Types of Dovetails in Antiques By Bethany Seeley ; Updated April 12, When appraising or inspecting a piece of antique furniture, a dealer or prospective buyer will look closely at the drawers. The style of dovetailing used by the maker can provide clues as to the age of the piece, as well as reveal whether it was made in the United States, Canada or Europe. 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. Examples of dovetailed joints have been found in pieces from ancient Egyptian and Chinese civilizations, and it remains a popular method of joinery today. Tail and Pin English Dovetail One of the most basic type of dovetailing found in antiques is the “tail and pin” type, also known as an English dovetail. This consists of one board with a series of small angled notches cut into one end and a second board with a series of larger notches.
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Sale Wood – Of all the materials man has used for making contemporary furniture as well as classic furniture, wood has always been the most popular, in spite of the difficulties involved both in working it and in preserving it against the ravages of time and termites. Many other products, natural or manufactured, have been employed to embellish wood, and some have briefly challenged its supremacy.
Nevertheless a widespread and deep-rooted preference for wood as a furniture material constantly reasserts itself. Contemporary fashions for particular woods come and go, however, and vary not only from country to country, but also from region to region.
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Egypt Beds, stools, throne chairs, and boxes were the chief forms of furniture in ancient Egypt. Although only a few important examples of actual furniture survive, stone carvings, fresco paintings, and models made as funerary offerings present rich documentary evidence. The bed may have been the earliest form; it was constructed of wood and consisted of a simple framework supported on four legs. A flax cord, plaited, was lashed to the sides of the framework.
The cords were woven together from opposite sides of the framework to form a springy surface for the sleeper. In the 18th dynasty c. The great beds found in the tomb of Tutankhamen were put together with bronze hooks and staples so that they could be dismantled or folded to facilitate storage and transportation; furniture existed in small quantities and when the pharaohs toured their lands, they took their beds with them.
Dating Furniture Using Dovetail Joints
For What It’s Worth How can you tell the age of a piece of furniture? This is a big topic to tackle and it will not be possible to cover many details in this short column. I’ve included a brief list of references, if you want to begin studying on your own. To determine age, consider the form and function, tool marks, construction techniques, and materials used in the furniture. Check for evidence of age.
The Shrinking and Swelling of W ood and Its Effect on Furniture By Carl A. Eckelman joints to open and mating parts to fit together poorly. This is a serious problem with miter joints in case doors, for example, which present an the shrinking and swelling. W.
Although we are retired as restorers we will continue to run the weekend courses. Find out more Country chair making Learn how country chairs are made in a two-day individual tuition class. Available only this year because we retired in June For Sale We offer quality chairs and furniture for sale. We run weekend antique restoration courses. We are now selling our private collection of antique chairs. A Jack-of-all-trades WordPress theme.
We think that all restoration including antique chair restoration should be appropriate to the particular piece. Sometimes the conservation approach is a consideration, especially for rare and valuable items.
Dating Furniture Using Dovetail Joints
Though the first item you see may have been made in China, it was more likely made in Vietnam, or if it is a piece of furniture, in Europe. A new, redesigned Shanghai store opened in , replacing the original outlet. IKEA opened its first Beijing store in early IKEA expects to have 10 large stores up and running in China by Important to this physical expansion, of course, is revenue expansion. Sales were up 50 percent in the first three months of alone.
The joint is a cove and pin–a popular machine made joint from around I made these with a combination of machine and hand work. The table is made of poplar, stained and varnished.
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Antique Furniture Dovetails
Dovetails are interlocking carved wood joints used in cabinetry to connect two pieces of wood — drawer fronts and sides, cabinet or cupboard corners. The technique produces a sturdy, long-lasting connection. Examining these joints helps determine the age of old furniture. It’s called a “dovetail” joint because the flat-bottomed triangular shape of the wood insert looks like a dove’s tail. Whether that tail is fat, skinny, symmetrical or used sparingly reveals a clue to the origins of the piece.
The Pharaoh’s Footstool Egyptian pharaohs were buried with fine furnishings and chests of valuables and rare spices to accompany them to the afterlife.
Understand the many types and applications of rabbet joints. One of the first joinery cuts that new woodworkers try is the rabbet. A rabbet is simply an open-sided channel or recess along the edge or across the end of a board or panel. Easy to cut, it helps locate parts during assembly, and it.
The practice of using natural objects as rudimentary pieces of furniture likely dates to the beginning of human civilisation. The site dates from — BC and due to a shortage of wood in Orkney, the people of Skara Brae were forced to build with stone, a readily available material that could be worked easily and turned into items for use within the household.
Each house shows a high degree of sophistication and was equipped with an extensive assortment of stone furniture, ranging from cupboards, dressers and beds to shelves, stone seats, and limpet tanks. The stone dresser was regarded as the most important as it symbolically faces the entrance in each house and is therefore the first item seen when entering, perhaps displaying symbolic objects, including decorative artwork such as several Neolithic Carved Stone Balls also found at the site.
Pieces found here include tables and inlaid serving stands. There are also surviving works from the 9th-8th-century BC Assyrian palace of Nimrud. The earliest surviving carpet, the Pazyryk Carpet was discovered in a frozen tomb in Siberia and has been dated between the 6th and 3rd century BC. Ancient Egypt[ edit ] Civilisation in ancient Egypt began with the clearance and irrigation of land along the banks of the River Nile ,  which began in about BC. By that time, society in the Nile Valley was already engaged in organized agriculture and the construction of large buildings.
