Decorative Hardware Sources
Where to find the right hardware to complement your work
Synopsis: Chippendale hardware isn’t going to do much for an Arts and Crafts piece, writes Vincent Laurence of Fine Woodworking. But finding the right visible hardware can prove difficult. Here, Laurence lists suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers, and he explains how to have custom hardware made or designed for you. The article does not include suppliers for slides, hinges, etc. It does include a glossary of terms and different methods of manufacture used to produce hardware and what difference they make in the finished piece.
Vinyl siding wouldn’t look right on a 17th-century Colonial. And you ‘wouldn’t put mag wheels on a Model T. Similarly, Chippendale hardware is not going to do anything for an Arts-and-Crafts sideboard. Each furniture style has a signature look that extends to the smallest details, including the hardware.
The most difficult part of choosing the right hardware for a piece is often finding it in the first place. Readers of Fine Woodworking have called many times looking for everything from hardware for tansu (Asian storage cabinets) to hand-forged iron strap hinges. The hardware makers and suppliers listed on these pages should make it easier for you to find exactly the hardware you need.
If you still can’t find what you want from stock items in any of these suppliers’ catalogs, many of them also will do custom work for you, from casting or forging to refinishing existing hardware. And blacksmiths, jewelers and machinists in your area are often willing to quote a price for just about any piece of hardware you can design. Some will even help with design services.
I’ve listed only those manufacturers, distributors and retailers whose business is visible decorative hardware—hardware that’s at least as important for how it looks as for how it works.
The list is still long, but the decision to limit it to suppliers of visible decorative hardware means that I’ve left out all those businesses that deal primarily with drawer slides, European cup hinges, shelf-pin systems and the like. Some of the companies listed also carry these items (or other merchandise like lamps, fireplace tools or other household accessories), but that’s beyond the scope of this article.
I mention “architectural” hardware frequently in this list. By architectural hardware I mean full-sized door, window or shutter hardware or other pieces you wouldn’t consider for furniture.
On the facing page, I have included a glossary of hardware related terms that may not be familiar but are mentioned in the list. You’ll also find a visual guide to most of the hinge styles mentioned in the list.
Finally, there’s a discussion of the different methods of manufacture used to produce hardware and what difference it makes in the finished product.
From Fine Woodworking #112
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