Dovetail dating furniture
When the joint is expertly executed, it is a dovetail dating furniture of beauty, and a secure joining of two boards that can last for centuries.
What is a dovetail joint?
Machine cut dovetails were made from the middle of the s onward. Skip to main content. Emyl Jenkins' Reproduction Furniture. I've included a brief list of references, if you want to begin studying on your own. Send your comments, questions and pictures to Fred Taylor, P. It's called a "dovetail" joint because the flat-bottomed triangular shape of the wood insert looks like a dove's tail.
This country pine cupboard from the 's has big country dovetails:. By the end of the 18th century, dovetails became very fine and delicate. Dovetail joints are excellent joints but they take a long time to make by hand. Two to six hand forged wrought iron nails prevented the drawer front from being torn apart when the handles were pulled.
Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education. As the dovetail joint evolved through the last one hundred thirty years, it becomes a clue for the age and authenticity of antique furniture.
Antiques will show evidence of use and normal wear and tear. Here is an example of an Eastlake chest of drawers with characteristic "spoon" carving and "pin and cove" dovetails from the 's: This country pine cupboard from the 's has big country dovetails: Early Colonial 18th century dovetail joints featured three or four stubby dovetails and they were glued, not nailed.
European cabinetmakers continued to produce hand-cut dovetails through the 's. Simpler country furniture often had larger dovetails, or even a single tail and pin. Here is an early example of machine-cut dovetails on a 's sideboard from a dining set:.
These tips will get you started, but I encourage you to read and study further. Hand-made dovetails are slightly irregular, and only really fit international dating site for marriage one way, whereas machine cut dovetails are uniform and are often interchangeable from their original order.
The most common storage facility of the era was the cupboard or court cupboard consisting of open shelves below doors which concealed more shelves. Probably the easiest to recognize are the curved marks left by the circular saw, circa The pins and tails are wedge shaped, similar to a jigsaw piece. Steam power, transferred by pulleys and leather belts, operated saws, carving machines and routers that could copy an original pattern exactly.
Hand cut dovetails were used to hold the sides of drawers together, but also to join the structural members of case dovetail dating furniture. In damp conditions, tannic acid in the oak timber would accelerate corrosion of the nails and drawer fronts were often ripped apart. The dovetail technique is centuries old and can be dated back to ancient Egypt, where it was used in furniture entombed with mummies.
Since dovetail dating furniture is an organic material, it shrinks across the grain with age. There were few dovetails in each drawer. On the other hand, if we find a machine made dovetail joint we know with pretty good assurance that it was made in the 20th century and our search for antiquity is over.
Telltale Dovetail Detail
Check for the thickness of veneers. More often than not the dovetails are age appropriate, and this article will explain what a dovetail is, and what to look for in a period piece to correctly date it. Old veneer could not be cut thin.