Dating english oak chests
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.
In the 1890's, American furniture began to be mass produced, with interchangeable parts and speedy production for the growing and affluent middle class.
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.
Genuine hand made dovetails like these were the standard of good furniture craftsmanship until about 1870, when American ingenuity developed the “pin and cove” or round style dovetail, often seen on late Victorian and Eastlake furniture.
These were cut with a jig or pattern, and an apprentice could create a very well fitting and attractive joint. European cabinetmakers continued their hand-cut dovetails well into the 1900's.