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Martha Leone Design: The blog is where I share thoughts on the creative process and share lots of pictures of each finished piece of painted furniture. Critiques are always welcome!

Filtering by Tag: 19th century furniture

Knapp Dresser

Martha Leone

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:

1. Sanded 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.

Before shot:

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By the way, this is available at my etsy shop 

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