Whether you are in search of a period piece or contemporary styling, you can find a secretary desk to suit your tastes.
These were cut with a jig or pattern, and an apprentice could create a very well fitting and attractive joint. European cabinetmakers continued their hand-cut dovetails well into the 1900's.
Picture Bob Cratchit, in "A Christmas Carol," doing his clerical duties on Christmas Eve. In the 18th and 19th centuries, these desks were found in offices, but through the years they have become popular in homes.
If you are in search of writing space or extra storage for your home, you may find that a secretary desk provides what you need.
Hand made screws and nails were relatively expensive and could rust and expand, sometimes cracking the wood they secured. Dovetails have great strength, holding pieces of wood in perfect alignment over long periods of time.
This lavishly hand-carved cabinet from about 1890 shows structural dovetail joints on the back side.
The slow and laborious crafting and carving, one piece at a time, by a master woodworker was not suited to the new mass market.