If you read Chris Schwarz’s blog at Popular Woodworking, there was recently an interesting post about wedged dovetails. Historically it’s been said that wedging was done primarily to close up gappy or sloppy dovetails. In the coments of that post a gentleman made a case for wedged dovtails as a normal way of construction used by Germanic woodworkers in the past. I would like to agree with this contention for the most part. I would like to re post the comment here but I don’t know if that is allowable so here is the link again. It’s well worth the read, for those that are not familiar with wedged dovetails here are some pictures and comments.
This is a drawer out of a vernacular table that either originated in Wisconsin between 1850 and 1880 or was brought here during that period. The table is solid cherry, the drawer is a box with a 1/4 inch cherry panel glued to the front. The box appears to be poplar with a pine bottom.
Here we see a wedge in the top of each pin. All 12 pins are wedged, note that the wedges are not in the center of the pins, but they are in the interior of the pin not next to them. It would seem that if they were just to fill a gap there wouldn’t be one in every pin, just where there was a gap.
The wedges from the side of the drawer. There doesn’t seem to be a saw kerf that the wedges were driven into. I think that each pin was quickly split with a chisel by eye after the box was assembled, and the wedge driven into the split and then trimmed.