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I just bought an old, thick butcher block (~16”) that has loosened up over the years and I can’t determine how old it is. It does have ~5/8” through rods that have washers and hex nuts on them.

I feel like since it has hex nuts it probably isn’t much older than the 50s or so, but that’s just a gut feeling.

When did hex head nuts become common in furniture? Is this evidence of the age or is it just too hard to tell from that one data point? Aside from an obvious mark, what other clues might I look for?

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    I think you're likely dead-on in your guess about how old it might be, but you'll never know as it's possible they were replaced at some point in the block's history (the original ones, if there were original ones, having rusted enough that someone felt they needed to be removed). Edit: as to a clue to the age of the current rods, washers and nuts, are all of them zinc plated, bare steel or black finished? – Graphus Mar 28 '19 at 5:34
  • @Graphus From the one plug I removed, the rod and nuts are pretty rusty, but I believe they were zinc plated based on the pattern of the rust. I can post a picture later tonight, but thanks for the comment. – JPhi1618 Mar 28 '19 at 14:21
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    I found a lot of patents for hex-head wrenches data around 1850, so it's safe to say that hex bolts have been around for 150+ years. – Stephen Meschke Mar 28 '19 at 16:25
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    @StephenMeschke, right the "hex head" existed for a long time, but in my refinishing experience, most furniture used square head nuts/bolts for a long time. Well into the 1940's-50's. Square head nuts usually point to a vintage piece. You find something like a square nail and you know its even older. What I'm not sure of is if hex heads were used sooner on larger, higher torque bolts like a butcher block. – JPhi1618 Mar 28 '19 at 16:28
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    @Graphus, Thanks again for the comments. I don't want to be a poster that doesn't give any updates. I will look at that and the metal and post info/pictures when I can. – JPhi1618 Mar 29 '19 at 17:54

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