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I just wanted to date the piece by how the drawer was made.Over the years of working on hundreds of pieces of antique furniture, I’ve developed a quick and fairly accurate system for dating and determining the origin of any piece of furniture containing drawers. Construction Drawer construction has changed several times in the last 200 years.By Bob Flexner Pages 54-56 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.Until the mid-seventeenth-century, drawer sides were normally nailed into rebates cut in the ends of the drawer fronts (fig. All that prevented such a drawer front from being torn from the drawer when the handles were pulled were two to six wrought iron nails. Lapped and nailed oak drawer construction, circa 1670. 4) were through-dovetailed – the simplest method of creating dovetails. In damp conditions, tannic acid in the oak would accelerate corrosion of the nails and drawer fronts were indeed ripped off on occasions. The late seventeenth-century and early eighteenth-century saw the implementation of several new developments in drawer (and carcase) construction, with some being more readily adopted than others. An effective interlocking mechanical joint replaced the lapped and nailed joint around 1660 and quickly gained broad acceptance: Dovetails were simple to form with existing tools and provided excellent pulling resistance without the need for additional nails or pegs.

Hand cut dovetails were used to hold the sides of drawers together, but also to join the structural members of case furniture.With the industrial revolution came the advent of the machine, and from the late 19 century onwards, dovetails were often cut by machine.These are easy to spot as they are not nearly as fine as the hand cut dovetails.Dovetails act as a fine display of skilled craftsmanship by cabinetmakers.A thing of beauty, they are also one of the strongest joints in cabinetmaking.

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