Functional Hardware

A good piece of furniture should be pleasing in appearance and solidly built. An often overlooked accessory is the type of hardware used. Hardware consists of a variety of metal fittings on furniture, and includes functional and practical decorations such as hinges, drawer and door handles, locks and catches, and escutcheons, mounts and corner protectors. Functional hardware should be made of solid brass which is strong and durable, and holds up well under stress. Cheap hardware can ruin a piece of furniture by causing doors to sag or fall off, the leaves of tables to become unstable, or drawer pulls and knobs to loosen. The type of hardware used should be appropriate for the purpose as well as being durable enough for everyday use. Listed below are some of the most common types of hardware used on furniture.

Hinges are two metal plates joined by a pin. One plate is attached to a solid surface so the other one can pivot. They are used to fasten an movable piece of wood to the structure of a piece. Hinges come in various shapes and include:

Butt Hinge
Butt hinges are the most common and effective hinges. They are made of two rectangular solid brass plates joined by a center pin. Sizes range from large to small depending on the size of the door.

Lift-Off Hinge
In this type of hinge one plate is attached to a pin and the other has a grooved cylinder for the pin to slide into.

Flush Hinge
This type of hinge is similar to a butt hinge, but is only used for small or lightweight doors. It is flush to the wood, hence the name, and is rarely seen.

Piano Hinge
These hinges are very long, rectangular plates with several screw holes. They provide an extremely stong fitting and are used for larger doors, such as that on a piano.

Flush Fitting Flap Hinge
This type of hinge is used on drop leaves and fall fronts, allowing the leaf to lie flat when open. The plates are circular and attached to a flattened pin.

Cylinder or Cranked Hinge
This type of hinge consists of two cylinders mounted on a swivel type pin, or a plate joined to an inset on another, allowing a door to be opened 180 degrees.

Knife Hinge
This type of hinge, used on drop leaves and doors, is nearly invisible when the door or flap is closed.

Table Hinge
This type of hinge is similar to a backflap hinge but has one plate larger than the other, and is used on folding table tops.

Dovetail Hinge
This hinge has two plates shaped like a dove's tail, and is used for drop leaves. Because of the shape of the hinge, the weight of the leaf is dispersed by wide plates.

Cock's Head Hinge
This type of hinge has two curved metal plates that are designed to look like a rooster's head. They are joined to the pin at the center of the rooster plume.

This type of hinge is made of two oblong or rectangular metal plates that are joined in the center by a pin that is shorter than either of the plates. This makes the hinge look like the letter "H."

H-L Hinge
This hinge is a combination of an H-hinge and and L-hinge. One of the metal plates is rectangular, while the other is a right angle. The two plates are joined by a short pin running perpendicular to the two plates, which gives the illusion of the letters "H" and "L."

Horseshoe and Strap Hinge
This hinge is made of an oblong plate that looks somewhat like a strap, and a semicircular plate that looks like a horseshoe. The center pin is extremely small, and joins the narrow end of the strap, and the outside center of the semi circular shaped plate.

This hinge, as the name implies, is shaped like the letter "L," and is made of one metal plate which joins the pin at the right angle.

Rat Tail Hinge
This type of hinge has a flat rectangular plate which is joined to a central pin by a narrow, curving tail-shaped plate that runs perpendicular to the pin.

Strap Hinge
This type of hinge resembles a leather strap. The two metal plates join the center pin perpendicularly, giving the illusion of a single strap.

Locks and Catches
Locks and catches are used on casework such as cabinets. They should be made of brass are generally inset so that they are flush with the surface. Most locks have two keyholes at right angles to each other which allows for vertical or horzontal placement. Fall flap cylinder locks are make of solid brass and are used for drop leaves on cabinets and desks. The lock is usually spring loaded and can only be turned if the leaf is closed. Catches are more common than locks, since most people don't want to have to look for a key every time they open a cabinet door. They are generally magnetic type and consist of a magnet inside the body of the cabinet which meets a metal striker plate attached to the cabinet door. The two magnets attract each other when the door is closed and keep the door from swinging open. Other magnetic catches include ball catches and touch latches which allow the door to be opened when pushed.

Drop Handles and Ring Pulls
Handles come in a variety of shapes and are made of brass. The most common is a drop handle which is a semi-circle, suspended from two pivots which are mounted on two separate plates. Also common are ring pulls, which are attached to one pivot point on a back plate.

Knobs are screwed into drawers or cabinet doors, and tend to be made of brass or porcelain.

Drawer Pulls
These handles are one piece that is attached to a drawer or door that has an indentation which can be gripped by ones fingertips and opened. Drawer pulls are commonly made of brass or wood.

D Handles
These handles are attached to screws on the inside of doors and drawers and are a half-circle or rectangle.

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