Dating antique secretary desk
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.
A close inspection shows no irregular saw cuts or variation from a skilled craftsman, but rather a precise and identical manufactured machined joint.
These machine-cut dovetails are as strong and long lasting as the hand-made joints, and became the standard of better American furniture ever since the late 1890's.
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.
For thousands of years, a dovetail joint was created by a skilled cabinetmaker using small, precision saws and wood chisels.
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.
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.
Popular here into the 1890's, these joints never gained acceptance outside of the U. The next technological development in joinery was again American.