I found an oak washstand that probably dates to around 1900. My fellow woodworkers and I had never seen joints like the ones on the drawers. Is this joint (shown above) common to a particular region, or was it used by a specific manufacturer? Also, can I buy a jig to make this joint?
—Kevin Austin, Kokomo, Ind.
What you describe is a pin-and-crescent joint, also known as a pin-and-scallop, pin-and-cove, or scallop-and-dowel joint. This joint was a Victorian-era innovation to replace time-consuming hand-cut dovetail joints with a fast, machine-made alternative. In 1871, the Knapp Dovetailing Co. of Northampton, Massachusetts, began producing machines to make pin-and-crescent joints, soon nicknamed "Knapp joints."
For nearly 30 years, these joints enjoyed widespread use among furniture companies that could suddenly make 10 times more drawers than with hand-cut dovetails. As the Victorian era ended, so did the pin-and-crescent joint's popularity. Furniture style preferences shifted away from obviously machine-made details such as pin-and-crescent joints. Then came joinery machines capable of mass-producing dovetail joints that still looked hand-cut.