Interview With a Furnituremaker: Glen Huey

Glen Huey is known not only as an exceptional craftsman, but also a thorough teacher. Amongst woodworkers, his plans are famously meticulous, demonstrating extreme care and attention to detail. As the former editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine, Glen’s experience with various hardware lines is extensive.

Here, Glen answers some questions about selecting hardware for your furniture piece, as well as how to seer clear of blunders that will surely detract from your project.

1. At what point in the design process do you begin thinking about hardware selection? What factors influence your hardware selection?

Due to the fact that most of my work is reproduction or maybe it’s better said that they are adaptations, hardware selections are generally made as I pick the piece to build. If a chest has Chippendale drawer pulls, that’s what I would use on my chest as well. If the chest has Hepplewhite ….

Where a call has to be made is if there are no exact reproduction pieces available. In that case, I select hardware that is as close a match as possible.

2. As a builder of reproduction furniture, you obviously strive to achieve historically accurate results. When choosing reproduction hardware, are you concerned with the method in which the hardware is made or are you solely focused on the final appearance of the hardware?

I look at the quality of the hardware. I’m not interested in hardware that does not display characteristics of period designs – I seldom find hardware at home center stores, but do occasionally find selections at woodworking stores. A second major consideration I have deals with availability. I know what hardware I plan to use because of the piece I am working from, but I seldom order hardware before I begin working on the piece. I am not interested in ordering from a company that takes weeks and sometimes months to produce and send my selections. This, along with the quality and shear number of products, is one of the major reasons that Horton Brass has become my go-to hardware supplier when building pieces based on period designs.

3. As a transplant to the South, I enjoyed reading your 2007 article in Popular Woodworking that accompanied the picture and plans for the Southern Sugar Chest. I love that you place the chest in its historical context, thus making the detail of the keyhole noteworthy and significant. The back-story highlights the importance of getting the hardware right for historical accuracy. Have you come across folks out there who spend large amounts of time creating beautiful works of furniture only to blow it by messing up the details of the hardware?

Thank you for your nice comments. Sugar chests and cellarets – predominately pieces found in the south – are a particular favorite of mine. Choices made while building period-designed pieces are an area that constantly amazes me. It’s not just hardware selections where some woodworkers drop the ball. It’s lumber, too. If you are to invest a substantial amount of your time building a piece of furniture that should be around for multiple generations, why would one choose to skimp on the two most important aspects of that piece. Invest in top-quality hardware and buy the best lumber you can afford, period.


SOUTHERN SUGAR CHEST

4. A little more than a year ago, Dave Griessmann did a post for this blog comparing Horton Brasses hardware with the hardware you used on a gorgeous Line & Berry Chest of Drawers that appeared on the cover of Popular Woodworking’s December 2010 issue. The comparison photos showed that a similar look was attainable at almost a  $200 savings simply by using the Horton Brasses hardware. That kind of blew my mind. What did you think of the side-by-side comparison?

I had the opportunity to see the comparison up close, and I must say that upon close inspection you could see a difference. Was that difference enough to pull the trigger on the more expensive hardware? Not in my opinion. Horton’s pulls provided the same look and I achieved the same results while saving the excess for future projects.

However, I would make that call if my customer were after an exact replica of the chest. Also, because many of my projects are built for publication, I find it necessary to select quality hardware without breaking the bank to do so.

5. Do you have a formula to help you decide how much money to budget/allow for hardware? Does the scale of the project or the style of the piece inform that decision?

I will refer to my answer to question #2. I do not budget hardware – I pick the proper hardware and never worry about costs (unless it is excessive). I more interested in getting the look correct.

6. Knobs and pulls are thought of as mainly decorative while hinges are identified more for functionality. How do you identify a hinge that’s going to perform?

I’m not sure I agree that knobs and pulls are decorative or that hinges are simply functional – h-hinges function and can add to the overall look of your project. I buy hinges just as I do other hardware: match the look of the original piece, but I also make sure the hinge works with my project. And yes, I do make bad choices once in a while.

 Editors note:  In our opinion good hinges are critical to a piece of furniture or cabinetry.

