Tag Archives: parts

Parts of a Cigar, Cigarette, Pipe and Matchbook

Theatre and films seem to have an awful lot of tobacco smoking in it, so it can be useful to the props person to be able to identify the parts and anatomy of common smoking devices. Cigars, cigarettes and pipes have endless variations of shapes and styles and have evolved much throughout history, but they do have parts that have remained somewhat consistent over time.

Names of the parts of a cigar, cigarette, pipe and matchbook


  • foot – the end meant to be lit.
  • cigar band – a paper or foil loop that identifies the type and/or brand of cigar. The hobby of collecting cigar bands is known as vitolophily; you can find over 1,000 examples of old cigar bands at the “Up-in-Smoke” Cigar Band Museum.
  • wrapper – a spirally-rolled leaf of tobacco.
  • head – the end closest to the cigar band that goes in the smoker’s mouth.
  • tuck – where the wrapper is folded in to keep itself from unraveling.
  • tobacco – dried and fermented bunches of leaves.


  • filter – a cellulose tube not filled with tobacco meant to lower the amount of tar and other unwanted particles from entering the lungs. Invented in the mid-1920s. By the 1960s, the majority of cigarettes had filters, though even today you can still buy unfiltered ones.
  • foot – the end that goes in your mouth. On a fully-smoked cigarette, this is known as the butt.
  • band – similar to a cigar band but usually printed right on the cigarette paper. Can have the logo or just a simple design.
  • paper – a combustible tube-shaped wrapper to hold the tobacco.
  • tobacco – shredded tobacco leaves, tobacco by-products, and other additives.


  • bit or mouthpiece – where one puts his or her mouth.
  • stem – the part that joins the shank with the bit or mouthpiece.
  • saddle – a flattened part for easier gripping.
  • shank – where the mortise on the bowl connects with the tenon on the stem.
  • shape – the style of curve and other attributes. Here is a great chart of various pipe shapes.
  • bowl – part used to hold the tobacco. The interior hollow area is known as the chamber. Unsmoked tobacco in the bottom of the bowl after smoking is called dottle.
  • lunt – another name for pipe smoke.


  • cover – folded paper or cardboard piece to hold the matches. Frequently contains advertising or logos on the outside. The abrasive striking surface, or friction strip, used to light the matches is on the back cover. The hobby of collecting matchbook covers is known as phillumeny.
  • saddle – the area between the front and back of the cover.
  • head – the part of the match that is lit.
  • matchstick – the stem of a match.
  • front flap – the bit of the cover tucked inside to hold the matches.
  • staple – used to secure the matchsticks between the cover and the front flap.
  • score – the crease to form the front flap.

Parts of a Table

Parts of a table
Parts of a table

Tables are a type of furniture which have innumerable variations, types and styles. Nonetheless, some basic parts show up in the majority of tables, especially the kinds which find their way onto the theatrical stage. Knowing the names of these parts is helpful for facilitating communication between designers, artisans and other members of the team; if the set designer asks for the apron to be smaller, you want to know which part you should change. What follows is some quick definitions of the parts in the illustration above.

top – the flat surface of a table

apron, skirt or frieze – the under-framing which connects the legs to the top

leg – the main vertical piece which supports the top and raises it off the floor

knee – the upper portion of the leg

foot – the bottom part of the leg which touches the floor. A table may have completely straight legs with no distinct knee or foot.

drop leaf – a portion of the top which overextends the apron and can be hinged down to take up less space when not in use

stretcher – cross pieces which connect the legs to add strength and stability. Some common configurations of stretchers include the H stretcher, X stretcher, and box stretcher.

Hammer Time

Parts of a hammer
Parts of a hammer

Your basic hammer is made of two parts: the handle and the head. The handle fits through a hole in the head known as the eye (or adze eye), and is held in place with a wedge. On newer hammers, the grip may be wrapped in rubber for greater comfort. The face is what strikes the nail or other surface you are hammering. Hammers used for peening, or shaping metal come in a number of varieties. A ball peen hammer has a peen with a hemisphere shape. A claw hammer has a claw used for removing nails or separating two pieces of wood.

