What Do Dovetail Joints Say About Furniture

There is far more to dovetail joints than something you might have learned as part of a woodworking class.

Dovetail joints have been around for thousands of years and have a long history in furniture making here in the UK.

Like anything else with a long history, dovetail joints will have a story to tell about their origins and they can even offer clues to when an item of furniture was produced.

Dovetail joins were used in Egyptian tombs and in English cabinet making from the mid-17th century onwards.

Incredibly the dovetails you see in furniture of this period and indeed up until the latter part of the 19th century were all produced by craftsmen using nothing more than a hammer and chisel.

As the skills of craftsmen developed over the centuries, the joins became less and less obvious, particularly in furniture belonging to wealthier members of society who could afford the best. As is evident nowadays, these pieces of furniture were certainly built to last and still retain their shape hundreds of years later.

You will of course find plenty of examples of furniture where dovetails will be larger and not as neat which is particularly the case with country furniture.