7. What is the most common error you see in choosing or mounting furniture hardware?

In choosing hardware, it’s easy to get sizes wrong. It’s easy to select drawer hardware that is too large for your project – one of my faults is that I picture furniture in my mind much larger than it is when built. This is another reason that I do not order hardware until I get into the project. You can get by if your selection is a bit smaller than the original, but if a plate hangs over the edge of a drawer it is not going to work.

Mounting hardware is a science in itself. I get general placement ideas from pieces that I copy, but I find it best to place hardware onto the project to see if the look is right. The most common error I see is pulls set too far toward the middle of a chest of drawers. The trick is to set your pulls to help your eye travel toward the center then upward. Too much toward the center causes your eye to jump.

8. Horton Brasses offers customers the option of ordering custom iron forged hardware as well as custom brass casting. What was the last project you completed where you needed custom hardware?

I cannot recall a project where I had custom hardware made from scratch. I am more apt to have knobs transformed into cupboard turns, or get larger fingers made for smaller knobs used as turns.

9. Finally, what is your favorite piece of hardware from Horton Brasses?

Let me first state that I am impressed that Horton includes screws with its hardware. One thing that displeases me greatly is to search around for, or have to remember to order, the appropriate screws. As for favorite hardware, I have to say there are two pieces that I particularly like.

One I use frequently, h-hinges. The other, escutcheon pull, is something I have used on a couple chests I’ve built along the way. The hinges are very clean and crisp with beveled edges for great detail, and the knuckles are tight to eliminate slop but still operate smoothly. I like the escutcheon pulls primarily due to the fact that they are seldom seen in use. They are eye-catching.

 Editors note:  An escutcheon pull is a complete drawer pull with a keyhole in it.  Available on request.

Thank you, Glen, for giving us your time and sharing your wisdom.

Keep up with Glen Huey at his blog, Woodworker’s Edge

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Going Modern With Macintosh

Okay.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

The Macintosh style pulls from Horton Brasses are one of my favorites.

Sure. Charles Rennie Macintosh was a turn of the century architect who died in 1928 at the too-young age of 60, but the organic, minimalist lines of his designs beckoned an era of modernist design.

Which is why I think these pulls (also available in coordinating appliance handles) go so well with the MCM design aesthetic.

But don’t just take my word for it. This morning, while doing my daily rounds on the internet, I spotted this photo from Clayhaus Ceramics, a super cool independently operated handmade tile studio out of Portland.

Now, this is not Horton Brasses’ pull pictured here, but obviously, the styling is similar. Not sure if those are bamboo cabinets or some type of veneer but the slab doors, Macintosh style hardware, and muted retro colors definitely build a look.  All of the lines are clean. There is nothing extraneous. Yet the details—vessel sink, wall mounted faucets, multi-colored offset tile, exotic looking cabinet wood, and gently curved cabinet hardware—all add layers of richness.

When considering a modern design in your kitchen or bath, don’t feel that your only option is the European bar pull. Yes, it is tried and true. But other, less obvious, designs also work. The hardware used in the above picture stopped me in my web crawling tracks.

What, in this bathroom, grabs your attention?

Book Review: Furniture Brasses by Mark P. McGrail

Since my last post was British influenced, I figure, why change equines mid-stream.

For all you hardware and furniture nerds out there, Mark P. McGrail’s book, Furniture Brasses, A short History of English Furniture Fittings, is a great little resource.

Mark is pretty much The Man when it comes to furniture hardware. He’s been in the business almost 20 years and is the Director at Armac Martin Brassworks. Now, if you are not up on the furniture hardware industry, you probably haven’t heard of Armac Martin. But I can assure you, if you’ve ever drooled over the kitchens featured in House Beautiful Magazine, you’ve drooled over Mark’s brassy genius.

This book is a hoot! Expecting a dry read, I was pleased to come across such gems as Mark’s commentary accompanying this drawing:

Looking here at this chair you could be forgiven for thinking it has come out of some ultra modern 1970’s apartment when in fact it was designed and produced in Germany by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1929.

Big British LOL there!

The dry humour persists throughout the book. Another favourite of mine:

Whilst it is widely felt that the Victorian style of furniture was ostentatious and gaudy it was at least a definite style, a positive taste appropriate to the spirit of the period. This cannot be said of early Edwardian furniture. Much of the furniture made at the outset of the twentieth century was no more than a shoddy imitation, following on from the mediaeval flavour of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Ouch.

