>I wouldn't worry too much about angles. I doubt there's any
>documentation to prove or disprove standardization of dovetail angles
>during the SCA time period.
Standardization isn't the issue. Chris correctly observed that dovetails
on surviving furniture from the 16th c. are cut at a much steeper angle
than those from the 18th c. This is a factual observation. The question
My tentative hypothesis: Steeper dovetails are more intuitive - the
mechanical properties are obvious. The only drawback to them is that they
are somewhat more difficult to make that way, because of the short grain at
the outer tips of the tails. Not impossible, just requires more
care. With dense, close-grained wood, this is less of a concern. I
suspect that the drawbacks were known, and the Renaissance artisan
compensated by selecting tight-grained wood and by exercising great care in
I don't think dovetails became popular because of any superiority in
construction - frame-and-panel chests were already proven to be stable and
solid, are easier to make, and can be made with lower-quality
lumber. Dovetail chests required wide, old-growth boards - which were
already becoming scarce and expensive in the MA. I think their popularity
was for two reasons: One, they look cool, and were undoubtedly considered
more "artisanal" than framed chests (just as they are today) - so the more
dramatic the dovetails looked, the more valuable they would be. Two, the
conspicuous use of wide (expensive) boards proclaimed the wealth of the owner.
So, as long as the artisan was careful and the wood was good enough, acute
dovetails were feasible. If that's what the market demanded, that's what
the studios produced.
Furniture and Accessories
For the Medievalist!