Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Towel Warmer Time!

This time of year seems to be a good time to buy towel warmers, it's probably due to the fact that the mornings are chilly. You step out of the shower and the tile is cold on your bare feet. Large quantities of hot chocolate and tea are consumed in an effort to keep ourselves warm as the weather turns cold. Towel warmers are a great gift idea as well as practical for everyday use. Most towel warmers use as much energy as a standard light bulb, they keep your towels toasty warm when you're ready to use them, they dry undergarments, and some even help keep a small room warm.

I will focus on three brands that we carry; Amba, Warmrails, and Wesaunard. The first brand I'll talk about is Warmrails.
Warmrails Towel Warmers
Warmrails is what I would call an economy towel warmer. They offer a good product for a good price. The average price for a Warmrails unit is around $160. Warmrails only offers electric units, some of them softwired (meaning they plug into a wall) and some of them are hardwired (they are wired directly into your electrical system.) Warmrails has a limited selection of styles and color choices and they are manufactured in China.

Wesaunard is what I would call the deluxe towel warmer. They are a custom made brand, when you order from them almost every item is hand made in the UK. They are made from solid brass and come come in about six color choices.
Wesanaurd Towel Warmers
Wesaunard also offers a big selection of size and style choices, as well as having the option to either electric hardware the units or getting a hydronic model. Hydronic means that the unit is hooked up to your radiant heating and water flows through it to heat it up and keep it warm.

The last brand that I'll talk about is Amba. Amba is the middle of the road priced brand. You get a great quality for a reasonable price.
Amba Towel Warmers
Amba tends to carry more modern styled warmers in polished & brushed stainless, as well as oil rubbed bronze & white. Amba's average price is about $500, but you get a number a style and size options. Amba products are made out of stainless steel in Italy, South Africa, and some parts from the US.

The important things to consider when purchasing a towel warmer are:
1. Size-you have to keep in mind the space you have and what you can fit.
2. Utilization-what will you be using your towel warmer for. Will you be using your warmer for keeping towels warm, drying clothes, or keeping a space warm.
3. Material and color choices-Solid Brass & Stainless Steel are better conductors of heat so you're more likely to get a more even heated surface with something made out of these materials. Unfortunately, with a material like Stainless Steel your finish choices are very limited.
4. Price-the bottom line is what can you afford. While there is a great variance in price from brand to brand, the basic functions of a towel warmer are all basically the same. In order for a towel warmer to be UL listed they all have to heat to a specific temperature and have the same core features.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cornucopia This is the time of year when we are all supposed to take the time to think about our loved ones, all the blessings we have in our lives, and everything that we are thankful for. From all of us here at Spokane Hardware and The Hardware Hut would like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and Thank You for all of your support.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hey November, What's New?

November is already shaping up to be a busy month for us here at the Hut. We've added quite a few unique pieces of hardware that I'm willing to bet you'd have a hard time finding someplace else.

Let's just say you need a door knocker in oil rubbed bronze, that's not so difficult but let's just say you need an oil rubbed bronze door knocker that says Mozart (because that just happens to be your last name....it could be) Well then, you've come to the right place. The Hardware Hut now offers three choices for engraved door knockers. The differences being; one is pretty large-8", one is a "normal" size, and the last is a "normal" size but with a door viewer built in.
Brass Accents Engraved Door Knocker

How about cabinet lock that can hold either a padlock or a combination lock. Yeah, cabinet locks are pretty common but if you've got a storage shed or a rental property with cabinets and you just want to use a combination lock as opposed to worrying about carrying a key then this is the right item for you. It's pretty neat, you just drill a 3/4" diameter hole through the cabinet and when the two front pieces are lined up for the padlock to go through the door will be locked. When you remove the padlock and rotate one of the front pieces about 45 degrees the cam inside the cabinet rotates as well and allows the door to open.
Padlock Cabinet Lock

