dating furniture joints

Dorothy Sykes, 33 years old


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Showroom - Frequently Asked Questions. 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 dating furniture joints, 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.

A while back, my wife and I were visiting friends who wanted to show us their collection of antique furniture. At one point we went into their bedroom and I headed directly for a very old-looking chest-of-drawers. Construction Drawer construction has changed several dating furniture joints in the last years. Simply pull a drawer out a few inches, glance at the joinery on the side and feel the drawer bottom underneath — essentially a single motion. In addition, the wood used for the drawer sides and bottoms helps determine whether the furniture is American or European.

PHONE: This is a big topic to tackle and it will not be possible to cover many details in this short column. To dating furniture joints age, consider the form and function, tool marks, construction techniques, and materials used in the furniture.
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In an effort to determine the range of the age of a piece of furniture, we have the beginnings of a built-in time line if the piece has drawers. The concept of the modern chest of drawers as we know it, a case containing a series of more or less matching drawers, became a reality in the latter part of the 17th century. Of course single drawers and combinations of dating furniture joints were made earlier but appeared usually as an adjunct to the lift top or dower chest which was the most common chest type in the that century. The most common storage facility of the era was the cupboard or court cupboard consisting of open shelves below doors which concealed more shelves. A drawer is a fairly difficult thing to build when you get right down to it. It is a five sided box that must fit perfectly within a case a six-sided box and be removable on demand without binding or breaking either the drawer or the case. To do so it must incorporate some type of suspension mechanism to allow it to travel in and out of the case.

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 dating furniture joints 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 beforealthough 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.

Dovetailing reveals the age and hand-cut or machine-made origins of wood furniture. Dating furniture joints 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. Egyptian pharaohs were buried with fine furnishings and chests of valuables and rare spices to accompany them to the afterlife. Boxy shapes with joined wood angles were connected by dovetailing, a fact that contributed to the intact state of the grave goods when the pyramids and burial chambers were excavated.
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