There is precious little information out there about placing your hardware so it doesn’t look awkward. My theory: Woodworking writers get so worn out by the time that they reach the end of a story that all they do is write: Apply three coats of your favorite finish, attach the hardware and enjoy!
Oh, if only life were that simple. It’s no wonder I see so many projects with terrible finishes and hardware that looks like it was stuck on by drunk chipmunk.
Yes, there are guidelines to placing hardware. We’ve written about some of them in Woodworking Magazine, particularly about placing hinges.
But what about knobs and the common bail pulls? This week I’m adding some bail pulls to a chest that has graduated drawers and I wanted to figure out if there was some sort of system I could rely on to create the right look without just winging it.
So I looked at a bunch of pieces this morning that I liked. Most of it was Southern furniture, but that should come as no surprise to those who know my upbringing. I found three systems:
1. For tiny drawers where the pull is nearly as tall as the drawer is wide, the entire pull was centered on the drawer front. That is, the distance from the top of the pull to the top of the drawer was the same as from the bottom of the pull to the bottom of the drawer.
2. For small drawers, such as 6″ wide or so, it was a little different. The mounting posts of the pulls were centered vertically on the drawer front. So if the drawer were 6″ wide, the mounting posts would be exactly 3″ down from the top edge of the drawer.
3. For big drawers near the bottom of a carcase, there was a third system. The mounting posts of the pulls were slightly higher than centered. How high? After looking at a lot of photos, I found that one common ratio was to divide the drawer front into nine divisions and put the mounting posts four divisions down from the top , a 4:5 ratio.
I am sure there are other schemes for placing hardware — I’m not saying this is gospel. But it results in natural-looking hardware placement. The slightly higher pulls at the bottom of the case don’t really look all that high when you are standing in front of the chest. They look basically centered, maybe just a little high. This gives some visual weight to the bottom of the case (a good thing).
The system works, and I was really pleased with the way the hardware was spaced on the drawers. Now if I could just get the sheen consistent on all the surfaces, I’ll be ready to drink that St. Bernardus beer I’ve been saving.
– Christopher Schwarz
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