Types of hammers
Types of hammers

I gathered some of the hammers we have in our shop, which represent some of the more common types which are useful to the props artisan. From left to right, we have:

Claw hammer: Your basic carpentry hammer is useful for driving and removing nails into wood. It’s also the go-to-hammer for basic “hitting stuff”; I kind of cringe every time I see someone grab a ball peen hammer to knock something loose.

Rawhide mallet: Useful for non-marring blows, especially when working with leather, jewelery or other softer and delicate metals.

Lead mallet: These are used to hit steel without the risk of creating sparks. You can also get copper mallets for the same purpose.

Soft-faced hammer: The faces are made of soft materials, such as rubber or plastic, and are often removable and replaceable. These are used when you are hammering on or around decorative or finished wood to keep from marring the surface.

Tack hammer: Used in upholstery to drive tacks. One end is split and often magnetic to help hold the tiny tacks while driving them in.

Ball peen hammer: Peen hammers are used for shaping metal. Besides the ball peen, you may also find straight peen, cross peen, and point peen, among others.

Wooden mallet: Or carpenter’s mallet, used for furniture assembly or driving in dowels when non-marring blows are needed.

You can of course find any number of other types of hammers and mallets, with many variations in between. Prop shops will often carry rubber mallets, rip hammers and sledge hammers. Other types of hammers, such as bricklayer hammers or drywall hammers may also find their way into shops. Check out the Science and Engineering Encyclopedia for a comprehensive list of hammers.

Parts of a Book

For long-term fans of my blog, you may have picked up that I am working on a book about props. It will be an expanded treatment of the paper I presented at the SETC Symposium in 2009, essentially setting forth a “scientific method” to approach the construction of any type of prop. It’s going to be a lot more fun than that sounds. To get in the spirit of things, here is a diagram and definitions of the various parts of a book.

Diagram of the parts of a book
Diagram of the parts of a book
  • text block – Everything between the covers.
  • front flap – The section of the dust jacket on the front of the book which is folded so it sits inside the cover.
  • endleaves – Two or more leaves at the front and back between the cover and the text block.
  • fore edge – The side of the book opposite the spine.
  • leaf – A single sheet of paper is a leaf, and each side is a page. The front page is known as the Obverse or Recto, while the back page is the Reverse or Verso.
  • gatherings – A group of leaves formed by folding a single sheet of paper. The text block is made of a series of gatherings.
  • headband – The narrow cloth band on the top and bottom of the spine. In hand-sewn books, it is functional and adds strength, in machine-bound books it is decorative.
  • cover/case – Whatever covers the text block. It consists of the cover panels and cover spine.
  • back flap – Like the front flap, but in the back.
  • dust jacket – Books used to have these to protect the covers. Of course that was before they had dust repellent paper.
  • front face – The front section of the dust jacket. The portion of the cover underneath is the front cover panel.
  • joint – Where the cover panels meet the cover spine.
  • spine – The back part of the cover where the text block is attached. It’s what you see when books are on a bookcase.
  • back face – The back section of the dust jacket. The portion of the cover underneath is the back cover panel.
  • head – The top of the book
  • tail – The bottom of the book

Parts of a Sword Hilt

There is no such thing as a generic or universal sword, thus no single drawing can encapsulate all the possible parts and various names for them. The diagram I made here is based off a Renaissance-style rapier, which is what many of us traditionally keep in our stock and use for stage combat. Interestingly, swords in all time-periods and cultures share at least three basic parts: the blade, the pommel, and the grip.

Parts of a sword hilt
Parts of a sword hilt - Click for a larger view

Button – Also known as a pommel nut, pommel bolt, capstan rivet, or tang nut. In some swords, the button is screwed on to the end of the tang to hold the grip on.

Pommel – The counter-weight at the end of the grip.

Grip – Handle

Tang – The hidden part of the blade which the grip is mounted to.

Shoulder – The corner portion where the tang and the blade meet.

Guard – A blanket term for all the parts that protect the hand.

Quillon – Extended portions of the guard.

Écusson – or quillon block. The metal center where the quillons meet and all parts of the guard attach to.

Ricasso – Unsharpened portion of the blade which extends from the grip to the end of the guard.