In Shop Blog, Techniques

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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

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Showing 16 comments
  • russkay42

    I’ve gotten some very nice chest lifts (I use them as handles for my hammered dulcimers!) from Lee Valley (,41427,41375). Expensive, but very nicely finished and heavy duty.

  • 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.

  • bkcollins


    Give a try to Chester County, Pennsylvania’s Ball & Ball, a family run hardware outfit. See at the bottom of the list.

  • Mark Hochstein

    Having visited both Horton and Ball & Ball, I can tell you that the majority of the hardware from Ball & Ball exceeds the quality of the stuff from Horton by a significant margin.

  • 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??

  • 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.

  • bengtn

    Regarding coloring hardware, are you referring to “Aging Hardware – Arkansas-style”, as described on the lost art press blog or is there an indoor method?


  • Jonathan Szczepanski

    Chris –

    I hope you are going to talk about coloring the hardware. I have been unsuccessful in my attempts.


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