Thursday, December 6, 2012

We must end EEG now!

Prompted by a recent discussion on a woodworking forum, I must comment here on my dovetail philosophy. It is as follows:

Exposed dovetails are evil and must be eradicated.

The best furniture ever made, in my humble opinion, during any time period, was made in 18th century Philadelphia and Newport.  The makers of these pieces, Affleck, Townsend, Goddard, all of them, took great pains to hide ugly dovetails behind moldings, veneer or with special mitered dovetails.  There simply is no reason to expose dovetails on casework.

Some will argue that dovetails show craftsmanship. Baloney.  Craftsmanship is shown in the overall execution of the piece, the molding work, the proportions, surface quality and, yes, joinery.  But the dovetail is a simple mechanical joint.  Honestly, it takes no great skill to execute adequately (sawing and chiseling to a line is fundamental, not extraordinary), and far, far, far too much attention is given to this one area of woodworking. And it isn't particularly beautiful. It is utilitarian.

The best way to improve your dovetails is to cover them with molding.  This is as true of the finest, Klausz-like dovetails as it is for the average "hacked out with a screwdriver" looking dovetails.

We can eradicate the scourge of exposed end grain (EEG) in our lifetimes...

EDIT: Before I the lynch mob kicks down my door and cuts my Internet, please read this.  This is tongue in cheek, a parody of many of the domineering opinions of so-called "experts" so prevalent in the woodworking media.  I am not trying to change anyone's method of work; I am trying to expand the discussion beyond how to cut dovetails. Dovetails shmovetails, they don't make fine furniture any better.