well, if you can stand it, here’s more about the pins that secure drawbored mortise-and-tenon joinery in 17th-century oak furniture. Pin shape, splits in the stock, deformation in the holes as a result of using the period bits, what Jennie Alexander & I call “piercer” bits, based on the most common term for bits in joiners’ inventories at that time. Not that the phrase is all that common, just that it’s used more than others. Here, see the pins have split the stile in a joined chest, this happens mostly on the tangential face of the oak. The splits start at the point in the hole where the bit tears up the end grain as it comes around…

small splits between two pins

Some joiners make very carefully-shaped pins, others use faceted ovals, even square shapes. As Alexander has pointed out, the facet/point usually hugs into the “spruck” where the bit comes around from long grain to end grain; you can see it here on this joined chest from Dedham, MA.

pins, etc, joined chest Dedham MA 1650-1680

Another Dedham chest shows pins that are effectively square. The split here is from a pin too large for its hole, and the use of the mitered shoulder, which has less bearing surface than a 90-degree shoulder.  

square pins

Here’s a slide shot by JA years ago, showing three types of bits, and their respective holes bored in oak.

gimlet & piercers
Next one’s pretty grubby, but shows the pin filling the weird shape of the hole. (See the top right hand part, just past 12 0’clock on this pin)
Savell cupboard
The next one has two kinds of pins; round-ish ones to secure the M&T joints, and square ones to attach the joined front of this chest to the board sides. Note the top round pin snapped when it was being trimmed, probably with a chisel.

Savell chest, joined front fixed to board sides

My take on pins is this. They are usually round, mostly, sometimes almost square, and often octagonal-to-round. there’s a lot of them in a joined chest. It does not pay to get too carried away making them carefully shaped. One detail that Alexander is always after me about, and rightfully so, is that the pin fills the holes. Mine tend to be tapered too quickly and therefore fill the hole sooner on the face of the joint, and not so much on the inside. Here is a joined stool from Essex County MA showing the pins on the inside. I’m working on mine.

17th-century joined stool; pins

For more about this subject in general, see http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/?s=drawboring and if you missed the beginning of this leg of this subject, here is the previous post on it http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/piercer-table-bit-etc/

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