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Dovetails - A Clue for Dating Antiques - The Harp Gallery


Most quality pieces of antique furniture will have a dovetail joint in the drawer construction as it was a very early form of construction, but was so successful, it was used for many s of years. The Dovetail joint, got its name because of its similarity to the shape of a birds tail. The Dovetail joint is a highly skilled bit of cabinet making and is extremely strong and interlocks securely to connect two pieces of wood, usually drawer fronts and sides, or corners on chest carcasses. Originally they were done by hand, cut using a small saw and chisel, stuck using animal glue. This method can be seen as far back as the Egyptian times found on the furniture entombed with mummies, in pyramids and in furniture built for Chinese emperors. The English cabinet maker first started using the dovetail joint in the mid 17 th Century on walnut furniture and carried on doing this by hand until the late 19 th century when they were produced by machines, mainly in the Edwardian periods.

When the joint is expertly executed, it is a thing of beauty, and a secure joining of two boards that can last for centuries.

A little glue cements the connection, and a good dovetail joint has great strength and durability. This secretary desk from about was built by a good country carpenter, notice the dovetails on the side of the drawer, and holding the top and side planks together as well.

Hand cut dovetails were used to hold the sides of drawers together, but also to join the structural members of case furniture. Hand made screws and nails were relatively expensive and could rust and expand, sometimes cracking the wood they secured.

Glues of the period sometimes weakened. Dovetails have great strength, holding pieces of wood in perfect alignment over long periods of time.

This lavishly hand-carved cabinet from about shows structural dovetail joints on the back side. Simpler country furniture often had larger dovetails, or even a single tail and pin.

This country pine cupboard from the 's has big country dovetails:. These were cut with a jig or pattern, and an apprentice could create a very well fitting and attractive joint.

Dovetails are interlocking carved wood joints used in cabinetry to connect two Semler Appraisals and Estate Liquidations: Dating Furniture Keller Dovetail. A dovetail joint or simply dovetail is a joinery technique most commonly used in woodworking Some of the earliest known examples of the dovetail joint are in ancient Egyptian furniture entombed with mummies dating from First Dynasty. Dating antique furniture by dovetail. Crystal river, wa. Wood joinery of a dating furniture joint was made by terminal99 and offers a useful as useful as if they can .

Popular here into the 's, these joints never gained acceptance outside of the U. European cabinetmakers continued their hand-cut dovetails well into the 's. Here is an example of an Eastlake chest of drawers with characteristic "spoon" carving and "pin and cove" dovetails from the 's:.

Jul 4, This Pin was discovered by Candace Herrero. Discover (and save!) your own Pins on Pinterest. Noted for its dovetail dating furniture to being pulled apartthe dovetail joint is commonly used to join the sides of a to the front. This type of joint is used dovetail .

The next technological development in joinery was again American. In the 's, American furniture began to be mass produced, with interchangeable parts and speedy production for the growing and affluent middle class.

The slow and laborious crafting and carving, one piece at a time, by a master woodworker was not suited to the new mass market.

Making and fitting dovetail drawers - Part 1

Steam power, transferred by pulleys and leather belts, operated saws, carving machines and routers that could copy an original pattern exactly. These routers were ancestors of the electric precision tools of today, and could be used to rapidly cut a machined dovetail joint. Small angled cuts were made, followed by careful cleaning down by a sharpened chisel on both sides to avoid splintering.

A little glue is added to cement the connection. A well-crafted dovetail will last for centuries. The first dovetails, as used on early walnut furniture, were fairly large and crude.

As cabinet makers refined their skills the joints became smaller and neater. Look at the joints on the drawer of this Georgian dressing table for example.

A fine join became a signature for killed craftsman. As well as acting as a guide in dating our furniture, the dovetail can also tell us lots about the origin of the piece. Continental furniture is known for having much cruder, larger dovetails; the tails are at a much steeper angle.

An optional upgrade in some cabinets we were ordering prompted a call to my Dad what are dovetail joints and do I need or want them?. Dovetail joints often hold two boards together in a box or drawer, almost like interlocking the fingertips of your hands. As the dovetail joint evolved through the last one hundred thirty years, it becomes a clue for the age and authenticity of antique furniture. Hand cut dovetails. Commonly used in woodwork joinery, they can act as a useful tool while dating our furniture. Until the s, all furniture dovetails were cut by.

Simpler country furniture also often had larger dovetails, or even a single tail and pin.

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