Showroom – Frequently Asked Questions. As the dovetail joint evolved through the last one hundred thirty years, it becomes a clue for the age and authenticity of antique furniture. The type of dovetailed joint, especially in drawers, reveals much about furniture construction and dating. With just a little study of these examples, it is easy to spot true hand made construction vs. The earliest examples are from furniture placed with mummies in Egypt thousands of years ago, and also in the burials of ancient Chinese emperors. For thousands of years, a dovetail joint was created by a skilled cabinetmaker using small, precision saws and wood chisels. Tiny angled saw cuts were followed by careful cutting by a sharpened chisel on both sides to avoid splintering. When the joint is expertly executed, it is a thing of beauty, and a secure joining of two boards that can last for centuries.
Customers often ask us questions about dating furniture. One way to do this is from the dovetail joints used in its construction. 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. A dovetail is a common type of joint used to connect pieces of wood together.
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PHONE: This is a big topic to tackle and it will not be possible to cover many details in this short column. To determine age, consider the form and function, tool marks, construction techniques, and materials used in the furniture. Note the style. Check for evidence of age. Is it a coffee table or king-size bed? Murphy beds? They appeared in the s. Windsor chairs were not around before the Queen Anne period. Game or card tables did not exist in great numbers until the end of the 17th Century.
Oak joint stools, on the other hand, have been around for five hundred years. If you can locate tool marks on a piece of exposed wood, you might have some clues to follow. Pit saws, used from roughly the s to , left irregular, slanted, deep rough marks. Up-and-down saws left vertical, crisp uniform marks and were used from to the s.
How to Identify Furniture of the 1800s by Its Dovetailing
I found an oak washstand that probably dates to around My fellow woodworkers and I had never seen joints like the ones on the drawers. Is this joint shown above common to a particular region, or was it used by a specific manufacturer? Also, can I buy a jig to make this joint? What you describe is a pin-and-crescent joint, also known as a pin-and-scallop, pin-and-cove, or scallop-and-dowel joint. This joint was a Victorian-era innovation to replace time-consuming hand-cut dovetail joints with a fast, machine-made alternative.
Found in the sides of drawers, cabinets, and other pieces, dovetail joints have been employed in furniture for centuries. Once you spot.
If you suspect your piece is pre, like these early s antiques, consult an expert — do not refinish. If you have a worn old dresser or rickety heirloom chair on your hands, you may be thinking of refinishing it yourself. Older mass-produced pieces whose origins fall somewhere between and are ideal candidates for refinishing. Here are some general guidelines to assessing the age and quality of your piece.
But keep in mind that there are lots of exceptions to these rules, so err on the side of caution. Hand-cut dovetails can date an older American piece to before , although hobbyists and specialty makers still use them. Hand dovetails are slightly irregular and the pins are thin and tapered. Wider, uniform machine-cut dovetails were common in factory-made pieces from until the modern era. Hand dovetails pictured below, top piece are slightly irregular and the pins are thin and tapered.
Identifying Antique Furniture
This post was contributed by a community member. The views expressed here are the author’s own. An important thing to learn that will help determine if a piece of furniture is an older “antique” is if a dovetail drawer joint was cut by hand or by a machine. It’s fairly easy to tell the difference with a quick look at them.
The first giveaway is the joinery—machine-cut only dates back to If the piece Not all pieces made before had dovetail joints on drawers. Those that.
Dating furniture dovetail joints Adam4adam is dating. Modern dating all the type of furniture dovetail joint was strong arms, singles, events and not. Furniture handles look similar to confirm a hand planers do woodworkers need for the joints is a piece of english antiques collector, identifying antique furniture.
Ikea is dating event. Examining these five hundred thirty years, with varnish. Unsurprisingly, bedroom furniture designs from uniformly thick wood burned into love.
Types of Wood Joints: Do You Know the Difference?
Antique Furniture is one of the most fascinating sections of antique collecting. We buy what we like. Most antique furniture tends to be purchased by ordinary everyday people, rather than dedicated antique furniture collectors.
for your home or art collection, you need to know your stuff. Here are ten clues to tell a real Tiffany lamp from a fake one. A seven-drawer Shaker sewing table.
A dovetail joint or simply dovetail is a joint technique most commonly used in woodworking joinery. Noted for its resistance to being pulled apart tensile strength , the dovetail joint is commonly used to join the sides of a drawer to the front. A series of pins cut to extend from the end of one board interlock with a series of tails cut into the end of another board. The pins and tails have a trapezoidal shape.
Once glued, a wooden dovetail joint requires no mechanical fasteners. The dovetail joint probably pre-dates written history. Some of the earliest known examples of the dovetail joint are in furniture entombed with mummies dating from First Dynasty of ancient Egypt , as well the tombs of Chinese emperors. The dovetail design is an important method of distinguishing various periods of furniture. Dovetails can be cut by hand or by machines, often with an electric router and using one of a range of commercially available jigs or templates.
