Super Thin Dovetails

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While visiting the Ohio Valley Antique Mall in Fairfield, OH today, I came across this mahogany empire dresser with the thinnest dovetails I had ever seen. The pins were 1/8″ at the bottom and tapered to about nothing at the top. Whoever cut these bad boys definitely took their dovetail cutting skills to the next level.

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8 Replies to “Super Thin Dovetails”

  1. Perhaps only the top and bottom half-dovetails are real and the others are just skillfully executed inlay marquetry. It’s been known to happen.
    Actually I can picture doing the very delicate work with a sharp knife and a gentlema’s saw. Not that I am going to try it anytime soon.

  2. Thin dovetails were common in the Federal and Empire periods. Thin dovetails are designed to reduce the amount of exposed end grain. By reducing the end grain the drawer fronts expand less during high humidity periods and remain fitting better. They were not just cosmetic. Early Empire was the last handwork period prior to the industrial revolution, with the coming of machine dovetails they couldn’t be made that thin any more.

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