Dating furniture pressboard

18 Oct

This construction detail is your first key to the piece’s age and quality of craftsmanship.

Dovetail joints are strong and require skill to produce, so they’re generally a sign of a well-made piece.

Particle board furniture is always coated in veneer, which is somewhat durable but still prone to scratching.

It cannot be sanded smooth because the wood doesn't have a grain, so fixing it involves filling in the scratches and replicating the finish.

Hand-cut dovetails can date an older American piece to before 1890, although hobbyists and specialty makers still use them.

Apply a bit of wood filler to the scratches with your finger.

“If it’s been in the family a while, it’s worth finding out before you do some damage.” To muddy the waters a bit, there are some more recent pieces by prominent makers—for example, from the Art Deco and Arts and Crafts periods (shown in the photo below) — that command high prices and shouldn’t be touched.

If you suspect there’s something unusual or distinctively well-made about your piece, go with your gut, Masaschi says, and ask someone who knows.

A major disadvantage of particleboard is that it is very prone to expansion and discoloration due to moisture, particularly when it is not covered with paint or another sealer.

Therefore, it is rarely used outdoors or in places where there are high levels of moisture, with the exception of some bathrooms, kitchens and laundries, where it is commonly used as an underlayment - in its moisture resistant variant - beneath a continuous sheet of vinyl flooring.