I found this dresser on craigslist a couple of weeks ago. The drawer joints were unlike anything I’ve seen before. After a bit of research online, I discovered that these corners, consisting of pins and crescent joints, were the first known machine-generated drawer joints in the industrial revolution age. They were called Knapp Joints after the inventor. This joint replaced the hand cut dovetail joints and was used from about 1870 – 1900. Used in furniture factories, the Knapp machine made it possible for a skilled cabinet maker to turn out 15 – 20 drawers per day. The drawer department finally caught up with the efficiency of other departments in the factory. But by 1900 a machine-made dovetail joint was perfected, completely replacing the Knapp Joint.
So if you find a dresser with these distinctive rounded joints, you can be sure the piece was constructed between 1870-1900 and probably by the Knapp Dovetailing Company in Northhampton, Mass.
Enough of the history lesson… on to the furniture. This piece had so many angles, cuts, details that a simple beautiful paint job was the only thing it needed. Here’s what I did:
2. Primed with Benjamin Moore All Purpose Primer (oil based)
3. Painted two coats of Behr “Perfect Storm”
4. Lightly distressed
5. Sealed with two coats of wipe-on poly with a satin finish
6. Inside of drawers and knobs were painted a creamy white
Lesson learned: Do you see the small white specs on the drawer below? Well, I ran out of the lint-free pads used for the application of stain and poly so I used an old sock! Hence the ugly specs. Take my advice… cutting corners usually doesn’t yield a good result.
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