And this pic:

Don’t even think about putting non-suitable hardware on that dresser!

Blunt writing style, extensive drawings and interjections of editorial commentary make what could otherwise be a snoozer a clever little pocket guide that’s sized too large to fit into one’s pocket. Still, I like having it on my desk whilst writing about hardware. There is no index but the organization is linear in time so not a big deal.

And since my new thing (as of Thurday) is Campaign furniture, I’ll share with you the succinct writings on this style.

The Napoleonic wars created their own style of furniture which became known as Military or Campaign furniture. It was designed to make the maximum use of the storage space in the hold of a ship when transported overseas. The chests, desks, trunks and sideboards had no projections at all, even the brass handles were recessed into the wood.

I know Orion has a few of these books hanging around the office so if you just have to have one for yourself, ask him to throw one in with your order of Classic English Hardware and get that droolable look for your own kitchen.

A Special Commission: Campaign Furniture Hardware

One thing I love about this very odd job blogging about furniture hardware is the opportunity to expand my knowledge base. I cannot tell you how many times I watched Jewel in the Crown, The English Patient and other films with a strong colonial British showing without knowing the proper term for all that striking military luggage-like furniture.

Despite a history of vast travels throughout the British Empire, the majority of Campaign furniture has settled in England and is available through reputable antique dealers such as Christopher Clarke. Additionally, reproductions also seem to be an English specialty. In the United States, retailers seem to carry only metal frame pieces vaguely inspired by these wooden works of exceptional craftsmanship.

image courtesy of Christopher Clarke

Furniture With History

Campaign furniture’s design caters to the refined taste of high ranking military officers and government officials of late 18th and early 19th century England. These men traveled the world with pomp and privilege. Campaign furniture made the comforts of home portable, with specialized compartments for equipment, maps, uniforms, etc. The pieces were well made, practical and designed to withstand the rough travels over sea and land. Chest-like desks and other pieces would sit atop metal stands to avoid the wet ground when out in the field.

Time To Bring In The Special Forces

Because of fluctuating exchange rates and the expense (and hassle) associated with shipping from abroad, bringing one of these Campaign furniture pieces over from England is not easy. Today, the majority of reproduction pieces are built in England.

In the U.S., however, campaign furniture pieces commissioned by antique dealers and high-end retailers often go to one man esteemed for his unsurpassed craftsmanship, Douglas P. Dimes of famed D.R. Dimes.

This cherry wood table is a recent example of the fine work done by, D.R. Dimes and their ability to create historically accurate reproductions down to the smallest details. One distinguishing detail of Campaign furniture is the intricate hardware, designed to embellish the piece, keeping functionality in mind. The recessed hardware design kept the metalwork from catching.

Campaign furniture’s flush mounted hardware, a unique style that later permeated other applications of colonial furniture, could not be approached as an afterthought. The flush-mounted hardware is intrinsic to actual construction of the table. Therefore, Doug turned to Horton Brasses for specially commissioned brass.

Horton Brasses had the unique ability to make the custom hardware for me and understand what it should actually look like and work.  There are any number of companies that could do the work but Orion and his people have an institutional knowledge that can only come from a multi generational family owned business.  I know what I needed but I am in the furniture business.  To have a vendor that gives me the answers as opposed to asking questions is very important.   The fact that I have a very good relationship with Orion both professionally and to a degree personally makes working with Horton Brasses both valuable and a pleasure.  I wish I had more vendors like them.

–Douglas P. Dimes

Updating The Jelly Cupboard

Whether you inherited your jelly cupboard or found it at an antique shop, this cute piece of free-standing furniture can flummox even the savviest home decorator accustomed to a kitchen of built-ins and bolted-downs. Here are some suggestions on how to update that old jelly cupboard in both style and function.

