Just Hardware now

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. The case with all of its neat dovetails and a fixed divider between the drawer enclosure and the upper space was made, doors were hung, and the single drawer made and fitted. I’d thought consistently about hardware, door pulls, catches, bolts and such for some time; whether to go with hand-turned door knobs versus handmade handles rather than the symmetry round always brings and decided the harder route would best achieve the difference I wanted and at the same time tie the piece in with the oak and walnut chairs. Oak is one of the easy woods to work. It has no ecological issues, and it’s an ever-popular wood in all realms temperate. What I like in its predictable easiness of working is its unpredictable discrepancy of grain that makes always for difference and makes me look and think ahead at how to best work it. To work oak with hand tools takes a certain determination you don’t need with machines. In a recent post, I posted on a walnut board with obvious awkward grain structure built into its fibres and some clever bod took advantage (as such smart alecks do) and said, “Thank goodness for my spiral cutterhead!” Of course, arrogance always alienates and his assumption of privilege was that everyone can access such equipment readily if they just apply themselves as he had. In reality, it’s not possible for 98% of woodworkers around the world and for many different reasons. Me? I thought thank goodness for not having one nor the machine nor the dust extraction I’d need just to plane a piece of wood. Ease of working while presenting zero challenges is not what everyone wants and that is true of me. When I see a piece with awkward grain yet grain I want, I need to think about it strategically and exhaust every resource of skill and knowledge available to me. It’s a strange thing to think of woodworking as being different from running, climbing a rock face and other high-demand sports. I understand the speeding up process for those with highly limited time, or those with limited ability for whatever reason, but the thought that someone would ride the bus to point B when they were a runner to take the easier route is never considered, so why not choose the higher-demand woodworking methods that require challenges too?

I’ve looked forward to installing hardware to my case for a week since I finished the woodwork and applied the final coats of finish to make it sparkle. The search began and finding hardware to your exact requirements might mean seeing what you definitely don’t want which then lends itself to your finding what you all the more do. After a few dozen images of sliding bolts ranging from vintage to brand new, I found two that seemed to suit my eye and match what I had made. I felt that the securement of a fixed door should be present but not obvious yet not so much hidden. Something that blended in rather than protruding and quietly present when the door was opened. Face fixed is fine but rarely gives the subtlety I was looking for. Who would no such effort of thought would take so much but when I saw what I didn’t want `i found what I did. Where else other than eBay would I have found the perfect fit, what a match!

Quite enjoy the hunt for hardware, from the tiniest screws to handles, hinges and pulls. Whether new or old, on the same screen I can look at what is no longer made and find what can be adapted, or converted to suit my need. I have made many a hanger, or retainer plate from a brass door plate and it’s no different in this case where I made the catch and wear-resistant plates that were not with the original components. I enjoyed the filing and hacksawing, the bending and peening to make work what didn’t before. I suppose my maxim when my boys came to tell me of a problem when they were young came home in my answering the, “OK, I get it, now try to be a solution!” It really works.

I didn’t exactly see the whole in the sliding bolts before they arrived and I held them in my hands. Would they measure up to and match my wants, my expectations, exactly? I couldn’t help but admire the thought-through detail of each part. Strong and sturdy, its gilded outer belied its steel form within and I was pleasantly surprised with its apparent quality as being eminently fit for purpose. It’s always a pleasant feeling when and if that happens. I also knew that my purchase was unlikely to be a find I would come across easily again as it was more an old-new-stock supply for any future project need I might have. It’s like that sometimes. I returned to the site and found another three sets still available from the same seller and bought them knowing the need for some more cabinets I have planned.

Installing the bolts drew my thoughts to the designer, surmising that he would most likely no longer be alive and how often a designer can be outlived by what was made in accord with the design centuries beyond the designer’s life. Did I tell you that the designer of the Stanley folding knife I use every day in my work contacted me to say thanks for being so kind about his design? It’s such a clever knife and so very fit for purpose. I have used mine so much `i have worn all of the powder coating off mine and it made me wonder why they ever powder coated it in the first place.

