The feel of the 18th century- Hardware from Londonderry brasses
For me, part of the fun of building furniture by hand is working with the tools, materials, and hardware. This hardware, from Londonderry brasses, really has the feel of the 18th c.
The little knobs for my standing desk’s inner drawers are solid brass and have a hand made quality to them. Their screws were not perfectly in line with the knobs. So I had to straighten them slightly. I imagine this was the same sort of work done in the period, which may explain the screw plates and hand vices that turn up in Gentlemen’s chests and other tool lists.
The finishes are nothing short of spectacular. These aren’t just dipped in some aging solution- at least, I’ve never got any of my brass to look like this in my darkening solution.
I really prefer Londonderry’s brasses not just because they have beautiful hardware and offer great service. I prefer them because of the way I feel using them. Its very akin to the difference between an old wooden smoothing plane and a bright shiny new metal plane, with its crisp machined corners and lacquered tote.
In my December article, I talked about fussing with this hardware. That really wasn’t exactly what I meant. I had to open up the key hole of an escutcheon with a file, I straightened the screws, deepened a countersink or two. It wasn’t difficult or time consuming work. It was fun for me and really enhanced the pleasure of building furniture by hand.
Just in case I haven’t made this clear: I find the tools and materials I use and the environment in which I work inspirational. I feel my experience influences the work I do. Not everyone can work in a shop like mine or with the tools I use. It just doesn’t make sense for everyone. But if you have the opportunity to work with period tools or hardware like Londonderry’s, take it.