Furniture details: Did You Know?


Dovetailing is a joiner’s device whereby two pieces of wood can be slotted together without recourse to nails or pegs. It is a technique of the cabinetmaker most frequently employed as a means of interlocking angles on carcasses and drawers.

The earliest method was the common or through dovetail. It was strong but had the disadvantage of showing the end grain on both sides of the angle. Consequently it was not satisfactory for holding a veneer.

Shortly before 1700 this method was replaced by the lap or stop dovetail which had the end grain on one side only, leaving the front clear for veneering.
In the 18th century, dovetailing became something of a fine art and the units were made so accurately that glue was unnecessary.


“Cabochon” comes from the French word “caboche” a hobnail. It is also a round or oval convex polished stone.

In furniture, it is a carved ornament found from the middle of the 18th century to the present and was so named because of its resemblance to the polished rounded shape of an uncut gem.

Its concave or convex shape is used as a carved enrichment on furniture. It is usually oval and surrounded by scrolled leaf ornament carvings. It is found particularly on the jutting knees of cabriole table and chair legs.

It was particularly popular on 18th century tables and chairs, but is also found on Rococo furniture and decorations.