Dating antique furniture

Note the flat spot on the shaft, the irregular threads, blunt tip and the off center slot.The screw in the center is machine made around 1830.This was usually done in laborious fashion with a file.When the smith had the length he thought was needed for the job, he simply cut or snipped the threaded shaft.This entire hand-done process leaves a multitude of clues on the handmade screw, just waiting for our inspection.

The hand cut slot is seldom perfectly centered on the off-center head.The pitch, the angle of the thread to the shaft, will vary considerably from thread to thread as will the depth of the cut into the shaft that produces the thread.The edges are often flat since they were filed into shape, and the tip is invariably blunt since the smith just cut it off.The same was true for hinges used under a table leaf. Archimedes, the Greek scholar and mathematician of the third century B.C., used a shaft with a surrounding spiral in a tube to lift water, making use of one of the basic tools of physics – the ramp.

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