A corbel, in contemporary application, is a carved design element that adds the appearance of ornate craftsmanship to a project. Originally, corbels were developed as a load-bearing element used in classical architecture. Corbels would help to bear the weight of an excessively heavy architectural piece such as a roof or ledge. The supportive strength of a corbel resides in its ability to utilize leverage for strength because its top end presents a right-angle platform that is supported by the vertical support of its long body. Today, corbels can still be used as functional weight bearers for cabinets and countertops to give the installation a regal classic appeal. Most corbels are made of resin or wood and are applied after construction but before painting.
The original stone corbels were to support balconies and ledges in ancient architecture. Corbels were always masonry and should not be confused with wood jutting of similar purpose that is known as a bragger. Corbels can be added to an existing installation to, in similar fashion and purpose to adding moldings, completely change or revitalize the look of standard cabinetry.