The Knapp joint was created by Charles Knapp to create a beautiful and industrially manufactured joint to increase production over the dovetail joint.
There are so many varieties of wood joints you can use. Each style has a specific purpose and function that separates it from the others.
What is a Knapp joint? Knapp joints were a very strong form of drawer joinery and they were very easy to make with special machinery compared to the other forms of joints during 1870-1900.
Keep reading below to get a more in-depth look at Knapp Joints and what they were used for.
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What Is A Knapp joint?
The Knapp joint is also known as Pin and cove, pin and scallop, and Half-moon. It is a visually unique and aesthetically distinct style of antique joinery that was only popular for a short period but was soon abolished due to the creation of the dovetail machine, which is still heavily produced and used today.
The Knapp joints were a very strong form of drawer joinery and they were very easy to make back then compared to the other forms of joints.
In the olden days, highly skilled woodworkers were able to use the “dovetail” to create simple and compound angle joints. These joints, according to certain reports, were used to build both drawers and carcasses. Only the highest skilled woodworkers were able to master the art of creating the dovetail.
Other woodworkers who were unfortunately not as skilled, were only able to use rabbet and butt joints. These joints were very functional and beautiful in their own way, but they lacked the strength and prestige that the dovetail brought to furniture. These less skilled woodworks then had to find another method of joining wood that brought the same or even more level of strength and prestige. Step in Charles Knapp, the man who perfected the machines that produced what was named after him, the Knapp Joint.
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How To Make A Knapp Joint.
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Picture in your mind the city of Waterloo in the great state of Wisconsin in the late Victorian Era, in the post Civil War United States of America.
Dovetails were at the forefront of the joinery industry, but they were quite difficult to make on a large scale as they had to be hand-made one by one. A man named Charles Knapp then patented the idea for a machine called a router that made circular cuts in wood far quicker than the joints made by hand.
This new creation provided a breakthrough in the industry as production rates of woodwork products multiplied by a factor of about ten. The machine allowed these joints to be made on a factory level and this ensured quality projects were released and at a faster rate than those that relied on hand tools.
A big reason for the huge success of the Knapp joint was the fact that machines that were needed for creating the dovetail joints were not created. However, when these machines were eventually created, the routers as well as the Knapp joints were abandoned and people moved over to using the new dovetail machines.
The technique for creating Knapp joints was only really available for about thirty years, between 1870 and 1900.
The router or the Knapp machine was quite a complex machine that comprised five cutting parts. The machine had an auger, a hollow auger, two V-shaped cutters, and a circular cutter. The auger was used to bore the holes into the side of the drawer while the hollow auger cut out the pegs from the drawer front and then the rest of the cutters did the shaping of the circles around the pegs and the holes.
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Knapp Joint History.
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What Is A Knapp Machine?
The Knapp joint was very quickly and easily made by the machinery, and it also had an interlocking feature that was lacking from other joints like the finger joint. It was a very impressive drawer joint.
The design was improved by Mr. Charles B. Knapp after his design was initially patented in 1867. The machine was then tested at the Matthews Brothers furniture factory in Milwaukee in 1870, and it performed well.
Mr. Knapps then sold the rights to the machine to an investment group based in Massachusetts, and this group formed the Knapp Dovetailing Machine Company. The company then hired Mr. Knapps to serve as a consultant as well as Nathan C. Clement, who was a machinist so they could improve the machine even further and push it into large-scale regular production. The machine began work in the Beal and Hooper Factory in East Cambridge in 1871.
The price of the Knapp machine began to get affordable so its use spread throughout the East and it made some gains in the Midwest, where it was used by Nelson Matter in Grand Rapids and Mitchell and Rammelsberg in Cincinnati.
The Knapp machine and Knapp joints became a huge success as they could produce about 250 drawers a day, which compared to the 20 produced by handwork was a huge feat.
The downfall of the Knapp, however, did not come as a result of the machines or joints being ineffective or causing problems for the users. They were simply excavated from the community because the people decided to fill their houses and surroundings with furniture that reminded them of the “olden days.”
Back at the end of the 19th century, people held things such as morality and strength of character very high, and it was believed that no one had more of these qualities than the founding fathers of the United States of America. Because of this reason, people filled their homes with items from that time and as a result, the Knapp joints were thrown out because they looked too “modern” for the times.
So the Knapp joint fell, not because of technology, but because of the culture of the people around it. The Knapp was a very modern piece of work and hence it was too high tech for the times.
There was nothing from the Colonial era that looked like it and it looked nothing like the dovetail joints that were predominantly used during that period. So as the colonial revival began at the turn of the new century, the “high tech” innovations that came with the 19th century were swept aside and the way was cleared for products that looked more “18th century-Esque”.
The last set of Knapp joints were cut around 1905 and they have not been used in any form of production since that time.
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