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An Unjustified Mystique: Period Dovetails Up-Close… Issue Two Table of Contents

The modern obsession with perfectly-spaced, aerospace-tight, single-kerf-pin dovetails is rampant. Why is Instagram full of immaculately executed dovetails? Or, more importantly, why does today’s woodworker agonize over the few thou of an inch gap on these joints? It’s because they haven’t seen period dovetails. Although artisans of the past were exceptionally skilled, I would like to bust the myth that they obsessed over dovetails as much as we do. It is apparent from the work they left behind that the vast majority of pre-industrial artisans were more concerned with the strength of the joint than they were with impressing their “social following”. It is not uncommon to find noticeably irregular spacing of the tails, considerable variation in the angle of...

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