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?
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 . . .
Sun, Mar 11, 2007, 3:57am (EDT+4) snipped-for-privacy@Yahoo.com (Toller) doth
<snip> Is that considered acceptable on hand cut dovetails, or on
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.
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.
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.
On 12 Mar 2007 09:55:54 -0700, " email@example.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.
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.
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.
On 13 Mar 2007 10:28:26 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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
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