Quality of hand cut dovetails...

I saw some end tables made by someone I think is a competent woodworker. He tried to copy antiques, to the point of using draw bottom raised panels that slide in from the back.
His half blind dovetails were not very good. There were gaps and one of the pins was partly broken. I don't know anything about hand work, but would consider them to be terrible if done on my omnijig. Is that considered acceptable on hand cut dovetails, or on replica antiques?
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nope
--
"Keep your ass behind you."

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Of course not. Why do you ask?
View the Rob Cosman tapes and you won't have to ask. :-)
FWIW, I have a Leigh Jig and dovetail saws. I use them both, whatever is appropriate.
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Toller wrote:

That sounds like my attempts at hand cut dovetails. That standard is OK for something I was practicing on that ends up part of the tool box in the corner of the shop but it's not anything that I would want to show anyone as an example of my workmanship. On the other hand if he's trying to exactly duplicate a piece and that's how it was on the original . . .
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Sun, Mar 11, 2007, 3:57am (EDT+4) snipped-for-privacy@Yahoo.com (Toller) doth squeryeth: <snip> Is that considered acceptable on hand cut dovetails, or onreplica antiques?
I don't do dovetails myself, but if I did I would certainly want them done to a higher standard than that, at least for anything done that wouldn't remain in the shop. However, I have seen worse on high priced "replica", or whatever you wanted to call them, antiques - and done on purpose. I can see duplicating, or replicating, a piece of antique furniture - what I cannot see is "distressing" it, or otherwise trying to make it look old. Something like that can only go down in value as the years go by as far as I'm concerned. I think often too that that's just another way of trying to pass off crappy work as a "collectable" at a high price. You might not like what I make, but at least I'll try to do decent work on it.
JOAT It was too early in the morning for it to be early in the morning. That was the only thing that he currently knew for sure. - Clodpool
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Well ,on antiques the dovetails often are no longer tight and are broken from miss use. He may have done a better job than you think.
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Phil Lowe gave a presentation to my woodworking club recently. Part of his career has been to reproduce exactly an antique piece or make a new piece similar in style to old pieces. And to repair or make missing pieces on antiques. As research he frequently inspects, measures, etc. the genuine antique pieces. He commented that you will see a wide variety of craftsmanship levels on antiques. And it is not correlated with the niceness or reputation or cost of the original piece. He said you cannot generalize that inside pieces such as drawer boxes were made quick and rough while the attention was placed on the exterior that was on display. He mentioned famous pieces that were commissioned for high prices back in the day also had pretty rough pieces on them. On one piece he was fixing by some famous builder it had some writing on the bottom of one of the drawer panels. The owner of the antique thought it was signed by the builder. Something Butler I think and the writing started with "B". But it turned out the writing was just "Bottom" to indicate the bottom of the piece. I doubt today anyone would consider leaving "Bottom" written in white chalk on the non visible pieces of a piece of furniture they make.

Could be the lowly paid first year apprentice was the Omnijig in the shop when he was not cutting wood for the stove.
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On 12 Mar 2007 09:55:54 -0700, " snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com"

Err.. I would :) I don't mark the bottom because it's pretty easy to know where the plywood parts go. But on drawers I label the parts with the drawer number and F,B,R,L to keep everything straight. The F gets covered by the false front, I'll sand down the sides so the R and L go away. But take one of my drawers out and you'll see something like "3B" on the back of it. Who cares? And besides, if you take them all out you've got the numbers there to help you get them back in the right order. Hopefully you aren't seeing shoddy joinery.
-Leuf
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The "Bottom" was written in very large letters in white chalk. It covered about half the bottom of the drawer slip. It was very, very large. As in the drawer slip was about 18"x36". And the writing was about 8" high by about 16" long. Really big. And it was just left on the piece and I presume finish applied over it. I'm guessing your "3B" is less than an inch and in pencil and fairly subdued.
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I read about someone who had entered a reproduction of an historic piece (a chest) in a contest and was pissed because he got low marks for workmanship. He had painstakingly duplicated the poor workmanship of the original, corners weren't square, joinery was inconsistent and so on.
So the answer to your question would depend on what quality of antique the fellow was trying to copy.
--
FF


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On 13 Mar 2007 10:28:26 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net wrote:

I make medieval to pre Civil War (mid 17th century) English work in oak. I also study and measure a lot of original pieces.
You really have to distinguish _why_ something appears crude. You're probably looking at (if it survived at all) a very high end piece, made by skilled craftsmen who'd spent a long apprenticeship learning a small number of highly-developed skills. They were also working in a world without power tools, where every cut and flat surface meant real effort, with limited tools, and with almost no measuring instruments.
So their individual skill is even higher than today. After all, they didn't do much _except_ these pieces, they didn't waste time studying paint, glue or routers 8-) They were also "lazy". You might surface both sides if there's a machine doing it, but not when it's your own sweat. Most obviously though, they didn't measure stuff. Asymmetry is a way of life, especially in the earlier pieces. Making the width of two sides of a cabinet equal widths just wasn't on their radar. If a piece involves turnery (and many do), then this was particularly free-formed.
They weren't careless or sloppy though. Within the limits of how that type of saw can cut that type of joint, they'd use it well and repeatedly. They certainly didn't break pins or cut gaps, because that's the sign of the _unskilled_ worker, not the rushed or poorly-equipped worker.
When you get to the 18th century, the work is incomparably better than today's. You just can't get craftsman of that quality, and employ them for that much effort, for something that sells as cheaply as high-end furniture does.
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