, down the middle, as in a farm house table. 

 

I can go with that! 

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26 minutes ago, Coop said:

As long as we are all undecided, I feel safe in calling anything that does not attach to the top and legs anything I want and not get challenged. Actually, I was thinking that a stretcher is and not exclusive to, similar to a board that connects table legs on one end of a table to the other, down the middle, as in a farm house table. 

The grooves, dadoes and rabbets definitions are a lot better defined! 

As long as we know what you're talking about, the terminology is pretty much irrelevant.  We can split hairs over proper terms but, building something awesome in the shop is way more important!

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1 hour ago, Kev said:

As long as we know what you're talking about, the terminology is pretty much irrelevant.

My dad taught me a lot about woodworking when I was a kid but he never really used any terminology.  Then in ninth grade I took my first shop class.  When the shop teacher would teach us something new, in my head I always remember thinking I know how to do that but I didn't know that is what it is called. Lol

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”  John Wooden

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