Dating antiques joinery

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Blog: Read Senior Editor Steve Shanesy’s report on his repair of a valuable antique drawer.

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.Construction techniques can assist you in dating furniture. In the 17th Century, butt and rabbet joints were used.Hand-cut dovetails appeared late in that century and for the next 80 years or so, dovetails were wide, stubby, and crude. By the end of the 1700s, dovetails became thin and delicate. If you find Phillips head screws throughout, you don't have an antique. If it is 1/32nd of an inch thick, it is Victorian or newer, as compared to the 17th and 18th Century 1/16" to 1/8" veneers.Also, clearly visible scribe marks and saw or chisel overcuts frequently remain on the wood.If you’re not sure by looking at the outside of the drawer, open it farther and look at the inside corner where overcuts are more likely to appear.

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