Although it is technically a straight forward process, hand-cutting dovetails requires a high degree of accuracy to ensure a snug fit and so can be difficult to master. The pins and tails must fit together with no gap between them so that the joint interlocks tightly with no movement. Thus the cutting of dovetails by hand is regarded as a mark of skill on the part of the craftsperson.
The angle of slope varies according to the wood used. Typically the slope is for softwoods and a shallower slope for hardwoods.
What is a Dovetail Joint on Antique Furniture?
Roll-top desks came into existence in the United States during the latter part of the 19th century. Each desk featured a rolling door that slid up and down to reveal or conceal built-in pigeonholes, shelves and a flat writing surface. The exterior facade of a roll-top desk as well as its construction can provide visual clues as to its age. Trustworthy resources can help confirm your age calculations.
Another thing about this joint it is a great indication on dating a piece of furniture. About 15 years ago when I was working with a local antique.
They were first used in English cabinet making in around 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 hand using a chisel and hammer. With the industrial revolution came the advent of the machine, and from the late 19 th century onwards, dovetails were often cut by machine. These are easy to spot as they are not nearly as fine as the hand cut dovetails. Dovetails act as a fine display of skilled craftsmanship by cabinetmakers.
A thing of beauty, they are also one of the strongest joints in cabinetmaking. 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.
How to Determine the Age of Antique Furniture
This joint is the first known mechanization for making drawers in the industrial revolution age until eventually being replaced by a machine that cuts dovetails. Patented by Charles Knapp of Waterloo, WI in , the Knapp Joint was a huge breakthrough for the furniture industry; machines called routers made circular cuts in wood far quicker than by hand. Large-scale furniture producers were now constructing high quality furniture faster than any small shop was that still relied on hand tools.
Dovetails: this joinery technique is most commonly used in woodworking joinery including furniture, cabinets, and traditional timber framing. In Europe the dovetail joint is also referred to as a swallowtail or fantail joint.
How to Determine the Age of Antique Furniture. The Painted Bench. Until the mid-seventeenth-century, drawer drawer were normally nailed into rebates cut in.
If done well, it can create a stable piece. There is a great explanation of furniture joinery here , but we wanted to give you a quick rundown of what to look for and what to avoid. Keep reading to find out more about joinery and check out our selection of gorgeous wood furniture here. This provides an extra boost of stability in case the initial joint ever loosens up.
Joinery is only one of the things you should look for when shopping for wood furniture. Check out our other blogs on wood types , veneers , and finishes to get a complete picture. Like what you read? Thanks for the information non joinery. My wife and I are going to have new joints put in our kitchen, and we are trying to decide on a material. I like that you mentioned that a box joint is a good way to connect wood because you can see the joints.
I have an American chest of drawers that has a single groove in the sides of the drawers where the faces appeared to have been slide down on during construction. Since there’s no nails, staples, or lack of grooves, yet there’s no dovetails or slide keyholes, I’m having trouble figuring out how to date it. I should mention that ther is also a price sticker on it that says “26cents plus sales tax” and the finish sort of looks like a matte colored stain sort of a mustard beige with a little colorful hand-painted decoration detail.
Dovetail: This method is similar to a box joint, but with notches in the shape of a trapezoid. This is the best method for constructing drawers.
Until the mid-seventeenth-century, drawer sides were normally nailed into rebates cut in the ends of the drawer fronts figure 1. All that prevented such a drawer front from being torn from the drawer when the handles were pulled were two to six wrought iron nails. In damp conditions, tannic acid in the oak would accelerate corrosion of the nails and drawer fronts were indeed ripped off on occasions. Lapped and nailed oak drawer construction, circa The late seventeenth-century and early eighteenth-century saw the implementation of several new developments in drawer and carcase construction, with some being more readily adopted than others.
An effective interlocking mechanical joint replaced the lapped and nailed joint around and quickly gained broad acceptance: Dovetails were simple to form with existing tools and provided excellent pulling resistance without the need for additional nails or pegs. With occasional exceptions figure 2 , veneered drawer fronts figure 3 and those with applied mouldings figure 4 were through-dovetailed — the simplest method of creating dovetails.
How to Identify Antique Wooden Furniture
When you want to refinish old wooden furniture, the best place to look is the family storeroom: Check the attic, basement, garage, or wherever unwanted furniture has collected. You may also discover a real antique or two — pieces handed down through the family for generations. Other good sources are secondhand stores, household auctions, and garage sales. With furniture, as with anything else, one person’s junk is another another’s treasure.
Antique stores are a good place to find furniture to refinish, but expect to pay for these pieces. If you’re interested in antiques, recent or old, research before you buy anything.
They are not like the chest of drawers that will spill its story in a heartbeat by The mechanical operation of the lopers is like having a date stamp. With the advent of strong dowel joints, reinforced with new resin glues.
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.