Dating furniture legs

08 Sep

Tiny angled saw cuts were followed by careful cutting by a sharpened chisel on both sides to avoid splintering.One board had tiny “tails,” and the other had the larger “pins,” carefully measured to match and fit together exactly.The use of hand tools and hand-cut dovetails is now the province of hobbyists and a few small shops creating authentic replicas of antique furniture.This over-view of the dovetailing techniques should easily help identification and dating of most furniture from the last 200 years.

In the 1890's, American furniture began to be mass produced, with interchangeable parts and speedy production for the growing and affluent middle class.

Here is an early example of machine-cut dovetails on a 1920's sideboard from a dining set: European cabinetmakers continued to produce hand-cut dovetails through the 1930's.

Electric power tools, like routers and various types of saws were put into widespread use after World War II in the 1940's.

The slow and laborious crafting and carving, one piece at a time, by a master woodworker was not suited to the new mass market.

Steam power, transferred by pulleys and leather belts, operated saws, carving machines and routers that could copy an original pattern exactly.