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Dating Furniture using Dovetail Joints
History of Technology Heroes and Villains – A little light reading Here you will find a brief history of technology. Initially inspired by the development of batteries, it covers technology in general and includes some interesting little known, or long forgotten, facts as well as a few myths about the development of technology, the science behind it, the context in which it occurred and the deeds of the many personalities, eccentrics and charlatans involved.
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On the other hand, machine-cut dovetails definitely establish that the furniture is no older than about , when the dovetail-cutting machine was invented. Joinery Three clearly distinct drawer joints have been used on quality furniture: hand-cut dovetails, pin-and-scallop joints and machine-cut dovetails.
Types[ edit ] A mortise is a cavity cut into a timber to receive a tenon. There are several kinds of mortise: Stub mortise a shallow mortise, the depth of which depends on the size of the timber; also a mortise that does not go through the workpiece as opposed to a “through mortise”. Through mortise Wedged half- dovetail a mortise in which the back is wider, or taller, than the front, or opening.
The space for the wedge initially leaves room to insert the tenon. The wedge, after the tenon is engaged, prevents its withdrawal. Through-wedged half-dovetail a wedged half-dovetail mortise that passes entirely through the piece. A tenon is a projection on the end of a timber for insertion into a mortise. Usually the tenon is taller than it is wide. There are several kinds of tenon: Stub tenon short, the depth of which depends on the size of the timber; also a tenon that is shorter than the width of the mortised piece so the tenon does not show as opposed to a “through tenon”.
Through tenon a tenon that passes entirely through the piece of wood it is inserted into, being clearly visible on the back side.
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You’ll also be signed up to receive e-newsletters from Antique Trader and partners. Fred Taylor January 13, 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 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.
How to turn in more than one axis to create cabriole legs — a furniture feature made popular in the Queen Anne style. Multi-axis turning is a furniture-making technique dating to the Queen Anne period.
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. The narrow pieces of wood left between the larger notches are the “pins” and the wider pieces of wood between the smaller notches are the “tails. This style of dovetail was popular until about in American and Canadian furniture and was often hand-cut, with the use of precision saws and chisels. Pin and Cove Round Style Pin and cove dovetailing also referred to as round style became popular during the Victorian era.
The principle of fitting two notched boards together is the same as tail and pin dovetailing, although unlike the almost triangular pins of the former, the pins of round style dovetails are semi-circular. This style was used in the United States and Canada, but did not gain popularity among European builders. A stencil-like device called a jig was used to create these dovetails.
A typical Boley WW-Type watchmaker’s lathe with a centre height of 50 mm, mm between centres and a single foot. The headstock spindle was hardened and ground, fitted with hardened and ground precision bearings and the pulley provided with a ring of indexing holes located by a plunger visible at the left hand end of the headstock. A miniature compound screw-feed slide was available to special order – as was a wide range of other finely made accessories including capstan conversion parts.
The Boley 2 lathe was fitted with a screw-feed compound slide rest as standard. Boley watchmakers’ lathes can be found with two “styles” of WW Webster Whitcombe” bed:
As solid as dovetails, Knapp joint solidly dates antique furniture drawers By: Fred Taylor | January 13, 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 the construction of the piece.
You’ll also be signed up to receive e-newsletters from Antique Trader and partners. Fred Taylor May 26, 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 drawers 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. 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.
The search for the answer to this question is the basis of our built in time line. The joint is then nailed either through the front or through the side. In many cases the nails are installed in cut outs in the drawer side so they do not protrude above the surface and impede the travel of the drawer. This is typical construction of the 16th and 17th centuries, including Pilgrim drawers.
However, this joint had two historical problems.
Mortise and tenon
All have single-graded cuts which were probably produced by use of a chisel and then hardened using powdered antler or horn, a practice described by Theophilus. Other Types of Tools There are a few types of tools for which we do not have surviving examples in the archaeological record. However, workshop debris and literary references provide additional clues.
Through dovetail joints are referred to as English dovetail joints. Half-blind Dovetail Joints or Single-lap Dovetail A half-blind dovetail joint also known as the single-lap dovetail joint is exactly opposite of a through joint because the end grain is not visible on the boards.
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.
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.
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Furniture Wood 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. However, if you have questions about how old your piece is, consult an expert first, says Teri Masaschi , author of Foolproof Wood Finishing: Here are some general guidelines to assessing the age and quality of your piece.
Dovetail joints often hold two boards together in a box or drawer, almost like interlocking the fingertips of your hands.
See Article History Stonehenge, prehistoric stone circle monument, cemetery, and archaeological site located on Salisbury Plain , about 8 miles 13 km north of Salisbury , Wiltshire , England. As a prehistoric stone circle, it is unique because of its artificially shaped sarsen stones blocks of Cenozoic silcrete , arranged in post-and-lintel formation, and because of the remote origin of its smaller bluestones igneous and other rocks from — miles — km away, in South Wales.
