Dating early american furniture
Because the new machine made screw was inexpensive, it was readily accepted by cabinetmakers. Mercer, contains photographs, drawings, and patent information on nails, hinges, screws, hardware, planing machines, etc.
The puritan New England cabinetmakers built simple unadorned cupboards painted in drab colors. The slot still had to be cut by hand with a hacksaw. Seldom was the cut placed exactly in the center. These early latches were inlaid into cabinet doors rather than being attached to the surface, as were the later cast iron latches.
For the first ten years of production, machine made screws were made with no slot in their head. By contrast, the shaft of the machine made screw tapers to a point. The circular saw leaves marks on wood that look like this. The screw above was handmade. The rough sawed lumber used in furniture construction was smoothed with either a hand held plane, or a planing machine.
Furniture built in the Midwest and the South is different from New England made pieces. Furniture styles linger for years.
The circular saw was limited to cutting thin pieces of wood such as shingles, clapboards, and laths until the early s. Each change is documented, most are patented. The methods of working wood also changed during this time. Country furniture does have its styles based predominately on religion and region. Items made after are made using this new screw.
The catholic French and the Irish built cupboards with bold moldings, cut out feet, raised panels and they painted their cupboards in bright colors. The style of nails changed a dozen times, the hinge changed four times, the screw changed three times, and so did latches and pulls. The hinge on the right is a modern hinge.
Dealers who specialize in country and primitive furniture have depended on the above methods plus the study of nails for dating their antiques. The up and down saw leaves marks on wood that look like this.
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