  1. Traditional jelly cupboards are outfitted with wood knobs. Switch to these pewter knobs from Horton Brasses ($9-$11) for durable new hardware with an antique look.
  2. Jam is still an option! Due to a resurgence in home canning, you may just want to have a cupboard dedicated to the food you’ve put up. Don’t have time to can? Keep the cupboard culinary by using it as a place to store cookbooks.
  3. Where to stash those re-usable shopping bags after you’ve unpacked your groceries but haven’t quite made it out to the trunk of your car? Fold them up and store in your jelly cupboard.
  4. Who says the jelly cupboard needs to go in your kitchen or dining room? Tuck it away in your craft room and use it to shelve fabric squares, spools of thread, even gift wrap!
  5. Tradition is nice, but originality is (sometimes) even nicer! Ditch the knobs and screw on some shiny new pulls to make the jelly cupboard your own (Bakes Pull from Horton Brasses $40-$195).
  6. Refinish, repaint, repair! Nothing like a new coat of paint or a new set of hinges to take the scrappiest flea market find and transform it into an antique shop beauty. Affix a white marble or zinc top to the cabinet to really make it special.
  7. Make it shine with these round knobs in polished nickel ($16.75-$21) . Available in 6 other finishes, I favor the contrast of a bright nickel finish paired with an old rustic cupboard.
  8. Store your specialized kitchen tools. A place for everything and everything in its place. Keep the cupboard full of your favorite kitchen go-to’s and avoid the searching messy drawers for those job-specific essentials.
  9. Get the kids involved setting the table by storing dinnerware in this low cupboard as opposed to shelved in hard to reach uppers.
  10. From jelly to gin! these old cupboards may get more use as “mommy’s medicine cabinet.” Fill it with your favorite booze and barware thus converting the antiquated jelly cupboard to a modern liquor cabinet.
  11. Spool knobs ($5.50) add a bit of antique quirk to the cabinet. A great detail, especially if your want to add a touch of an old aesthetic to a jelly cupboard that is new construction.
  12. Safety first! Use your jelly cupboard to store the fire extinguisher and first aid kit. Since jelly cupboards often are placed in dining or living rooms adjacent or open to the kitchen, the location is spot on for these items.
  13. Repurpose the jelly cupboard as a gardening cupboard. The perfect size for a mudroom, the taller than it is wide construction of the jelly cupboard is a space saver and also perfectly sized to hold gardening shoes, gloves, watering cans and an assortment of gardening gear.

How do you use your jelly cupboard?

INSTALLING BALL CATCHES

The other day I was thumbing through a copy of a woodworking magazine at the newsstand and an article on installing a ball catch caught my eye.

While I was looking at the photos & reading the supporting text for them I kept coming to the conclusion that it seemed to be a bit over thought or complicated to me.

It also brought me back to an email I received awhile back from Orion where a customer wrote him to show off a jig he made to do the same thing.

The reason for Orion sending it to me was that he was a bit confused on how it exactly worked & he was wondering if I could walk him through this.

So a few days passed & one day while on my way home, while stuck in traffic, I started thinking about both of the examples (which I do realize both work) and that there had to be a simpler way.

So when I got home, I started to mock up a small cabinet & came up with a solution that requires a small jig & a clamp.  Listed below is how I went about making the jig & how to use it.

MAKING THE JIG:

Step 1: First, I cut a block of wood to the size of ¾” x 2” x 2”.

Step 2: Using my marking gauge, I divide the top across the length & width.  I then rotate the block 90 degrees & make the side the same way.

Step 3: I then head to my drill press & drill a 7/16” diameter hole though the block, top to bottom, at the intersection of my marks.  I then rotate the block 90 degrees & repeat the procedure.

Step 4: I then cut a piece of small plywood to be 2” x 3” & glue it to the face of my block.  (I make sure that 3 of the 4 sides are flush.)

That finishes the construction of the jig.

Using this jig I can locate the hole for both parts of the ball catch: 1” in from the edge & center on my ¾” door.

USING THE JIG:

To drill the hole for the ball piece, I clamp the jig to the top of my door.  Next, with a 7/16” drill bit I plow out the waste while being sure to stop at my depth mark.  (In this case I’m going high tech with painters tape!)

Then for the catch piece, I just clamp the jig to the inside top of the case while making sure the jig is pushed against the edge.  Using the same drill bit I again plow out the waste.

I then turn the case upside down & push the catch into place.

After flipping the case right side up, I then insert the ball part.  However, I was only able to push this in so far so I had to finish pushing it by giving it a few taps with my wooden mallet.

And then I simply tested the operation by opening and closing the door to see if the catch would hold.  It worked perfectly!

