attaching the top

attaching the top2016-02-06T21:47:38+00:00
  • Creator
  • #2028537

    James Wright
    Post count: 108

    <span style=”color: #141823; font-family: helvetica, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19.32px;”>Ok I have been searching for over a year and I thought I would put it out here. what is the traditional (pre 1850s) method for attaching a top to a cabinet/table/dresser or other leg and stretcher design. all I see is people keep using brackets or screws how is it best done without hardware?</span>

  • Author
  • Mike in TN
    Post count: 284

    Hi again James,

    Craftsmen have used all manner attachment joinery through the years in various applications and as various furniture styles have come into popular use. Dovetails and sliding dovetails were the popular choices for cabinet construction.  The use of “hardware” is actually quite old (pre 1500 at least and about 1700 for handmade screws) and nails are often found in very old pieces often because of the poor quality of glues that were available to the average craftsmen of the period. Reliance on glues and simple joinery alone for structural joints actually came later after quality glues became widely available. Leg and stretcher table design seems to have become common at the same time that hardware was widely available. There may be some examples of “country” (or extremely odd pieces) that didn’t use either “buttons”, pocket holes and screws, or metal brackets, but that would be an exception to the norm and would probably use nails or pegs (not the best option in my opinion). Hardware for this application is historically correct unless you are doing pre-1700 reproductions.

    Have fun.

  • BFgeronimo
    Post count: 38

    Thanks Mike for that. I hate using screws and nails but have always just thrown up my hands when I attack tops. I don’t feel so bad now!


  • Peterjames
    Post count: 1

    Yeah!! Craftsmen have used all manner attachment.

  • Mike in TN
    Post count: 284

    Another attachment method was the use of sliding dovetails between the top and the apron but you had to really be careful with the design in order to prevent cross grain and expansion/contraction issues.

    Have fun.

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