Another really cool new item is the Warmrails Dual Position towel warmer. Not only is it a standard freestanding towel warmer where your towels are draped over the top of the unit but each panel folds down into what is essentially a heated towel shelf. You can fold both panels or just one or neither. Also, the top rail is heated on this model which in previous versions of this style it was not.
Warmrails Dual Position Towel Warmer

And, a little more on the mundane side of hardware but still cool are a couple of hardware pieces by Emtek. They've added an entry set called Apollo to round out their modern line of hardware. I really like this! Emtek has also come out with an affordable version of Mortise pocket door locks. You can get these dummy, passage, privacy, and keyed functions.
Emtek Apollo Entryset

Emtek Mortise Pocket Door Hardware

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

EPCO Stainless Steel Cabinet Hardware

Stainless steel is a material that is timeless; it's durable, versatile, as well as functional. Today's kitchens all seem to feature a stainless appliance or two. Stainless steel typically is used in a modern design setting but it can be used in a traditional room as well.

Epco Bar PullEPCO (Engineered Products Company) has the largest offering of stainless steel styles in cabinet hardware that we carry. They've embraced the idea that people love the stainless look but they also want choices. The Bar pull type of handle has traditionally been what people have ordered because, for a while that was the only design choice. If you choose the bar pull design, I have seen kitchens with one length on all of the doors and drawers and I have seen kitchens where multiple lengths are used that cover almost the entire length of the door or drawer. This offering still has largest number of size options available, ranging from a 5 1/2" to a 33 3/8".

Epco Arch PullEPCO's arch pull comes in five size offerings and tends to be used in either a minimalist setting or at the opposite end of the spectrum in a traditional setting. The arch design seems to be a softer look than a straight pull does.

Epco Square Pull Square, angular shapes have also become increasing popular. The square designs are pretty much exclusive to a modern design but because they are so simple they could pass on a neat piece of furniture of a built in that wouldn't typically be considered modern. EPCO's square design comes in five different lengths as well, ranging from 5 3/8" to 14 3/16". Because these are offered in larger sizes and with the square design they definitely give the impression of being heavy duty.

EPCO offers another four Stainless Steel style choices that are shown below. They've got another style that is a combination of round bar with square posts for those of you that can't decide which look you want to go with. Whether it's round or square or both that you choose, Stainless Steel is a great choice for cabinet hardware. The material itself will last practically forever.

EPCO Stainless Steel Hardware

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Schlage's New Deadbolt

Schlage has introduced a new deadbolt this year to take the place of their B360 & B362 model. It is now the B60 or B62. The B60 is the single cylinder version and the B62 is the double cylinder version. The difference between the two is that the single cylinder has a key on the outside and a thumbturn on the inside, the double cylinder has a key at both sides.

The reason for the change over is that they have improved the deadbolt. The first difference from the old style to the new is that is looks slightly more decorative. As seen below, the B360 was very simple with no decoration. The new B60 has an extra "lip" around the base for added decoration.
Schlage Deadbolts

Another difference is that it can be easily installed by one person, Schlage has designed the new deadbolt with an internal lip that holds the exterior piece onto the door while you are screwing on the inside half.
On the new deadbolt, Schlage has also upgraded the latchbolt that comes with to a grade 1 commercial latch. The diameter of the latchbolt changed from 3/4" to 1". The new B60-B62 can now fit into either a 1 1/2" or a 2 1/8" diameter face hole as well. And, as always Schlage offers a lifetime finish and mechanical warranty.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hey October, What's New?