BONUS:

So you might be asking what was the reason for making the jig with two holes” (1 top to bottom & 1 side to side)?   It was so you could use it if you happen to have a profile on the case.

Instead of clamping the jig to the top of the case, you would simply rotate the jig 90 degrees & clamp it to the side of the case while still drilling up into the top for that catch.

Nickel Reproduction Hardware: Traditional Design with a Modern Finish

When Life Hands You Brass, Ask For Nickel

Imagine this.

You inherit a collection of furniture. Not just any furniture. No. Queen Anne furniture. It’s lovely. It’s solid. It’s beautiful cherry wood with bright brass hardware.

18th century inspired highboy by D.R. Dimes

You look around your bedroom. The armoire is Ikea. The nightstands are Target. You feel no regret upgrading to real furniture, yet every night you wake up in a cold sweat from the same dream.

You are in your home. It is a palette of neutrals, punctuated by the cooling glint of nickel hardware doorknobs, cabinet hardware and light fixtures. In your dream you walk into your bedroom, eager to retire after an exhausting yet pleasant day in your life. And then you are blinded by a horrible light—bright yellow and smelling like mothballs. Yes, the light smells like mothballs.

And when you wake up swathed in your own terrified sweat you realize the source of that terrorizing light—the bright brass hardware on your newly inherited furniture.

But what to do? This is traditional period furniture with a distinctive decorative look.  It would be inappropriate to switch out the chased brass pulls and replace them with contemporary looking knobs.

But wait. There’s a style compromise that will surely pay respect to the form while updating the look for today’s tastes.

Horton Brasses Queen Anne Drawer Pulls are available in 5 different brass finishes as well as satin nickel and polished nickel. Update the look of your hardware while keeping in line with tradition. Stay ahead of the style curve by pairing archetypical hardware with the most popular finish of the day. The juxtaposing of classic furniture and hardware in a modern nickel finish will add an unexpected element of style to a room. And help you overcome your night terrors.

WWW&MD? (What Would William & Mary Do?)

Sure, William & Kate are all over the news—with reports about how nobody really cares about William & Kate. But what about William & Mary?  Why no mention these days of William & Mary?

One thing I am certain of is that William & Mary’s impact on style—particularly furniture—will far outlive that of William & Kate. I highly doubt that William & Kate will even have anything remotely to do with furniture, so let’s just skip over them altogether.

If William & Mary were alive today, surely they would recognize the beauty of Horton Brasses 5 brass finishes along with the 2 nickel finishes. I can almost hear William & Mary now, summoning Orion back to the 1600’s by sending a beautiful time machine, tricked out in walnut lacquered, silk upholstered ottomans. Not only would Orion have to go back in time, but he would also have to cross the Atlantic to get from Cromwell, CT to England. Once there, William & Mary would inquire about the future of their legacy. It is at that point that Orion unveils these beautiful drop pulls from the future.

A hush falls over the royal court. The king’s men are silent, wondering what their ruler will think of such oddly finished hardware. Marveling at the craftsmanship of Horton Brasses hardware, admiring the cool tones of the nickel finish, William & Mary step off their thrones, bowing before Orion. They remove their crowns, cast off their royal jewels, and award Orion their kingdom, thus saving the world of any hooplah related to the royal wedding of William & Kate approximately 350 years later.

Choose Quality, Don’t Compromise On Style

Traditional style hardware looks striking when finished in unexpected polished or satin nickel. Nickel is a finish that is here to stay. It is one of the most popular finishes in cabinets and home furnishings. At Horton Brasses, we offer our period reproduction hardware in traditional finishes as well as nickel. Don’t be afraid to try something different on your fine furniture. Nickel looks amazing on darker cabinetry such as walnut as well as rift sawn white oak.

Gustav Stickley @ the Dallas Museum of Art

Running until May 8th, the Dallas Museum of Art is holding a comprehensive retrospective examining the life and work of Gustav Stickley, a name synonymously tied to the American Arts & Crafts movement. According to the museum’s website, “This exhibition will include over 100 works produced by Stickley’s designers and workshops, including furniture, metalwork, lighting and textiles, along with drawings and related designs.” 

