Dating antique furniture dovetails, drawers Date Furniture
Dating Furniture Using Dovetail Joints
The side boards of the drawer are cut in such a way as to slide into the grooves and create a secure joint. It was also free, in societies where hand-forged screws or nails were luxuries that might rust, expand and split your bedpost, tabletop or chest of drawers. Today, dovetail joints are machine made, and that fact is what helps to pinpoint the age of the chest of drawers from the attic. Any piece on casters wheels is typically pres.
The most common storage facility of the era was the cupboard or court cupboard consisting of open shelves below doors which concealed more shelves. The search for the answer to this question is the basis of our built in time line.
Dovetail joints are excellent joints but they take a long time to make by hand. Generally, mass-produced pieces up until the s and s when particleboard and cheaper, flimsier construction techniques became popular are great candidates for refinishing. The development of power tools such as routers and saws made it possible to make this type of joint. Hand-cut dovetailing was the default until when uniform machine-cut joints were introduced.
Types of Dovetails in Antiques
Early pieces that were handcrafted will sometimes bear an inscription from an individual furniture maker, a clue to its value that should be examined by a professional appraiser. This style of dovetail was popular until about in American and Canadian furniture and was often hand-cut, with the use of precision saws and chisels. Wider, uniform machine-cut dovetails were common in factory-made pieces from until the modern era. Hand-cut dovetails are the oldest and are usually easy to identify. Hand dovetails are slightly irregular and the pins are thin and tapered.
But fine cabinetmakers persisted in fitting their joints by hand until the early s, and cabinetmakers in Europe cut dovetails by hand well into the s. Machine-made dovetails are thicker than graceful, asymmetrical hand-cut joints. The massive horizontal stone lintels at Stonehenge were connected by dovetailing, more rounded than triangular.
The technique produces a sturdy, long-lasting connection. These grooves run across the bottom of the piece on the reverse side and up the sides. At one point we went into their bedroom and I headed directly for a very old-looking chest-of-drawers. It is a five sided box that must fit perfectly within a case a six-sided box and be removable on demand without binding or breaking either the drawer or the case. However, this joint had two historical problems.
First, dating furniture is a fine art. Regardless of whether your piece has value as an antique, these clues to its age and history can help you research appropriate finishes and hardware before you dive into your project. An analysis of glue remnants could be the key to precisely defining the age of a hand-cut dovetailed antique. Examining these joints helps determine the age of old furniture. Any technique or machine that was once used could still be used, and often is used, for example, tongan dating traditions in mexico by many readers of this magazine who build reproduction furniture.
Drawers Date Furniture
In many cases the nails are installed in cut outs in the drawer side so they do not protrude above the surface and impede the travel of the drawer. Whether that tail is fat, skinny, symmetrical or used sparingly reveals a clue to the origins of the piece. Kriner, Fox Chapel Publishing Look for solid wood or plywood backing Look at the backside of your piece, including the insides and backs of drawers if applicable. Also, clearly visible scribe marks and saw or chisel overcuts frequently remain on the wood.
If you have a set with a separate mirror that hangs on the wall above the dresser, you can date that to the s or later. Examples of dovetailed joints have been found in pieces from ancient Egyptian and Chinese civilizations, and it remains a popular method of joinery today. Early dovetail construction sometimes featured only one pin and it was often nailed in place.
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