Replacement Drawer Pulls

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 platedpot 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.

Are You Mobile?

We have some exciting new things happening for people who are out and about. First and foremost, a fully mobile comparable website is just about ready-it is done and we are working out some minor bugs at the moment. The URL we’ve always had, but if you login from your phone it is a completely different set up-one that is friendly to small screens-no more pinch and zoom. We’ll let you know when its done.


And even more for the on the move design professional is our new traveling display case. We designed one of these for me (Orion) to take with me to visit customers. It is a completely customized plastic “briefcase” with a molded interior to perfectly carry a selection of hardware. I’ve seen roughly half a dozen customers or so since we made it, and it is something of a hit. More than one person has asked us to design one for them-so we did-and now we’d like to offer it to you.

Why would you want this? So you can easily show a variety of hardware options to your clients in a rather stylish way. Have a small showroom or office? The case keeps a nice selection of items on a shelf, out of the way, and easy to show. Travel to clients homes or offices for meetings? Toss the case in the car and off you go. The version we put on our website is set up with the hardware I wanted to carry-it is a nice selection of our newest lines like the Jefferson and Bourneville ranges, along with a sampling of The Standards and cabinet hinges. But don’t let that limit you. We will custom design this to fit the hardware you want to carry-not us. We even discount the display hardware.

box4-L box3-L box2-L

By the way, if you want to go a bit more upscale, we can have the case made in metal as opposed to plastic.

What do these things have in common?

Dimes 4 drawer chest Crown Point kithen 1

What do these things have in common? One, an Arts & Crafts style kitchen is from Crown Point Cabinetry in Claremont, NH. The other is a tiger maple 4 drawer chest from D.R. Dimes in Northwood, NH.

A few things are obvious: They both are made in New Hampshire, by two companies that are masters of their craft. The both use hardware by Horton Brasses..(what did you think we’d put someone else’s up here?). But more than that? Both are wood. Yes, OK, but that’s not what I am going for.

Both the kitchen and the chest are handmade one of a kind items that are built to last…forever. In a world full of disposable goods-there are numerous smaller companies that just do it different. We are fortunate to work extensively with both of these companies, and many more, that all share some common things. None of us make anything disposable. Everything is done with an eye toward making it the best that it can be. In the case of Crown Point, the kitchens are engineered and designed to be beautiful, functional, and durable. In the case of Dimes, each piece is a heirloom-a future antique if you will.

To borrow a line from Glen Hueybuild something great. To apply that to our hardware it means make something that is looks beautiful, feels even better, and lasts..forever. We are fortunate to work with many companies around the world that believe that just as we do. We hope you do too.

Mixed Metals-Kitchen and Bath

Matching or mixing finishes- Do my kitchen pulls need to match my faucet? What about my lighting? How about the door hardware (architectural hardware)?

We get this question a lot-it may be one of the most frequently asked questions both to us and in various online forums like Houzz. Ultimately, mixing and matching is a matter of personal taste. We do know that when done with purpose and taste, mixed finishes on hardware, lighting, faucets, and appliances can create visual interest, a focal point, or define spaces within a whole.

Homes with a strong unified style probably benefit from matching. Whether its a modern home or an arts & crafts bungalow. But most of our homes are a bit of a mix anyway. Particularly older homes, Colonial homes with decades, or centuries, of additions and renovations reflect the styles of many time periods. And we love them for it. But is it ever too much? Are there certain rooms that should and should not match?

The bathroom and kitchen share similarities. Cabinets, faucets, tile, counter tops. In shops and online, kitchens and bathrooms go hand in hand. But what about in your own house? Did you repeat the same cabinets and tile in your bathroom that you used in your kitchen?

Now, some people find a product and love it so much they want to use it in as many places as they can. They buy their faucets all from one line, use the same hardware in the same finish and even request that the powder room vanity top be cut from the same slab adorning the kitchen island. And then there are people who want to keep the two rooms as separate as can be, drawing as little association between the kitchen and bathroom as possible. Because they don’t want to be reminded of what they do in the bathroom while in the kitchen. To them, there is an ick factor.

But is there a middle ground?

bath 1

kitchen 1

There are homeowners who find great solace in using a single finish throughout their house. If everything is, say, satin nickel, then it is a real no-brainer when shopping for door knobs, bookends, salad tongs, faucets, lamps, etc. Satin nickel it is. This approach streamlines the decision process but still allows for variety. The kitchen cabinets may display satin nickel bin pulls while the bathroom cabinets only use satin nickel knobs. There is unity in design, but the actual hardware shape does not repeat. As a result, no direct association is made between the bathroom and the kitchen but the elements still flow.

Another option is to use the same exact hardware but in a different finish. For example, polished nickel pulls mounted on white painted cabinets in the kitchen will take on a completely different look when the same style pull appears in an antique finish on a quartersawn oak bathroom vanity.