Ring pulls of the Arts & Crafts movement feature a strong backplate, angular design and heavy brass construction.

Stickley’s signature look took off in the summer of 1900 when he created a furniture line he dubbed New Furniture, later to be widely known as Arts & Crafts. Using quartersawn white oak and other locally grown woods, more than just furniture emerged from Stickley’s Binghamton, NY workshop–a philosophy was also born. Simple. Organic. An emphasis on craftsmanship and construction, the furniture of the Arts & Crafts movement  relied on the beauty of the wood’s grain as the dominant decorative element. The idea of “truth to materials” informed the woodworking, eschewing superfluous ornamentation in favor of traditional skills. Furniture’s construction itself was highlighted as a thing of beauty. For example, exposed joinery is a trademark look. In general, the movement was born out of a backlash against industrialization and machine-made production. Although originally rooted in England, Gustav Stickley’s designs transplanted these principles to America and spread them through his furniture and magazine, The Craftsman.

These hammered knobs in a dark finish are best sellers, replicating the the hardware produced during the Arts & Crafts period.

Hardware was an important element to Arts & Crafts furniture, adding a signature look to the simple aesthetic. Hand forged hardware in hammered metals such as iron or aged copper were mounted on an otherwise unadorned design. Horton Brasses offers an extensive line of Arts & Crafts style hardware to complete the look of your furniture or kitchen. The manufacturing of the hardware is authentic to the name. Just check out some of the blog posts by smiths Molly and George to get an idea of true made in America manufacturing.

Are you in the Dallas area? Will you make it over to the exhibit? If you are unable to get there but still a Stickley fan, check out the museums DIY challenge and don’t forget your Horton Brasses hardware to finish off your project. Pictures? Yes, we’d love to see them!

Interview With A Cabinet Maker : Douglas P. Dimes

 

picture courtesy of D.R. Dimes & Company

Douglas P. Dimes of D. R. Dimes & Co. creates show-stopping reproduction furniture and kitchen cabinetry. As the owner of a business passed down from his father, his experience as a boy cleaning up in his dad’s shop. These days, D. R. Dimes leads the industry in period furniture, with pieces appearing in museums, in movies, and of course, in some of the finest homes in America.

Continuing our series of interviews with cabinet makers, I had the opportunity to ask the younger Mr. Dimes about cabinet hardware, kitchens, Hollywood, tiger maple and the environment. 

I think you’ll enjoy this one. His New England charm definitely shines through.

On Horton Brasses Hardware

How long have you been working with Horton Brasses?

Douglas Dimes: We have been working with Horton Brasses for over 25 years.  They are perfectly suited for our type of work which makes them a natural vendor.  There are other vendors we can use but there is no one else in the marketplace with the selection, quality and personal service we get from Horton Brasses.  They are so reliable it’s one of those cases where you take them for granted. 

What percentage of the hardware you use is from HB? 

Well over 50% of the hardware we use is by Horton Brasses and seems to be ever increasing. 

On Designing Kitchens

Your kitchen cabinetry is very dramatic and makes a statement on its own. How do you choose appropriate hardware for it? 

Since we started as chairmakers we have the ability to make all manner of custom wood knobs.  Increasingly our product line has become more formal which requires brass knobs.  The 2108 Guilford Cupboard is a good example.  We built the first one in 1989 and have sold hundreds of them since then.  We selected the P-97 1 ¼” brass knob with the antique finish.  The piece was so successful that the hardware has become synonymous with the cupboard.  Both our employees and our customers refer to the knob as a “Guilford knob”. Kitchens are a little more involved.  The clients taste is paramount but the existing architecture and décor must be considered.  While many customers’ requests wood knobs, when brass is required I usually give the customer three options, all from the Horton Brasses Collection.  That way the customer gets choices and I can ensure they won’t make a bad one.   

Kitchen trends come and go. What elements make your kitchens timeless?  

Since we are using design elements of period pieces it is unlikely it will look dated in ten years.  We pay little attention to trends in that we are generally working in early American surroundings.  It is not at all difficult to make a good looking kitchen and not difficult to make a well functioning kitchen but it can be a challenge to do both.  Clients come to us because they want something better and something different.  There is usually an extensive design phase and it’s hard to put into words how I get there.  I use all manner of design clues from our furniture, the surrounding architecture and just things that I’ve seen.  I will say that I pay virtually no attention to trends.  I look at each space and client and think quite directly how to best make a kitchen that works for them.    

