Dating furniture by dovetail

Dovetailing is a method of precisely cutting two boards so that they can be interlocked securely together.

Dovetailing typically requires no nails or other hardware.

She received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Houghton College and a Master of Arts in church history from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

She also loves art, cooking, gardening and books of all types.

Drawers constructed with this type of dovetail have a smaller capacity than drawers of an equivalent size made with English dovetails.

Bethany Seeley has been publishing articles since 2000 on topics relating to church history and theology.

This style of dovetail was popular until about 1870 in American and Canadian furniture and was often hand-cut, with the use of precision saws and chisels.

While the joint had been refined and perfected, it was still too difficult to be made by a machine.

Before this innovation, most furniture consisted of simple boxes called coffers or some type of open-shelving arrangement and cabinets with shelves behind doors, such as the old court cupboard.

Dovetail drawback As useful as the dovetail joint started out to be, it did have a serious drawback—it was hard to make by hand, and of course, everything of that period was made by hand.

One of the first things to be looked at when trying to determine the age of a piece of older or antique furniture is the type of joinery used in its construction.

Knowing the history of the technology of various periods goes a long way toward explaining clues about the age of furniture, and none is more important (or accessible) than the type of joint used to secure a drawer. The interlocking dovetail joint came into general use in the William and Mary period in the late 1600s and very early 1700s, and for the first time, allowed the construction of reliable drawers, a device with extremely limited use or convenience until then.

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