I’ve made the following statement at least a dozen times in strategy meetings, classrooms and beer halls: Someone should review furniture hardware.
After all, if the hardware stinks, I think the furniture piece as a whole is diminished.
I obsess about hardware, and I have a huge bin of it in my shop, mostly pieces that I bought to examine: knobs galore, hinges, escutcheons, pulls and catches. And whenever I go to flea markets, I’m always on the lookout for the scrap metal guy who sells old hardware from torn-down houses and ruined furniture. That stuff can be (not literally) gold.
For the last couple months I’ve been on a hunt for good hardware for campaign furniture. I’ve ordered a lot of pieces from suppliers to find what I want, and I’m still looking. What I’m trying to find probably doesn’t exist because it was made before I was born.
My grandfather built several campaign pieces for his Connecticut home, and I inherited a bag of assorted campaign brasses – five edge straps, two corner guards and two ring pulls. It is gorgeous stuff – all cast brass and heavy. That’s what I’m looking for as I build my campaign chest with a secretary insert.
One of the first places I looked was Horton Brasses. I love Horton and have been shopping there since 1996. Nobody is faster or nicer. And their hardware is excellent. (Disclaimer: I’ve never taken anything for free from Horton. I always buy my hardware from them.)
This week I received the box of samples I purchased from Horton, including a chest lift, edge straps and corner guards. It’s a mixed bag.
What I’m not wild about are the dimensions of the hardware. Both are intended to be used in material that is at least a full 1” thick. While that’s certainly do-able, not all campaign pieces were in 1”-thick stock. Try 7/8” or 13/16”. And a lot of woodworkers today will use 3/4”-thick stock.
The 6” chest lift, however, is a total winner. It’s heavy and looks ready to head to India on the back of an elephant. Plus Horton supplies slotted screws – no Phillips or Robertsons. So I think I’ve found the winning chest lift.
The search continues for straps and corner guards.
Later this week: More on hardware and details on campaign chest joinery.
— Christopher Schwarz
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