Dating furniture by nails
With furniture, as with anything else, one person's junk is another another's treasure.
ne of the most overlooked and least understood clues in establishing the date and authenticity of older and antique furniture is the story that screws can tell about the history of a piece.This shape of nail had the benefit of four sharp edges on the shank which cut deep into timber and the tapered shank provided friction down its full length.The wood fibres would often swell if damp and bind round the nail making an extremely strong fixing.The screw in the center is machine made around 1830.It has sharp, even threads, a cylindrical shape, blunt end and the slot is still off center.You may also discover a real antique or two -- pieces handed down through the family for generations.
Other good sources are secondhand stores, household auctions, and garage sales.
This helps if you have visual clues underneath or in the construction technique.
Often what you don't see tells the most compelling story.
If it has only a few dovetail joints, with pins narrower than the dovetails, then the joint was made by hand.
When you want to refinish old wooden furniture, the best place to look is the family storeroom: Check the attic, basement, garage, or wherever unwanted furniture has collected.
The 'Oliver' - a kind of work-bench, equipped with a pair of treadle operated hammers - provided a mechanism for beating the metal into various shapes but the nails were still made one at a time.