Sunlight shining through a portion of the stone circle at Stonehenge, Wiltshire, Eng. Speculation and excavation Stonehenge has long been the subject of historical speculation, and ideas about the meaning and significance of the structure continued to develop in the 21st century. English antiquarian John Aubrey in the 17th century and his compatriot archaeologist William Stukeley in the 18th century both believed the structure to be a Druid temple.
This idea has been rejected by more-recent scholars, however, as Stonehenge is now understood to have predated by some 2, years the Druids recorded by Julius Caesar. Stonehenge, on the Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, England. Most of these speculations, too, have been rejected by experts.
Types of Dovetails in Antiques
Through dovetail joints are most commonly used on box construction and carcass. Through dovetail joints are referred to as English dovetail joints. Half-blind Dovetail Joints or Single-lap Dovetail A half-blind dovetail joint also known as the single-lap dovetail joint is exactly opposite of a through joint because the end grain is not visible on the boards.
Sockets house the tails at the end of the boards so the dovetail ends are invisible. Half-blind dovetail joints are commonly used for attaching drawer fronts. Half blind dovetail vs.
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Note the decoration to the tumbler and spring. Below, a diagram of the Banbury lock, showing mechanism set into a wooden stock, and the distinctive key with a collar set within the width of the bit. When considering church locks it seems particularly appropriate that the earliest depiction of a lock should be found on a bas-relief in an Egyptian temple at Kamak dating from BC. Although not immediately recognisable to modern eyes, and being somewhat cumbersome in operation, it functioned effectively.
The principle, that of raising pins to create a shearline to allow movement, was rediscovered by Linus Yale Senior in and further developed and refined by his son Linus Junior between and to give the pin tumbler cylinder lock so widely used today. The Greeks are credited with the invention of the keyhole, the point of a sickle shaped implement being inserted through a small hole in the door, and, with a slight rotary motion, closing or withdrawing a large bolt A Linear B tablet dating to BC, excavated in Crete, was translated.
Thus the Mayors and their wives and the Vice-Mayors and key-bearers and supervisors of figs and hoeing will contribute bronze for ships and the points of arrows and spears. By the time that Vesuvius erupted in 79AD, when a metal worker’s shop was overwhelmed, locks had been developed and had assumed a form recognisable to modern eyes. Many have been excavated both from Pompeii and from the numerous Roman sites in Europe and the Middle East.
Essential Hand Tool List
Multi-axis turning is a furniture-making technique dating to the Queen Anne period. Queen Anne reigned from to , but she never used a piece of her furniture, nor was the style called by that name until a century and a half later. The style really took off during the reign of George I, her successor, which is why the Englishcall the style Georgian. It was tremendously popular in the Colonies, becoming the predominant style of the eighteenth century.
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.
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. 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. The massive horizontal stone lintels at Stonehenge were connected by dovetailing, more rounded than triangular.
A 17th-century Chinese canopy bed at the Victoria and Albert Museum is held together with dovetailing. The use of the joinery technique stretches back into prehistory, but its utility is still relevant. Today, dovetail joints are machine made, and that fact is what helps to pinpoint the age of the chest of drawers from the attic. Machine-made dovetails are thicker than graceful, asymmetrical hand-cut joints.
Telltale Dovetail Detail Woodworkers cut dovetail joints in the latter part of the 17th century in England, using small delicate saws and wood chisels. The marks are often visible, especially on the inside or underside of a piece.
Check the drawers for the first sign of age on antique furniture
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Boley Lathe No. 1a. A typical Boley WW-Type watchmaker’s lathe with a centre height of 50 mm, mm between centres and a single foot. The headstock spindle was hardened and ground, fitted with hardened and ground precision bearings and the pulley provided with a ring of indexing holes located by a plunger visible at the left hand end of the headstock.
I have researched the type and use of some of these materials and provided a summary of each further on in this section. Smart materials are those that change in response to changing conditions in their surroundings or in the application of other directed influences — such as passing an electric charge through them. Modern products increasingly use them as imaginative designers see the potential they offer.
Shirts that change colour with changes in temperature and thermometers that are in the from of printed strips use thermochromic inks whilst Photochromic inks respond to changes in light conditions. Clothing also uses inks that have this characteristic and have patterns that change with altering light conditions. To be considered smart, a material has to have one or more of the following features: Some examples are as following: Piezoelectric materials are materials that produce a voltage when stress is applied.
Since this effect also applies in the reverse manner, a voltage across the sample will produce stress within the sample. Suitably designed structures made from these materials can therefore be made that bend, expand or contract when a voltage is applied. Shape memory alloys and shape memory polymers are materials in which large deformation can be induced and recovered through temperature changes or stress changes pseudoelasticity.