It’s not Bombay, its Bombè!

Brett from Colorado was kind enough to share his gorgeous Bombè chest with so much curve on the bottom, I think this piece has been doing squats.

The chest wears our classic H-81 Chippendale pull. If you’ve ever tackled a project like this, you can imagine the incredible work that went into making it.

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About Chippendale Antique Furniture and Hardware

Chippendale furnitureEven the antique novice is moderately familiar with the term “Chippendale.” But while he or she may not be an expert on its origins, the untrained eye easily recognizes its ornate, florid style. Nevertheless, Chippendale pieces are often confused with Queen Anne, and early 20th century revival reproductions dilute truly authentic pieces. So, if you are restoring or looking for Chippendale furniture and hardware, what should you keep in mind?

A colonial period style in the Americas, the Chippendale aesthetic lasted from 1750 to 1780 and essentially emerged from but overlaps with Queen Anne in some regards. Queen Anne, for some background, is a transitional style, between William and Mary and Chippendale, lasting from 1720 to 1750. The elegant, refined look is considered to have introduced the cabriole leg – a Chippendale staple – and is characterized by fan and shell shapes, yoke-shaped top rails on chairs, and space-saving features. Out of these, the fan motif and yoke-shapes carried over into the Chippendale style, which can be considered more elaborate than Queen Anne.

Aside from the cabriole leg, of which there are six different variations for Chippendale furniture, a claw and ball foot, upholstery, and solid Mahogany are defining characteristics. Nevertheless, the look established by cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale encompassed a range of influences, including not only English style but also Chinese and Gothic motifs.

Because of the complex carving going into Chippendale furniture, pieces are generally made out of solid hardwood – particularly Mahogany from Cuban, Dominican, and Honduran origins, although domestic species can be found. Upholstery, as well, added brocade, velvet, and damask materials. However, within in the colonial United States, cabinet and furniture makers ranged from as far north as New England to the South, and styles and materials changed with area. In Connecticut, for instance, cherry was apparently preferred, while softer hardwoods, such as white pine, were more prevalent in other locations.

Chippendale was not exclusively a colonial American style, and furniture makers across the Atlantic created pieces with this look. What sets stateside-made furniture apart are two design qualities: a block front and a highboy, or a high chest of drawers.

Although Chippendale faded from popularity during the 19th century, it experienced a brief revival at the end of the Victorian period. Perhaps the elaborate look of both furniture styles caused a surge of interest over a century later, but as you shop around for and examine antiques, you might notice that a Chippendale revival piece has a somewhat more restrained look than its authentic 18th century counterparts – mainly, that the carving tends to have less depth.  Today’s handmade reproductions remain incredibly popular, and unlike the revival from the the 19th century, the details are as good as, if not superior, to the original pieces.

Horton Brasses offers a selection of brass Chippendale reproduction hardware — ideal for restoring such period antiques. Aside from the elaborate look, three qualities set Chippendale-style hardware apart from other antique styles: a “bat wing” back plate with an attached bail, mushroom-shaped handles, and looped handles without back plates.

Video Blog

We think our hardware finishes are pretty special.  Each is unique and hand done.  Have you ever wondered how we do it?  This is our first ever video blog post and you can see how we make our antique brass finish.  The video was made in house, with original music and editing done by our very own Pablo Alvarado.  Check it out, its a little less than 4 minutes long.  Please pardon the intro and outro, this was our first time and the delivery still needs some work.




How I Install Drawer Hardware

Recently I was talking projects with a couple of my woodworking buddies.  One was working on a chest of drawers & was complaining about having to measure, mark & drill each pull for every drawer.  I kind of smiled & told him I have a simple solution shortcut for that.  Below is a step by step procedure on how I install drawer pulls on all of my projects.

After I have built & finished my project I get the smallest drawer & lay out the hardware I’ve selected.

Once I’m happy with the location of the escutcheons, I measure the location from one edge of the drawer to the center of the nearest hole for the pull & then measure the distance between holes on center.  My last dimension is the diameter of the hole itself.

antique dresser drawer with chippendale pulls

Armed with that, I grab a piece from the scrap pile & cut it to the height of the drawer.  I mark the top & side locations on the board & lay out the location of both holes.  (In this case the holes are located in the middle of the escutcheon.  This works the same if it it’s off center.)   From here I chuck the correct size bit in my drill press & drill the two lines.


Once that is complete I flip the piece over & mark the top & side.  This becomes my drilling jig for this project.  From here I take the jig & clamp it to one side of the drawer & using the same bit from the drill press I drill my two holes for the post of the pull.


Once I’ve test fit my hardware I flip the jig over & clamp for the opposite side & drill.  Once this drawer is complete, I would do the same process on every remaining drawer.  The only measurement I need is to make sure the jig is centered (top to bottom) on the drawer.


With all of the post pull holes drilled I chuck a ¾” forstner bit into my drill & create shallow counter sink cups on the back side of my drawer front.  This allows me to get my fingers & socket in to tighten the nut when the time comes.


That’s it for the drilling.  Now I turn my attention to the drawer posts of the pull.  They come longer then I need them (which is better than being shorter) so I cut them to size.  Then, using my orbital sander I round the cut edges off.  This ensures the posts won’t snag on any clothes in the years to come.

solid brass posts

Once I have that complete I install the hardware & put the drawers to use.


NOTE:  In this example I used the jig on beaded drawers.   I use this method on lipped drawers & even single pull drawers.