Corbel is a piece of stone or wood that projects out from a wall, and is designed to support a superincumbent weight, such as a beam or any structural component. Corbels are used both on the interior and exteriors of homes and buildings. Interior corbels can accent the mantle of a fireplace, support a shelf, accent an archway, or the corbel can function as a small shelf in itself.
Carved wood corbels have been used in interior design and architecture for centuries. Corbels are also known as "decorative brackets". In Medieval architecture, corbels made from wood were known as "braggers" or "tassels".
Carved wood corbels are generally crafted and cut by the hand of an artisan or woodworker, giving them high aesthetic value. Wood corbels are commonly made from the following species; oak, mahogany, cherry, maple, and walnut, including others.
Different types of carved wood corbels are fitting for different functions. Large hardwood corbels provide the most load bearing support. It is often that ceiling corbels are greater in depth than height. Appliqué corbels are more decorative, and are used where a shallow depth of projection is required.
In terms of design and style, carved wood corbels vary greatly. Carvings of Mediterranean acanthus leaves and grapes follow Classical Revival architecture, mimicking the corbels of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Corbels with dramatic curves and filigrees often mimic the old English in style.
Common corbel sizes range from thin and long pilaster corbels with characteristically graceful lines, to short, stout, and bold models.