Friday, January 7, 2011

Chest of Drawers with very old Joinery

Today, a very pretty, but dilapidated chest of drawers came in to our shop.   The wood has a nice grain structure which you just don't see in the modern fast growing woods used in current furniture.  But besides the beautiful quality of the wood, there is another thing about this chest which sets it apart as unique, as well as quite old.

The way the joinery was done tells us that this chest of drawers was made between  1870 and 1880.   These joints,  known as  Knapp Dovetail  or a Pinned Joint, were only used during that ten years. We get excited when we see this kind of joint because it is so rare.  Usually dovetails appear as triangular interlocking wedges, not as pegs and holes.

One more interesting  tidbit about pinned joints, we have never had to repair a drawer using that used this type of joinery.  Every piece that has come in has had tight fitting joints with no evidence of prior repair attempts.  It is clearly superior to standard dovetails in it's staying power.  It was not widely adopted because of the long term familiarity people had with dovetails and the belief that dovetails represented true quality workmanship.

The chest of  drawers is possibly made out of a southern yellow pine, but until it is stripped of it's finish, we will not know for sure.  This chest is going to undergo quite a transformation. We will have to do quite a bit of work to give the chest a new life.  I will be sure to let you know how the progress is going.  Now it it time for you to go check all your furniture and see if you detect any interesting old joints!

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