Home » antique furniture » Dating with Drawer Joints

Dating with Drawer Joints

grey dresser#4

My post about this dresser could be about many things but I will focus on the drawer joints.  First, the age of the piece:  it’s maple, looks hand-made and it has pin and cove joints.  Pin and cove joints or Knapp joints were used during a very short window of time, between 1870 and 1900.  They were an upgrade in terms of ease from the hand-cut joints that were used earlier because they were created with a machine that had been invented by Charles Knapp.  Apparently, inventors had been unsuccessfully trying to perfect a machine-made dovetail but Knapp solved the problem by creating a new type of dovetail altogether.  The joints are seen exclusively on the furniture from 1870-1900 ( Victorian and Eastlake styles) but fell out of fashion with the Colonial Revival trend and the fact that newer machines were finally able to imitate the traditional dovetail.  So, these joints( also known as half-moon), used almost solely in North America, are a reliable way to date a piece.  Here’s what they look like:

grey dresser #1

I painted the dresser with General Finishes “Driftwood” milk paint then applied a white wash with chalk paint.  It’s my first time using this paint and although it isn’t a true milk paint because it has acrylic in it, it does create a nice opaque finish and is easy to work with.  I did like how the paint revealed the grain of the wood, something I didn’t expect.

grey dresser #2

This dresser did present me with one problem, in that it had a very musty odour when I bought it.  I cleaned it out and painted the entire inside with clear shellac.  Shellac will seal an odour in and is a very effective tool.  However, the shellac  odour lingered for days inside the drawers.  It is a sweet, alcohol smell and it shouldn’t have been present since the alcohol in the shellac usually dissipates quickly when exposed to the air.  I could find no explanation for this when I did some research.  There’s always something with an old piece of furniture.

grey dresser#3







2 thoughts on “Dating with Drawer Joints

  1. The finished piece looks great. I also learned something about dating furniture and inspired me to learn some more about the pieces we buy and try to date them. Thanks.

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