Decisions On Period Hardware

9 Connecticut High ChestGenerally, I make the call on what hardware I plan to use on a project during the design phase.  It’s not just about choosing Queen Anne or Chippendale pulls, pierced plates or solid or whether the finish is antiqued or semi-bright. The most important decision is about the placement of the pulls, including how many pulls per drawer.

As I began building furniture, I built pieces based on existing antique furniture found in auctions, in museums and stuffed inside dealers showrooms. How the hardware laid out was already decided. That was a great way to start because it gave me something to look at as I developed an eye for hardware placement. I quickly learned that pieces of William & Mary furniture should have hardware designs from that period. And what those designs were. The same holds true for furniture from other periods.

Chapin style highboy 001Additionally, I discovered that hardware placement was like most things in woodworking – there is more than one way to position the handles and bails, but wrong ways – pulls set too far toward the drawer center, for example – standout like a pine in a forest full of deciduous trees. Make the right call and nobody notices. That’s the way it’s suppose to be. The high chest shown in the opening photo has the pulls aligned from top to bottom; there is a small step out when you move to the lower case due to the drawers being slightly wider.

With Chuck’s Chapin-style high chest, the pulls align except for the bank of drawers that is split into two. Those drawers have the pulls centered, which is exactly where you’d expect them to be. But if you look at the photo (click on it to enlarge), you’ll notice there is another reason for their placement – those pulls are escutcheon pulls (pulls that also have a key hole).

In the latest release from 360 Woodworking, Chuck Bender and I delve into pull placement and provide a few tips on installation. Click here to view and read the article and watch the accompanying video. (Members should be logged in.) If you’re a guest, then sign up for our free membership (it’s free, no kidding) and you’ll be able to see a portion of the article. Plus, if you’re a registered free member, you can watch the video introduction below. It is FREE.

— Glen D. Huey

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