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. This is a big topic to tackle and it will not be possible to cover many details in this short column. Oak joint stools, on the other hand, have been around for five hundred years.
Are they tapered and pointed with smooth grooves, or are the ends cut and the slots offset?
Any combination of these features can help place the age of the furniture.
Hunting for antique American furniture is a popular pastime, but how do you really know what you're buying is a true classic, such as a Shaker or Chippendale piece?
By examining the shape and condition of the furniture nails and screws as well as the wood and finish, you can get a fairly good idea of when the furniture was built, and possibly by whom.
When the joint is expertly executed, it is a thing of beauty, and a secure joining of two boards that can last for centuries.
A little glue cements the connection, and a good dovetail joint has great strength and durability.Some popular antiques are quite well documented and may be tied to a specific time period in history making an age determination quite simple. Adding to the complexity is the proliferation of copycat builders and modern furniture craftsmen who do an admirable job of cloning authentic antique furniture right down to the tool marks and date stamps.Determining the age of antique furniture is the first step in establishing a proper valuation, as well as verifying that the piece is indeed an authentic furnishing from the era in question.If you can feel slight, parallel ridges and hollows, the piece was hand planed, probably prior to the mid-19th Century.Construction techniques can assist you in dating furniture. In the 17th Century, butt and rabbet joints were used.Probably the easiest to recognize are the curved marks left by the circular saw, circa 1840. The vertical, crisp, uniform marks left by the band saw are not very deep.