One area of expertise we have is replacing the drawer pulls on existing pieces of furniture. In this case, I am not talking about 18th century antiques in this case-but good quality furniture from the 20th century. There are a number of approaches you can take depending on what you’re after, and a few pieces of information about both the furniture and hardware from that era that may be helpful. So, here goes.
Mass produced furniture from the 20th century, with a few exceptions for some Mission style and Mid Century Mod stuff, doesn’t really have a lot of monetary value.
There is much more to value than money though. Sentimental value counts too! Maybe its a hand-me-down from your grandmother. Maybe it’s your childhood dresser? Who knows, the point is its valuable to you! Beyond sentimental value there is real value in making something usable again. Reduce, reuse, recycle, etc. Taking a solidly built, if mass produced, piece of furniture from the 50’s, refinishing it, and replacing some hardware takes something out of the landfill and in to your life. That seems like a good thing to me.
I am not an expert in the refinishing process, so I will leave that to others, but I do know a thing or two about replacing some or all of the hardware.
Most hardware from the 1930’s on, that was used on mass produced furniture, is brass plated pot metal. Pot metal breaks, it cannot be polished, and it is more or less disposable. Solid brass lasts forever and can be refinished more or less, forever. When replacing drawer pulls, the first thing you need to know is the boring size. The boring is the distance from the middle of one hole to the middle of the other hole. That tells you what size you need. Replacement pulls are sized by bore. Once you have determined the boring, you can start your search. Exact matches, while possible, are rare. Most people choose to do one of three things:
1. Replace all the drawer pulls in a similar style.
2. Replace all the pulls in a completely different style to update the look.
3. Replace just the broken pulls with similar, but not identical, pulls.
Replacing all the drawer pulls? Just pick something you like, that fits (if possible), and go to it. But what about replacing a couple pulls and having a mismatch? Does that work? That’s a little more complex. It does work, and it is period correct, but let’s face it, period correct for an 18th century original really doesn’t matter here. How does it look? It can look great, and it is economical. Here is an example:
Judy was kind enough to share her dresser picture with us. This is what she wrote:
“The new pulls are fabulous! While not an ‘exact’ design match, they fit perfectly on my 20+ year old china base. I was so fortunate to find you on the internet. You were the only merchant that had the 3-3/4 bore required for my drawer. The quality is excellent. I actually wish the original pulls were so nice.”
So there you have it.