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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.Other drawer joints include sliding keyhole or French dovetails that were have been used since the 1890's.In the 1890's, American furniture began to be mass produced, with interchangeable parts and speedy production for the growing and affluent middle class.The slow and laborious crafting and carving, one piece at a time, by a master woodworker was not suited to the new mass market.When the joint is expertly executed, it is a thing of beauty, and a secure joining of two boards that can last for centuries.A little glue cements the connection, and a good dovetail joint has great strength and durability.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.Each cut is exactly like the others, each “tail” and “pin” are exactly matched.
A close inspection shows no irregular saw cuts or variation from a skilled craftsman, but rather a precise and identical manufactured machined joint.
There was resistance - in England, carpenters unions went on strike over the use of electric saws, fearing the end of their livelihoods.
Nevertheless, by the 1950's, power tools were used in almost all furniture construction across Great Britain.
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.
This over-view of the dovetailing techniques should easily help identification and dating of most furniture from the last 200 years.