I can't believe it's fall already, where does the time go? It's starting to get gloomy and cold, it's dark when we come to work and dark when we leave. Next thing you know, it'll be snowing. Towel warmers are perfect for this time of year. I've never really given towel warmers much thought before I started working here. They seem like such a frivolous item, but now that I've seen them in use I can't believe everyone doesn't own one. A warm towel or robe right after your shower when it's 30 degrees outside is one of the best feelings! Not only are they great for warming up your items, but they're good dryers for small items. If you've got children, and they've got wet socks or mittens from playing in the snow you can lay them on the warmer and they'll dry. Items that can't go in the dryer such as undergarments can dry on the warmers. Some models even help heat up a room. Amba has come out with some new styles that I just love. They're not your traditional bar type so they've got a modern look.
Amba Towel Warmers

We've also added an Oil Rubbed Bronze curved shower rod by Taymor, we've carried the satin nickel and chrome version for some time and it seems to be a fairly popular item. These are great because it gives you a little more room inside the shower without touching the curtain. You see these a lot in hotels.
Oil Rubbed Curved Shower Rod

Deltana makes a number of different door stops in pretty much every finish that's made. We added a new style to their line. This floor mounted type is easy to install, it's relatively discreet, and it comes in a variety of colors to match all types of decor.
Deltana Door Stops

As I've mentioned in a few previous posts, we've been adding items from our print catalog to our online catalog, this month we've added a ton to our Pemko selection of door shoes, door bottoms, and weatherstripping.

The last item I'll talk about is the Grass Unisoft door bumper. These are a great way to customize/upgrade your existing cabinets. They allow the door to slowly close and not slam shut. They are universal in the sense that you can use them on both a framed and frameless cabinet and the tension is adjustable so it will work on almost any cabinet door.
Mepla/Grass Unisoft

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Restocking Fees, What?

Erica Monday MorningIt's Monday morning and the phones are ringing like crazy, and I'm typing away like a mad woman (I'm pretty sure I can see my fingertips smoking) and then the call comes in. A customer wants to return their order because the finish didn't quite match everything else. I don't mind doing a return on product sometimes it's just not right, but with returns comes restocking fees and that's not always the most pleasant call to take. I'd like to shed some light as to what restocking fees are and why they're charged.

When an order is placed; a person has to manually process the order, the order is sent to the warehouse-someone pulls the order and makes sure it is correct, a different person packs does a double check to make sure it's correct and ships the order to the customer, then the order goes to accounting and gets charged. When an order needs to be returned this process is almost exactly the same just in reverse. Except, someone has to inspect every piece and make sure it's in perfect resalable condition when it comes back. In most cases a return is made to a manufacturer since that it where it is shipped from and they will forward us a copy of the credit memo so that we can issue credit to your card. This process takes a lot of manpower and time to complete.

There are some manufacturers that literally stock hundreds of the same item and the process is fairly simple, but there are a good number of manufacturers that offer one product but with a number of different configurations. When an order is placed with these manufacturers you are essentially getting a custom piece of hardware. These items are assembled to your specifications and if they are returned they need to be disassembled. There are also companies that sell specialized, niche hardware (let's just say a pine cone knob in antique brass) now, this is something that's not going to fit into everyone's home decor like a round satin nickel knob would. Naturally, the stock availability will be much lower on these and when a few sell the manufacturer replenishes their stock. If that item were to come back to them, they would be "overstocked."

I don't like having to enforce these policies, but I can at least understand whey they are charged. There are a few manufacturers that do not charge a restocking fee, but these are a very small number. I do think that restocking fees are a necessary part of doing any kind of business. So, what type of restocking fees am I talking about exactly?

Our policy on The Hardware Hut is that if the item is something that is stocked here in our warehouse and it is perfect when we receive it (original packaging, no scratches, dents, other signs of use) then we will not assess a restocking fee(there are a couple of exceptions). The majority of items on our site are shipped directly from manufacturers and we have to enforce their restocking policy. The polices are displayed via link on every single product on our site. These restocking fee policies vary anywhere from 5% to 35% depending on the manufacturer. Just to give you an idea of where we are on the spectrum of internet hardware retailers, I have scoured all of our major competitors websites and looked at their policies. Here is a sampling of what is out there:

"Samples cannot be returned-25% restocking fee on all items. No returns on special order items."
"Return must be over $60.00"
"Refund of store credit valid for 6 months-25% restocking fee."
"No returns on opened packages-if shipping was free at the time of purchase, credit will be issued after restocking fees and the original shipping expense is assessed."
"Stock items 15%, non stock items 25%-30%"

One site has a 20%-40% and most sites have a flat 25% restocking fee on all items(with a few exceptions). There were also three sites that I could not locate their return policy at all (and I think I'm pretty internet savvy.)

