The joints were less delicate at first -- fairly wide and blunt, cut crudely with rare exceptions.
But the style developed into a very thin, precise and fragile-looking joint.
Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications.
An analysis of glue remnants could be the key to precisely defining the age of a hand-cut dovetailed antique.
Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997.
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.
Eastlake and Victorian-style wood furniture, especially case furniture, displays a round dovetail known as a "pin and cove." It could be cut from a pattern, so an apprentice could do a decent job producing them -- a nice economy for a busy cabinetry shop.
The style never caught on outside North American and was gradually abandoned in favor of the classic dovetail.
Nails in antique furniture are often barely noticeable, but they are another key to unlock the history of wooden pieces.
The quest for the ideal nail has taken centuries of development.
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.