Dating furniture dovetails

18 Sep

Individual taste is, of course, the prime factor in choosing the type of antique one collects, but in order that the reader may have a sort of yardstick for determining the merits or defects of a particular piece, we shall endeavor on this page to give him some concrete and practical points on judging the antiques in each of these categories.

These should help him to decide whether a chair, table or case piece is in original condition; whether it has been restored and reconditioned within proper limits, or has been so extensively reworked as to be of little value as an antique; and finally, whether it is a deliberate fake or just a copy of an old piece, with no claim to being an antique.

Adhesives give strength and durability to joints of varying shapes and sizes.

If you want two different pieces of wood to stay connected you need to create a strong joint but you also want it to look nice too.

The English cabinet maker first started using the dovetail joint in the mid 17 century when they were produced by machines, mainly in the Edwardian periods.Below you can see examples, the first is a 17th century drawer, pre dovetail so very primitive clout nails used.Next is a Georgian drawer with hand cut dovetail and you can see irregularities in the cut and shapes.This was used in all woods from country pine and Oak to more fine Mahogany and Walnut timbers.You can get an idea of the date of a piece of antique furniture by looking at the dovetail joint, as if it is hand cut you know its pre 1880 and the more primitive the cut usually means an earlier piece.