After looking through these other sites, I'd have to say we're right in line with the rest of the industry. As a consumer myself, I'm always comparison shopping on what my best value is and what my repercussions are if it doesn't work out. I think a lot of sites try to conceal what there policies are, but I feel it's so much easier on everyone if it's all out in the open. Not only are our policies displayed on each item, but there is a link in the shopping cart, and there is a ton of helpful information in our FAQ section. With that, I hope you've become better educated consumers. That way there are no surprises, regardless of where you shop online. If you have any questions or need clarification feel free to contact me.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Moooove On Over & Make Room For Leather

Leather hardware has become fairly popular in recent years. When I think of leather, I think of Western or Northwestern styles. Leather is typically seen in log homes, or rustic type settings, but lately we've seen a trend in contemporary homes that feature leather hardware.

For the past few years out manufacturers with leather offerings was limited to one or two, mainly a British company called Turnstyle Designs. It seems, Europeans do tend to be ahead of the curve on trends. Turnsyle Designs is well known for their exceptional quality and craftsmanship. All of their leather products are hand stitched, and depending on the collection have reinforced steel sewn into the leather. Turnstyle offers leather cabinet hardware and leather bath hardware.

Atlas Homewares is a brand that is new in our line up, we've been carrying them for about two years now and have had great success with their line. Atlas is well known for their product offering, they've created a versitile line of hardware with something for just about anyone. Atlas makes leather cabinet pulls in a traditional style, modern, and what I'll call sassy. They also make leather bath hardware and they also make leather switchplates.

Recently, Emtek has come out with door levers that are wrapped in leather. These levers tend to be more along modern design elements, but in the right finish and setting they'd go pretty well in any room.

I like the way the leather looks because it adds a soft element to the cold look of the metal. My personal tastes lean toward a modern/contemporary design and the leather is an added element to mix styles. These designs definitely can't be called boring.

Leather Hardware

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Hey September, What's New?

Lewis Dolin Bin PullI can't believe it's September already! This month at the Hut we've added a couple of new items, but mostly rounded out collections that already exist. We've made additions to cabinet hardware collections like Lewis Dolin's glass series. Lewis Dolin offers glass knobs and cup pulls with metal bases, and he's come out with a clear glass and polished chrome base. A classic look.

We've also added a number of finishes to the Cliffside cabinet latches. These little gems are quite popular, and with pretty much every finish available you're bound to find one that matches your hardware. This month we added the Venetian Bronze, Iron, and Antique Brass to the IBCL model and for the SBCL model we've added Venetian Bronze, Antique Copper, Iron, Antique Brass, and Polished Nickel.
Antique Copper Latch

Iron Cabinet Latch

We do sell quite a few of the closet rods in both round an oval but there aren't very many center support options. Engineered Products Company (EPCO) has come out with a center support/shelf bracket combination in both stainless steel and oil rubbed bronze.
Center Supports

The last thing I want to talk about today is a pull from First Impressions They call this the "Germ Free" pull, I like the sound of that. This pull is perfect for a public restroom application. Whenever I have to touch a door handle after washing my hands, I have to use a paper towel or try to get the door open without actually gripping the handle. What a pain! The nice thing about the hands free pull from First Impressions is that you can fit your arm behind the handle so that your hands are still germ free. An added bonus, this pull is ADA compliant.
Hands Free Pull

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cabinet Locks

Cabinet or drawer locks come in all different sizes and applications. Some are used on filing cabinets, gun cabinets, liquor cabinets, or desk drawers. The most common questions that I get asked are; "What size do I need for my application, and Can I get them keyed alike?" I will go over all the basic points of cabinet locks in this post. First, what types are there? Cabinet locks come in either a disc tumbler or a pin tumbler. The term tumbler is interchangeable with the term cylinder. See the anatomy listed below:
Cabinet Lock Anatomy

A disc tumbler works by discs inside the cylinder that rotate back and fourth to lock and unlock. A pin tumbler has spring loaded pins that drop down into place when it's locked and unlocked. A pin tumbler works the same way a door lock that would be on your front door works.