Looking into the detail of the sliding bolt you can see that even though it was mass made for its time it still had a sense that a person was involved in the processes it took to bring it to market. The bolts slide well and smoothly and a special feature allows the closed bolt to catch fast once slid into the locked position. It’s designed to stop someone from sliding a knife between the door and the case and easing it up incrementally. The only way to slide the bolt out of lock is to open the adjacent door, press the button on the slider to disengage the catch and push the bolt into the open position. Then there is a tubular casing on the bolt that disallows hacksawing if a blade is slipped between the door and the case. The tubular casing would rotate with the hacksaw blade so that the teeth do not bite in to cut. At the very end of the bolt is a centre point remnant of the milling process serving as a spike to reference the centre of the needed hole that receives the bolt. Slipping the bolt up before the hole is bored simply marks the centre of the 9mm hole on the case to show the position to be bored.

Chopping out the recesses on the end grain of the stile and then along the long axis of the stile to house the case of the bolt is simply a question of chopping and paring down close to depth and then going in with the router to level the whole. On the end grain, the router doesn’t work too well so that’s a job for a sharp chisel alone. Withing those recesses comes deeper recessing for the mechanism. It took about fifteen minutes per bolt to do this work. I am sad that is unlikely that others will find these sliding bolts but they are definitely worth waiting for in my view.

Locks can be had and found readily on e Bay and I found a very nice version that was easy to fit. In this case, I wanted something face-fixed because to recess into the stile generally weakens the door. To set the position is a question of two or three measurements to establish the position of the lock centred around the keyhole position. The centre point distance between two holes, one larger one to take the barrel of the key and then a smaller one to take the bottom edge of the flat blade of it ready for chiseling out between the two holes. Sliding the key through the new keyhole into the lock, lining up the lock and setting the screw is all that remains to do. It’s a ten-minute job max.

Perhaps the shelf needs to be adjustable but it is doubtful. I could go either way. There again you could configure shelves with dividers differently to compartmentalize the different drink types if indeed it ends up as a drinks cabinet. A system of shelf installation intended for more commercial installations is one I have often used for single shelves and for hand tool installation.

I have used these Hafele spring shelf supports through the years, they work wonderfully well and are simple enough to install with only hand tools. Typically, though, you run the grooves in the ends of the shelves via the tablesaw with the blade having a 4mm kerf to fit the brackets. In my case, I chiseled and sawed the sides of the channel with a tenon saw and then chiseled out the recess with a 4mm chisel. It takesd only a few minutes. The bracket is completely hidden from view when done yet it can be removed quickly if and as needed. I wanted a couple of vertical dividers too as in my prototype will become a safe place to keep my journals and sketchbooks

9 thoughts on “Just Hardware now”

  1. I really like the darker wood strips in the doors. Some look like beading but the vertical ones look like they are clamped in to the door frame. Is there a name for this type of joinery?

    1. Nathan Muenks

      It looks like Paul simply glued a strip of walnut onto the oak boards then plowed the walnut to make the groove he needed to assemble the doors. I agree with you, it looks very spiffy.

  2. Kevin Fricault

    When planing a board from rough cut to level and twist free in the morning, in the basement, I started to realize how many passes it would take me to remove the chainsaw marks left from milling. After which the twist and cup would still have to be addressed. Then when I told my family what I had been doing while they were asleep, all said they never heard a thing.

  3. Dr. Christian Rapp

    Finding high quality hinges etc can be daunting. In my city there is indeed a small family run shop having still a lot on stock. But as the owner pointed out, there is not too much demand anymore.

    After some researching I was surprised and happy to find that there is a small Eastern German company making high quality hinges – Fridhelm Schumacher, Bau und Möbelbeschläge, in 47638 Straelen. I ordered from them for the dovetail box project. They were not cheap but resealable priced, significantly less than some of the other few left high quality options. I had some questions and all was dealt with excellently.


  4. Hello, I’m curious about the groove in the end of the shelf. Did you chop with a chisel, or use a plough plane? Or do you have another method altogether for end grain? Thanks.

    1. It’s a stopped groove. I chiseled out the first 2cm at the closed end and placed the nose of a push-stroke tenon saw in each side of the recess and sawed down either side to the 4mm lines. Then I chopped from the end into the groove. The whole thing takes about three minutes.

  5. Between the impressive grain of the doors and the contrasting border lamination this piece is absolutely stunning. Can’t wait to hopefully see this on masterclass.

      1. Lovely post. Could you please share a thought on your choice of the bracket for the shelf instead of a sliding dovetail? Thanks!

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