Ultimately, it is a matter of personal preference. So, what do you prefer? Do you match your finishes throughout your house or do you like to mix it up? Are your bathrooms and kitchen coordinated or did you purposefully design them to look unrelated? Leave a comment letting us know.

Both the kitchen and bath in the above pictures feature a traditional look, using a 5-piece raised panel cherry door topped with giallo ornamental granite. Sinks, faucets and counter edges differ. Are these looks too similar for your taste or not similar enough?

Leake’s Furniture Makers, York, South Carolina

John and Jay Leake are a father & son team making furniture in rural York, South Carolina (about 25 miles or so outside of Charlotte, NC). Leakes is a 4th generation business that started in the 1950’s as an antique dealer and has evolved into a custom furniture business. I could go on and on about John and Jay. But let’s keep it simple-I was fortunate enough to get the chance to visit them last week and they showed me what southern hospitality is all about. From lunch at a local restaurant to a great tour of their shop and showroom. Real southern hospitality, food, and company.

Anyway, the Leakes make a beautiful southern cellarette that I wanted to share with you. A cellarette is, in essence, a liquor cabinet with a pull out tray to pour on and a space for glasses. This design is specific to the south in general, and specifically a region covering parts of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. It is a two piece design and the box on top comes off the base so that the bottles can be filled and loaded from barrels (traditionally, liquor was stored in barrels in the basement and decanters were filled as needed). The primary wood is solid walnut with poplar as the secondary. The piece is hefty-a full 7/8″ thick, with handcut dovetails and inlay-of course. Each piece is delivered by John and/or Jay and even comes with that a starter for your liquor collection-you can see it right in the picture. By the way-I highly recommend the contents of the jar.

Leakes southern cellarette

Leakes southern cellarette


Each piece signed by the maker-

20150415_114412 20150415_114427 20150415_114533

Got any plans in June?

How about Knoxville, TN the weekend of June 12th? The SAPFM mid year conference might be just what you’re looking for. From their press release:

SAPFM Summer Conference
June12-14 Knoxville, Tennessee

This year the Society of American Period Furniture Makers will hold its annual conference June 12-14 at the East Tennessee History Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. Knoxville, the site of the 1982 World’s Fair, is a great new destination for SAPFM and the ETHC is a superb venue with an outstanding collection of period furniture.

On Friday author and furniture scholar Betsy White will give a keynote presentation on Tennessee furniture and its origins and attendees will have the day for in depth study of the collection. On Saturday the conference will follow its usual format with three presentations. Cabinetmaker and Cartouche’ winner Al Breed will discuss and demonstrate veneering curved surfaces and mitered panels. The furniture making team of Jeff Headley and Steve Hamilton will demonstrate construction of a tall clock case and conservator, author and finishing “guru” Don Williams will discuss strategies for duplicating period finishes. The attendees will divide into three sections so that each presentation will be to a smaller group, allowing greater access to the speakers. On Sunday there will be additional presentations by authors and furniture scholars Tracy Parks and Amber Clawson on Tennessee cabinetmakers. The program includes lunches, happy hours and dinners.

On the Monday after the conference there are plans for a special bus tour of a local historic house site with additional furniture.

Further information on the program, presenters, lodging and cost, as well as registration information, is available on the Society’s website

Service and reliability matter

Hello there and Happy Thanksgiving. I received this email from a long term customer of ours this morning. A bit of a background here, this person placed a blanket purchase order for 3000 pair of our NM-7 in polished nickel back in April. Deliveries were 300 pair at various roughly once a month from then until Monday of this week. The first delivery and last delivery were for 600 pair. Here is what they wrote:

Good morning Orion!

Have just received the last of PO xxxx

I want to thank you for your vigilance in getting this accomplished

With such accuracy.


As we discussed before I don’t have many vendors

That could have done this so flawlessly!


Hope we both get the opportunity to do it again soon!


And more importantly

I hope you and your family have

The most wonderful Thanksgiving ever!!!



Introducing The Queslett Knob

We have so many new things coming out in the next month, we can barely stand it. This is our newest knob-the Queslett Knob. This knob and plate combination matches our existing line of Queslett bin pulls and stands on its own as well. As with all of our hardware, it is available in all 7 of our finishes. We are featuring it here in our polished nickel finish.

What is Queslett you might ask? Well Queslett is an old affluent area of Birmingham, and according to legend was the birthplace of Squire Queslett who accompanied Sir Ivanhoe on the Crusades. Allegedly he was well known and praised for his cullinary skills and well-ordered kitchen!

Horton Brasses Queslett knob in polished nickel finish

Horton Brasses Queslett knob in polished nickel finish

The entire Queslett range is forged from solid brass in Birmingham, England, with finishing done in our Cromwell, CT factory.

Extreme Makeover..

