Dating furniture by dovetail
This makes it difficult to pull the joint apart and virtually impossible when glue is added.This type of joint is used in box constructions such as drawers, jewellery boxes, cabinets and other pieces of furniture where strength is required.Many people make the mistake of looking at one or two details while neglecting the rest, but judging antique furniture is a lot like judging a painting: look at the details, but also take in an overall perspective.For starters, look closely at the hardware—pulls, knobs, hinges, screws, nails, whatever. Keep in mind that hardware goes in and out of style just like everything else, so a large majority of antique furniture has had its hardware replaced at least once.Old nails were handmade, square and often had beaten heads and were generally uneven in appearance; whilst modern nails (post circa 1880) are mass produced and uniform.Look for a blackened area of wood around corroded iron nails.Always look for worn components in the right places, take your time to check the piece carefully and look for signs of use on the base of the feet, drawer runners, chair rail stretchers and any area of potential wear. Email: [email protected] normal opening hours are Monday To Friday 8.30am - 5.00pm and Saturday 10.00am - 4.00pm.
Note whether the drawer has dovetails, and whether they are machine-cut dovetails or hand-cut. This is usually a sign that the piece is indeed antique—and high-quality at that, since rear dovetails are very uncommon even in antiques.
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. Once glued, a wooden dovetail joint requires no mechanical fasteners.
The dovetail joint probably pre-dates written history.
A scribe line was made by the Cabinet Maker when marking out the dovetail joints, it is not always present by any means but can help to re-inforce an opinion.
There are some tricks of the trade that can help you date furniture, however you will be very lucky to find a genuine antique from the 1500’s or 1600’s.
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In Europe the dovetail joint is also called a swallow-tail joint or a fantail joint.