On Working with Hollywood

It’s so interesting that you’ve made furniture pieces for movies. Does designing and constructing movie set furniture differ in any way from residential pieces? 

We’ve always just made things the same.  They are far more demanding.  I suspect since most people will fall all over themselves to have something in a movie they don’t plan ahead real well.  We have made furniture for three feature films but we have turned down more than a couple because the want it right away.  We consider the movies a fun project more than business.  If they take the fun out of it we decline to which they are always surprised. 

On Wood Species

Tiger maple. It’s everywhere on your site. Absolutely beautiful and definitely unique. Can you tell me more about this species and what makes it so special. It really has such depth and translucency to it. Is tiger maple a wood your father started out using?   

Tiger Maple was used widely during the 18th century.  It was rarely used other than in musical instruments for 200 years until the bicentennial when people became more interested in the period.  My father started out as a Windsor chair maker.  We didn’t start using tiger until the mid to late 1980’s. 

Click here to learn more: http://www.tigermaplefurniture.com/

What other wood species do you enjoy working with?

We make furniture primarily out of pine, cherry, tiger maple and most recently oak.  Given we now make both custom furniture and cabinetry we work in all manner of species.  We’ve done some work in reclaimed oak which was a pleasure to work with.  We recently made a piece from reclaimed chestnut.  The piece was lovely but the wood was nasty to work with.  We have used mahogany under duress since I overwhelmingly prefer to use locally grown wood. 

On His Company’s Carbon Footprint

These days, there is increased interest in green business practices. How does D. R. Dimes & Co. integrate environmental sustainability and the business of making wood furniture?

We have always believed in being a steward of the land that we own.  The land on which we work and live is literally our environment and we are very careful to leave it in as good a condition or better than when we acquired it.  We invariably have a much longer view that most people or businesses since our furniture is designed and built to last hundreds of years.  We switched to water stains many years ago.  Our shavings are used and coveted by the local dairy farmer who claims he saves thousands of dollars on antibiotics which of course saves the people consuming it as well.  We burn our scrap for energy.  We don’t even put our furniture in boxes because of the wasted cardboard (trees).  The most important green concept is that our furniture will store carbon for hundreds of years.  It literally won’t be recycled, it will be used.  Consider that the wood used to make a piece of our furniture will grow back in five.

Using H Hinges

Today while at lunch I was busy trying to sketch a project that I was designing as a tall laundry room cupboard for my house when a fellow co-worker/woodworker stopped to take a look.

While we were talking about the piece, why I was designing it and what it would be used for, he made a comment that my project had a flush mounted door.  He then went on to tell me how he hated flush mounted doors because you have to chisel out the wood while installing the hinges.  He finished by telling me that the time wasn’t worth the effort in his eyes.

At that point I just kind of smiled and said I don’t do any of that.

 

At first he gave a quizitive look of “huh?” and then after a few seconds of letting what I said sink in, he said “please don’t tell me you just flush mount the butt hinges?”

That’s when I opened up my web browser and introduced him to “H” hinges.

 

His eyes lit up like a Christmas tree.  The look on his face was priceless.

So from there I went on to explain to him that I was introduced to the use of “H” hinges several years ago by a fellow woodworker as a way to do 2 things on a project:

  • To be able to install door hinges quickly and easily.
  • Also to add a little decoration to what might seem like a plain or dull looking project.

Ever since then I’ve always used “H” hinges on all of my flush door projects. I like the looks and ease of installation that I use them even if the piece is a reproduction or a commissioned piece.


As for installing them; well it couldn’t be easier!

  • First start off by laying your project on its back
  • Next place the door in the opening. (you may need to add some temporary supports)
  • Then using a rule, locate from the top and bottom of the door the location you want to place each hinge.
  • From here you want to pre-drill all of your pilot holes.
  • Dip the tips of your screws into a can of paste wax (used as a lubricant) and then install by hand.  (Make sure to just snug them lightly.  Anything else might cause the screw heads to snap off.)

In my eyes the ease of installation of the hardware, and look it gives a project, far outweigh not using them.