Dating antique school desk

When people think about antique school tables, they typically picture the rustic wood desks that lined the single room school houses of the 1800's, or the drab metal desks that filled the schools throughout the later 1900s.

However, the history of the antique school table is one filled with beautiful designs and elaborate workmanship. Patent number 400,738 features excellent illustrations of this beautiful desk.

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.

A close inspection shows no irregular saw cuts or variation from a skilled craftsman, but rather a precise and identical manufactured machined joint.

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.

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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.

Dovetail joints often hold two boards together in a box or drawer, almost like interlocking the fingertips of your hands.

As the dovetail joint evolved through the last one hundred thirty years, it becomes a clue for the age and authenticity of antique furniture.

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