While Horton Brasses has agreed to produce some custom pieces of campaign hardware for the chest/secretary I’m building for Popular Woodworking Magazine, that doesn’t squelch my desire to see what other makers have on offer.
So I ordered a load of campaign brasses from Ansaldi & Sons of Hudson, N.H. The company has a wide range of different forms of campaign hardware, which is a big plus. Some hardware companies carry just a few pieces of the stuff. That doesn’t help the builder – especially when you are trying to match color and finish.
The Ansaldi & Sons stuff has good and bad points. Let’s look at each major component in turn. Note that some of the hardware is located here and some is located here. Like I said, the company has a large line of campaign hardware compared to many suppliers.
Surface Pulls (shown above)
Ansaldi & Sons carries several forms of pulls – I ordered the classic shape, which is a brass-plated zinc casting. Sadly, these are too lightweight for my taste. They have a hollow feel to them and the pulls drop in place with a lightweight “tink” instead of the “donk!” you hope for.
They look OK, but as soon as you grab them, they feel too light to be the real deal. However, at less than $8, some people will bite.
Plain Corner Trim (2-1/2” x 2-1/2” x 2-1/2”)
These are winners. Made in Hong Kong, these corner guards have a handmade irregularity an a brushed brass finish. The one open seam of the corner guard is brazed or soldered, and that seam is left a little rough. I love it. These are secured with escutcheon pins – included – that look real deal. I’ll be using these. And they are compatible with 3/4”-thick material.
Plain Side Trim (2-1/2” x 4” x 3/4”)
These are from the same family as the trim above. They are made for 3/4” material and use the same escutcheon pins. Plus they have the same finish. And this is a somewhat unusual and useful shape for campaign chests. These are also excellent.
Corner Ornament (5293)
These have the nice ogee shape that appears on some chests, and they have nice weight and a handmade feel. They are too small for a full-size campaign chest/secretary in my opinion. They are 2” x 2” x 3/4”. I’d use these in a minute on a smaller chest. These are also secured with escutcheon pins.
Corner Ornament (A9622, 3” x 3” x 1”)
These are too big when working with 3/4” material but they are the right length for a full-size chest – 3”. They are secured with escutcheon pins. If you have full 1” material these will work, but they are not compatible with the 3/4”-based hardware above.
Corner Ornament (E307, 2” x 2” x 3/4”)
This is the most disappointing piece of hardware from Ansaldi. It’s the right size for a small chest, but the seam that holds the whole thing square and tight is left unbrazed. You can bend it easily and – worse – it looks a little cheap.
6” Chest Lift
I also picked up a 6” chest lift from Ansaldi to see how it compared to the one I purchased from Horton. I prefer the Horton version. Horton’s has a heavier feel and uses more screws to secure the rosettes to the work.
So again, it’s a mixed bag of hardware. Some of the stuff from Ansaldi is great. Some of it’s not so. You have to be picky and learn to color your own hardware.
— Christopher Schwarz