We’ve been making and selling hardware for roughly 78 years now. Our product line and the way we do things has changed with the times. In the beginning we primarily sold hardware out of the basement in Berlin, CT, to antique dealers from the northeast who knew my great grandparents. By the late 1940’s we had expanded a fair bit and produced our first printed catalogs. I still have some of these books, and the earliest ones were mimeographed. Unfortunately, the smell is long gone!

1-Catalog January 1 1950

Catalog dated January 1, 1950.

Time passed and moved to our current Cromwell location in 1964. The catalog at the time was a bit different, but still pretty similar-no more mimeographed copies though.

5-Catalog #93

Catalog #93, 1963-64

6-Change of Address 1965

Throughout the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s, mail order was our primary business-but we still did a lot of showroom business. Heck, at one point we were open Saturdays (oh, the humanity!). With this in mind, our catalog style tended towards very utilitarian. Plain simple photos designed to give the details you needed when working on antique piece of furniture, and by the late 80’s, increasingly, on new reproduction pieces made by companies like D.R. Dimes, J.L Treharn, and Eldred-Wheeler.

In 1996, we introduced our first color catalog (thanks Mom).

20-Catalog #196

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a color picture might be worth 2,000. The color catalog was a huge leap, and brought us into the 20th century, right in the end. And this worked, our catalog showed you exactly what we had and how it worked. Still, very utilitarian. Incidentally, 1996 was a big year-it was the year we launched our very first website-which at the time was essentially a catalog online-no e-commerce functionality.

Throughout the rest of the 90’s and into the 2000’s, our style was essentially unchanged. Head on pictures of hardware mounted on wooden boards, as much as we could squeeze on a page. It was simple, attractive, and easy to use. But…sometimes things have to change. Our products are beautiful, functional, authentic, and made to last a lifetime. They have style, and increasingly, come from the design world. The style needs to change. We have been working at changing our presentation for a while now, but we never had the pictures we wanted. Enter Pablo. Pablo is our web guy/designer/photographer/art director. He figured it out. Below are several samples from our upcoming catalog, tentatively numbered 79-for our 79th year in business.

casters1 (1) casters2 chesthardware cupboardhardware1 K56spread1 trunkcorners Bedironspread binpullspread

Enough about hardware, lets talk about software..

Yesterday, we were fortunate enough to appear in a short piece in our local paper, The Middletown Press. They came to see us and talk about our new
“cloud based e-commerce solution”.  I promise, there are more buzzwords to follow.

Why did we decide to go with a “cloud e-commerce solution anyway? A variety of reasons.

One, our existing web site developer and host was evolving and getting out of e-commerce altogether. So we had to change our website in some way. Either by porting it over to a new firm for hosting and management, or by redoing it entirely.

Two, we had been using a database and order management system that we developed, that ran off Microsoft Access. When Toby developed that software in 1991 it was light years ahead of its time. We continued to upgrade and improve it over the years, including a total update in 2003, but it had become obsolete. Obsolete is bad, but worse, it was becoming unstable. Running on a secure peer to peer network, with offsite back up works, for a while. Until it doesn’t; and it fails catastrophically. At that point we would have been without a way to process orders and and customer records until we could get the system back in action. We needed to upgrade before it was too late.

Three, efficiency. In order to be competitive, we needed completely integrated software. Our previous system consisted of four distinct components-the website, the database the shipping software, and the credit card processing portal. We spent a large portion of every day moving information around between those four systems. It was enormously time consuming and while we were very vigilant, it was error prone. We wanted to integrate all 4 of those functions into one seamless unified package.

So those were our three “needs”. At the same time, we wanted to add some common e-commerce features for all of our customers and provide a modern e-commerce experience that is Amazon like in its efficiency. Instant order confirmations, automatic back order notifications, visibility across all channels. IE, you can order over the phone, then login and see your order history, and easier returns. Lastly, we wanted to be able to email invoices in the common PDF format (if you ever got one of our old RTF format invoices, you know what I mean).

So in September of 2013 we started on our search. We did numerous demo’s and phone consultations with all types of e-commerce providers. Some were with companies you may have heard of, like Magento and Shopify. Others we tried were smaller or open source, like WordPress. Finally, after four months, we settled on a company in Bridgeport, CT called GoECart.

GoEcart offers a much more comprehensive service than most solutions-they do the hosting and the “shopping cart”. Additionally, their software fully integrates everything we do with the shipping module as a separate, but fully supported piece of software. We spent 6 months building out all of our product data, customer information, glossaries, and website data, finally, we launched on June 10th of this year. All of the pieces came together. The very first day we were operating the system, it was clear to everyone here that we had made huge improvements in efficiency and customer service. No longer would our clients have to wait until we shipped their order for confirmation, no longer would our clients be separated as web or phone customers. All the data, all in one place, securely backed up offsite in server farm.

Why do I think this matters to you? Because you, as a client, need to know that we have all of our ducks in order. That we will be able to get you what you ordered, when you want it, every time. And you want to know that your information is secure, and that we are in position to continue to deliver the products that many of you have used for decades.