A chop is a signature or identifying mark made by a furniture or cabinet maker to identify his work. In the 18th and 19th centuries, cabinet makers (sic) furniture makers were allowed to use their own individual chop to identify their work only when they had qualified as a Master Cabinetmaker. This practice originated from the Chinese tradition of seals called "chops" and was introduced to Europe in the middle ages. A chop was normally created by a mallet and chisel, creating a unique design. In some cases, fathers would pass the chop to their sons, and the son would then add a slight modification to indicate which generation created the piece.
The act of striking the chisel with the mallet or chopping is the root of the term.