Different Joinery Methods Used in Antique Furniture

Different Joinery Methods Used in Antique Furniture

In every style or era of furniture, there are unique characteristics that you can find.  In Federalist-style furniture, you can find many contrasted dark and light veneers, clean edges, straight lines, and unique carvings.  If you look closely, you can also notice the different joinery methods that are used to make antique furniture.


Joinery methods are woodworking techniques that join together two pieces of wood.  What method is used will determine what the joint looks like, how strong it is, and how durable it is.  One of the joinery methods that have been used for thousands of years is the mortise and tenon joint.  In fact, many (if not most) antique furniture was made with this type of technique because it’s one of the strongest antique furniture joints.


The mortise and tenon joint is formed by cutting a square tongue on the end of one piece of wood and an equal size square hole or slot in another.  The tongue of the first piece is then inserted in the slot of the second.  Sometimes, the joints are locked together with a pin or peg which is inserted through the joint.


Another popular joinery method that’s used is called the dovetail joint.  In this method, a series of pins are cut to extend from the end of one board to interlock with a series of tails cut in the end of another board.  Once glued, the wooden dovetail joints require no technical fastens.


Aside from mortise and tenon joints and dovetail joints, some of the common joinery methods found in antique furniture include dowel joints, dado joints, rabbet joints, lap joints, and miter joints.  These methods are used to make dining tables, chests and cabinets, and even luxury antique beds.

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