Pin Tumbler LockDisc Tumbler

Next would be the types of application, we carry the disc tumblers which is by far the most popular. These would go on doors or drawers for filing cabinets, liquor cabinets, built-ins, etc.. the "everyday use" cabinet. The pin tumblers would be used in similar applications but with a little more security. Another type would be a plunger lock, these come in both disc and pin options. The plunger locks are used on sliding doors or on the side of a filing cabinet. You can press the front of the lock in and it will push a small "button" into the strike. When someone tries to pull the drawer out or slide the door over the "button" will not allow the door or drawer to move. When you unlock it with a key, the "button" retracts into the lock and allows clearance for the door or drawer to move.
Plunger Lock

A drawer lock comes in either a dead latching (works just like a deadbolt on your front door) or spring latch (works just like a door knob on your bedroom or bathroom.) A drawer lock is specifically made to latch up into the frame of the cabinetry when the drawer is closed.
Plunger Lock

And, the last application that we have is a combination lock. You can either use the combination or the key override for locking and unlocking the cabinets. These would be great in a school, church, gym, or any other public setting where you have multiple people using common areas.
Combination Cam Lock

So, can you get the locks keyed alike? Yes, all of the cabinet and drawer locks that we carry either come keyed alike or keyed different right from the manufacturer. If you want six locks keyed alike then all you have to do is order the one that has the KA in the part number and when you get them they will all use the same key. If there is a KD in the part number then all of the locks will use different keys. We stock two different key numbers from National Cabinet Lock, our numbers are 413A and 415A. National Cabinet Lock's part numbers look like this C8053-14A-KA413A. The first set of five digits are the specific model of lock, the second set of digits is the color of the lock. 14A is Nickel, 3 is bright brass, and 4G is antique brass. The last set of digits will be the keying of the lock. KA413A will be keyed alike with the number 413A, KA415A will be keyed alike with the number 415A, KD will be keyed different, and KDMK will be keyed different and master keyed.

Last would be the dimensions. On our site we list the overall length of the lock in the first line of the description, in the product specifications it will tell you the maximum material thickness. For example: The NCL-C8060 is 1 3/4" long but will only accommodate a material thickness of 1-7/16". This can work in a number of ways, if you have a door that is 3/4" thick and sits on a frame that is 3/4" thick this lock will work with the straight cam that comes with. If you have a door that is flush with your frame and your door is 1-3/4" thick, you will need this lock plus you will use the offset cam (the bent one.) The bend in the cam that comes with the locks is 1/4" so when you add the 1-7/16" thick and the extra 1/4" you're right at 1-3/4".

For the most part, the National Cabinet Locks that we carry will come with the straight and the bent cam inside the package. We do also carry additional cams to accommodate different applications.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ironing Center Sale!

Ironing centers are another item that have become popular. If you ask me, I don't really see why. But, this is coming from the girl who's ironed about a whole five times in her life. If I did iron, I'd definiately want one of these. On some of the models you can store your iron and starch (do you even use that anymore?) and the best feature is that you don't have to store a big ole ironing board under your bed or in your closet or wherever you typically hide that thing. These are always in the same spot and easily hidden.

