Dating furniture legs
The same problem arose while trying to affix a lock to the back side of a drawer.For a nail to hold, it would have had to be driven through the front of the drawer.In the late 1890s, scalloped dovetails were the rage, but the trend shifted back to the classic triangular shape after a few years.Hand-cut dovetailing was the default until 1860 when uniform machine-cut joints were introduced.The joints were less delicate at first -- fairly wide and blunt, cut crudely with rare exceptions.
The use of the joinery technique stretches back into prehistory, but its utility is still relevant.
It has sharp, even threads, a cylindrical shape, blunt end and the slot is still off center.
The screw on the right is a modern gimlet screw, post 1848, with tapered shaft, even threads, pointed tip and centered slot. The handmade nails of the period derived much of their holding power from the ability to drive the nail through two surfaces and bend it over on the back side, i.e. But that solution would not work for securing the top on a chest of drawers or table top without either driving a nail through the top from above or clinching it on the top to hold it fast.
But fine cabinetmakers persisted in fitting their joints by hand until the early 1900s, and cabinetmakers in Europe cut dovetails by hand well into the 1930s.
American woodworkers played around with the ancient dovetailing concept and invented a version of their own in 1870.