Chris Schwarz's Blog

Hardware Review: Ansaldi & Sons Campaign Hardware

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

16 thoughts on “Hardware Review: Ansaldi & Sons Campaign Hardware

  1. Nancy Cogger Andersen

    Hi. I own Londonderry Brasses, Ltd. and I have a little bit of campaign hardware which I can special order for customers. I would love to add an entire line of campaign hardware, but what I need are period originals from which to make the molds. Anyone have any great pieces I could borrow? I like to use period hardware for the molds so that the handmade craftsmanship and the years of wear are present to provide that authentic look I like to offer my customers.
    My hardware is not made in the US, but is cast in England. I don’t know if that is any better than hardware being made in Hong Kong, since it is still overseas, but I can assure that the hardware I sell is top quality.

  2. larry7293

    Made in Hong Kong. This can’t be the same Chris Schwarz that boasts about having his books published in the U.S.???????? What happened to supporting “local” companies????????? Am I missing something here??

    1. Christopher SchwarzChristopher Schwarz Post author

      Larry,

      I was unaware where the hardware was made until it arrived and was stamped as such. I will say that some very good hardware is made in Hong Kong — sometimes it’s a case of domestic suppliers not trying to be competitive on quality — just price.

    2. Niels

      Chill, Sounds like Chris is just disclosing the facts and being objective (you know, like a journalist should). I doubt that this hardware selection quite qualifies as Anti-American behavior.

  3. robert

    “Made in Hong Kong” Really? Don’t we already have enough shit that is made somewhere else? How about source it from a domestic manufacturer.

    Or even better, hire a local blacksmith, machine shop or retired shop teacher to make these for you. The average woodworker is not going to need to buy these on production scale pricing. I will bet that the typical woodworker who (if they actually decide to) builds some campaign furniture will build 1 to 3 pieces. If you spend a little more to have the brasses made especially for you, then that will make the whole project a little bit more satisfying.

    1. griffithpark

      The last time I tried to hire a blacksmith for some sideboard hardware, he wanted $1600.

      He also wanted to make it from steel, and then color to look like brass.

    1. Nancy Cogger Andersen

      Hi Jonathan,
      I own Londonderry Brasses, Ltd and I would be happy to share my secret for getting a good color on brass hardware.
      I use 28% ammonium hydroxide. I purchase if from Hi-Valley Chemical in Utah. http://www.hvchemical.com It works great but is unpleasant to use.
      My method is to take a plastic bucket, mine is 9″ tall with 9 1/2″ diameter and get a piece of glass to cover the top, something strong enough to hold a full gallon of liquid.You also need a metal vegetable steamer, the kind that opens up like a big flower. And you need a good fan. Turn on the fan, hold your breath and pour just enough ammonia in the bucket to cover the bottom, about 1/2 cup, place the open vege steamer inside and arrange your hardware. Dont’ let the hardware overlap. Place the glass on top and put a full gallon of something to keep the glass sealed down tight. Keep an eye on it. Sometimes the hardware will darken up in a few minutes, but other times it can take hours. If you get any of the liquid ammonia on the brass, it will instantly create a shiny spot. When it seems to stop working very quickly, pour off the old and add fresh. Adding fresh to the old does not seem to liven up the old ammonia. If you go too long, it is completely reversible with brass polish. Just try not to inhale the fumes. I am told that the exposure does not cause any cumulative damage, it is just a terrible irritant. If you have any questions, please feel free to call me. 610-593-6239

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