Most of the models have to be recessed into the wall, which is a great feature because they don't stick out very far at all. And, for the less construction savy person there's even a surface mounted model.
The ironing centers come with an array of features, sort of like a car. You've got the base model let's say a Dodge Neon which is basically an ironing board, and a built in hanger. At the top of the line there's a model that has a built in light, an electrical outlet, a larger board that swivels, all the bells & whistles sort of like a Cadiallac Escalade.
Electric Ironing CenterNon-Electric Ironing Center

All of the ironing centers that we carry in stock are hinged on the right side, but we can special order them left handed or the hinge is easy to change on site. The doors are made out of an unfinished birch veneer so you can stain it or paint it the same color as your wall. I know, they're starting to sound pretty appealing aren't they? Heck, I might even get one and take up ironing. But, the best part about these is that right now through the end of September they're on Sale. Yep, it just doesn't get any better than that. Who doesn't love a sale?!
Iron A Way Sale

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

What's In Your Closet?

Have any of you watched "MTV Cribs?" No. How about "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous?" Probably. These types of shows always intrigue me, because you get a peek into all the wonderful, crazy gadgets that are available in the world that one might not own unless they've got money to spend and nothing to spend it on. Aside from the 17 different cars in the garage, all of the houses shown have a common feature. They've usually got a humongous closet (or two.) Not only are the closets about the size of my entire house, but they've got "mad features," as they say. There's all kinds of organized storage; pull out shelves, shoe racks, pull down closet rods, jewelry drawers, towel warmers.... you name it. Of course we can't all have a closet like this, but for there's a lot a really neat items to make your closet feel like it's fit for "Cribs."

There are two color choices for most closet hardware that's available now, Chrome and Oil Rubbed Bronze. The oil rubbed bronze is a newer finish in these items, but because it has become so popular in homes today it's been added to most product lines. The one word of caution I'll make to anyone interested in Oil Rubbed Bronze closet rods is that metal hangers tend to sratch the surface of the rod. On a Chrome rod the scratching is barely noticable, but on an Oil Rubbed Bronze rod it will be something that you'll notice.

The run-of-the-mill items such as closet rods and ends come in both Chrome and Oil Rubbed Bronze, and they come in round or oval. As far as I can tell the only advantage to having the oval over the round is that there is less friction from the hangers on the oval rod. Other than that, it's mostly aesthetic.
Oval Chrome Closet Rod

Round Oil Rubbed Closet Rod

Round Chrome Closet Rod

Oval Oil Rubbed Closet Rod

Now for the fun stuff, we carry a company called Rev-A-Shelf and they specialize in home organization. Some of the items I'm going to talk about are new for them, so they're not uploaded to our site yet but I think they're worth mentioning.

Rev-A-Shelf makes a number of items that are extendable or pull out's, these come in various baskets, tie & belt holders, extendable hangers, and pants racks. The beauty of these is that they can be used for storage and then, pull out for easy access of the items you need.
Here are a couple of tie/belt organizers. These are universal, you can hang either ties, belts, or scarves from any of these.
Oil Rubbed Closet Pull Out

Chrome Closet Pull Out

They also make valet rods, or extendable hangers. They take up very little space inside the cabinet, but if you need to hang your clothes while your getting ready, or packing, the rod can be "whipped out" and voila you've got a ready made closet rod.

Oil Rubbed Closet Pull Out

Chrome Closet Pull Out

Pull out pants racks have been pretty big sellers for us as well, to me this is a little crazy but in all fairness this is coming from the girl who has used an iron a whole five times in her life. The pants racks can be used for dress slacks, jeans, or even skirts. The first type below is simply a pull out model for easy access. The second is a pivoting pants rack. It mounts to either the left or the right cabinet wall and then pivots front to back for access.

Chrome Pants Pull Out

Oil Rubbed Pants Pull Out

And, you've got items like pull out hampers that can be stored inside the cabinets, and wall mounted ironing centers, and also towel warmers if your closet is big enough to change in.

The last cool thing I want to talk about is a pull down closet rod. These are really cool for those of us with limited closet space. You can mount these up high where you normally wouldn't be able to reach and then pull down with the provided bar, it brings the entire closet rod down to about shoulder height. That way you can have two tiers of closet rods as opposed to one.

Pull Down Closet Rod

Regardless, whether your closet is small or huge there are some really neat space saving products to help organize and customize your space. You can turn your space into something that's envied. Think, Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous!

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