Sitting in a bar in Pittsboro, NC, I first heard about a mythical joint called the “dovetail”. I was at first unwilling to accept what I was being told but the narrator seemed so sincere. Earnest. It’s an incredible story but the world is full of incredible stories. Some things we need take on faith.
It seems woodworkers for centuries have been joining wood at right angles by removing portions of both boards interlocking and keying the two boards permanently together. The more skilled woodworkers could also use the “dovetail” to do simple and compound angle joints. They say these joints were used to build both carcasses and drawers. And other things we not speak of here.
Only the most virtuous and skilled woodworkers mastered the dovetail. Others were left to use rabbet and butt joints, acceptable joints but without the strength and prestige of the dovetail. In order to make furniture more cheaply, those less virtuous and skilled needed another method of joining wood. To this end, in the later 19th century, Charles Knapp invented and perfected machines that produced what came to be called, oddly enough, the Knapp Joint.
Rather than boring the disinterested and spend a lot of time retyping plagiarized content, I offer you two links:
And from the Wood Works Inc.
Knapp joints fell out of favor during the colonial revival era when changing aesthetics favored the dovetail (even machine cut) over the industrial looking Knapp joint. Things change.
What made me write this blog now? First, I am dry, tapped out, having nothing left to say. That and I saw this mirror in the men’s room at a restaurant on the property of the Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston – Salem, NC. (I never stop working for you.)
I looked at it and wondered if they had used a Knapp joint machine to make the decorative trim across the top. It is the right era for this Eastlake’esque mirror. And the machine is just sitting there…