I will occasionally include a dovetail picture in the sets I post. One reason I include these picture to demystify dovetails. I also use them to illustrate the craft of the furniture maker and show the secondary woods used. The most common dovetail I see is the half blind dovetail as seen in drawers. There are a lot of different ways to make a dovetail. The people making this furniture did what they did without the benefit of all the books and articles written in recent times. And to the best of my knowledge, most of them did so without the benefit of bloggers. Imagine.

Much of what I have seen in the past few months has been dovetails with thin pins, you know, the ones that will never last and will shatter on impact. Or so conventional wisdom tells us. Most of what I photograph is Southern furniture, much of it built in the English tradition. The English seemed to prefer the thin pin. Exceptions are the clunky French country dovetails and the wedged German dovetails.

There seems to be a bias against the thin pin. In a quick literature search, I couldn’t find anyone writing about thin pins. In a blog post, one magazine editor used a picture of mine to illustrate the evils of the thin pin. He found a thin pinned drawer that had failed and been badly repaired. He used this to claim thin pins are prone to failure and we all need to make big, manly dovetails. The dovetails of which he blogged suffered a glue failure, the pins were fine. If he had done a thorough search, he would have seen more repaired thick pins. Those big, gappy dovetails fail often and badly. (For what it’s worth, I understand he no longer is employed by that magazine.)

Bad dovetail.

Bad dovetail.

Really bad dovetail.

Really bad dovetail.

What we need is a hero, someone who will defy convention and teach the one true pin. The aesthetically pleasing thin pin. There must be some Tom, Chuck or Harry that cares about bringing forward the traditional craft. A brave soul that will face the scorn and derision of his (or her) peers and do the right thing.

Hero, are you there?

Thin pins. Click to see a variety of thin pins.

Thin pins. Click to see a variety of thin pins.