Mortar was in use by around BC The inhabitants of the Nile Valley and delta were self-sufficient and were raising barley and emmer an early variety of wheat and stored it in pits lined with reed mats. The use of scarf joints to join two shorter pieces together and form a longer beam was one example of this,  as well as construction of veneers in which low quality cheap wood was used as the main building material, with a thin layer of expensive wood on the surface.
In the last few centuries Rome gradually superseded Greece as the foremost culture of Europe, leading eventually to Greece becoming a province of Rome in BC.
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Collecting antique furniture is a costly endeavor. You don’t want to make any mistakes and buy a misrepresented piece that you thought was worth hundreds of dollars or more. Signs of Age Measure a piece of wood furniture. If the furniture is old, its dimensions will not be uniform – it won’t be the same width throughout, and a tabletop will not be completely round.
F alling in love with brown furniture again also means renewing our appreciation of the skills and traditions of English furniture-making – dovetail joints, turned legs, recessed brass handles.
A new joint One of the first things to be looked at when trying to determine the age of a piece of antique furniture is the type of joinery used in the construction of the piece. 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. Mostly what we see are dovetails of a sort. The interlocking dovetail joint came into general use in the William and Mary period in the late s and very early s, and for the first time allowed the construction of reliable drawers, a device with extremely limited use or convenience until then.
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. By the end of the 18th century some progress had been made in furniture technology. Rotary saws were on the horizon and all nails were no longer made one at a time by a blacksmith. While the joint had been refined and perfected it was still too difficult to be made by a machine.
Some progress had been made by the use of jigs to help guide the hand powered saws in their cutting but essentially the dovetail was the last hold out of hand work in a machine era. Several inventors were hard at work on the problem in the s and most concentrated on trying to duplicate the handmade dovetail using a machine, that is until Mr.
Knapp of Waterloo, Wisconsin applied himself to the task. He did some creative thinking and solved the problem not by duplicating the dovetail joint but by inventing another type of joint entirely that was at least as good as the dovetail and could be made by machinery. If you look at much old furniture you undoubtedly have seen this unusual looking arrangement and wondered what the heck it was. And by knowing that, you also get some very valuable information about the age of the piece on which you saw the joint.
Authenticating, Fakes and Frauds of Period Furniture
Dovetails – A Clue for Dating Antiques by Ken Melchert 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. 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.
Craftmaster Furniture Inc. was founded in in Taylorsville, NC. In that part of North Carolina, furniture is more than a business- it’s a tradition. Generations of people have been building furniture there dating all the way back to the ’s.
The practice of using natural objects as rudimentary pieces of furniture likely dates to the beginning of human civilisation. The site dates from — BC and due to a shortage of wood in Orkney, the people of Skara Brae were forced to build with stone, a readily available material that could be worked easily and turned into items for use within the household. Each house shows a high degree of sophistication and was equipped with an extensive assortment of stone furniture, ranging from cupboards, dressers and beds to shelves, stone seats, and limpet tanks.
The stone dresser was regarded as the most important as it symbolically faces the entrance in each house and is therefore the first item seen when entering, perhaps displaying symbolic objects, including decorative artwork such as several Neolithic Carved Stone Balls also found at the site. Pieces found here include tables and inlaid serving stands.
There are also surviving works from the 9th-8th-century BC Assyrian palace of Nimrud. The earliest surviving carpet, the Pazyryk Carpet was discovered in a frozen tomb in Siberia and has been dated between the 6th and 3rd century BC. Ancient Egypt[ edit ] Civilisation in ancient Egypt began with the clearance and irrigation of land along the banks of the River Nile ,  which began in about BC.
By that time, society in the Nile Valley was already engaged in organized agriculture and the construction of large buildings.
Dating furniture dovetail joints
First, the age of the piece: Pin and cove joints or Knapp joints were used during a very short window of time, between and They were an upgrade in terms of ease from the hand-cut joints that were used earlier because they were created with a machine that had been invented by Charles Knapp. Apparently, inventors had been unsuccessfully trying to perfect a machine-made dovetail but Knapp solved the problem by creating a new type of dovetail altogether.
In the s, American furniture makers started using the sliding keyhole or French dovetail. The development of power tools such as routers and saws made it possible to make this type of joint. French dovetails consist of a drawer front piece, into which long grooves are cut.
Making Opendesk Furniture – 2. Fixingless, glueless joints Published by Hugh Lyons on 11 November Modern mass manufactured furniture employs a range of fixings to ensure that it can be produced efficiently, flat packed, and assembled quickly and easily. This is a problem for open making, any fixings used may not be available to other makers. The solution to this, design out the fixings. Furniture originated without fixings so this is nothing new, joints are fit tightly and glued so they are set in place, problem solved.
However, introduce the requirement for disassembly and you need to remove the glue. What you are left with is fixingless, glueless joints, essentially, tolerance joints. Tolerance joints rely on the components being made so accurately that they fit together snuggly allowing no movement. Of course in the real world there is variation in cutting accuracy and material thickness making it very difficult to maintain a snug joint and requiring designs and cutting files to be made for the exact material thickness you are using.
However once all these factors are considered it is possible to create brilliant furniture with fixingless, glueless furniture. Most designs on the Opendesk platform are designed on the principle of not requiring fixings or glue.
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More Furniture Styles Buying period antique furniture takes detective work The original finish on an antique is part of it’s valued charm When shopping for antique furniture be sure and take the following “tools” with you: To determine if a wood worm hole in antique furniture is genuine, insert a sewing needle into the hole, if it goes in straight it is a “fake hole” made by a drill.
A buyer’s guide for an antique chest of drawers. When studying a chest of drawers it is important to be ordered in your thought processes.. One of the first questions to ask yourself is what wood is the chest made from?
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