Wednesday, May 27, 2009

You've Got The Power

What's the next best thing since sliced bread? Airplanes you say, Velcro, Lipstick…..Nope. The "Power Search" feature on The Hardware Hut . This is one of my favorite tools on our site, and I think it's under utilized.

I'm going to give you a brief tutorial on how it works, because it really is pretty cool. We have the Power Search on most of our categories, especially the ones that have a lot of options but for the sake of example I'm going to focus on the search for cabinet knobs and pulls.

In the knobs and pulls category your search options are: Color/Finish, Manufacturer, Material, Hole Spacing, Diameter, Overall Length, Style, Type, and Collection. You don't typically want to use every search field because you could eliminate too much and get zero results. I tend to use the Color, Hole Spacing, and Type the most.

Basically, the power search is what I like to call a "process of elimination" search. If you're looking for a Satin Nickel Pull on you'd have to sort through 636 pulls. But, (here's the cool part) if you know that you have an odd size like 2 1/2in. hole spacing, you can use the Power Search and eliminate everything but those. You would choose Color/Finish, Hole Spacing, and Type in the search criteria. Ta Dah! You now have 12 options to choose from.

If you aren't sure what size you want to go with but know that you are only interested in oil rubbed bronze items you can use the Power Search to eliminate everything but oil rubbed bronze. You just have to choose the Color/Finish and leave everything else blank. Now you have 903 knobs and pulls to look through instead of all 14,000.

Here's a screen shot of the power search page for cabinet knobs and pulls on our site, so you get an idea of what you're looking at.
Power Search Screen

So now that you've got the power….go ahead and use it! Search away, have fun…there's a lot of stuff you could be missing out on.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Pocket Doors Galore

When choosing pocket door hardware there are a couple of things you should keep in mind. 1. Do you want the door to lock or be non-locking. 2. Do you have a single door or double doors?

I'll start with single doors; for non locking doors you have two choices to go with. The "all in one" unit such as this model by Deltana

Passage Pocket Door Unit
this is great for homeowners because of its easy installation. This unit comes as one piece and has an edge pull built into it. Another option to go with is two flush pulls and an edge pull separately. This option is great because you can choose from various styles and sizes for a customized look. Here are some examples of flush pulls and an edge pull:

Round Flush PullDecorative Flush PullEdge Pull

On privacy or locking doors the "all in one" unit is an option as well, the difference from the passage version is that there is a turn knob on the inside of the unit and it comes with a strike plate for the jamb side of the door. This is typically used in a bathroom or sometimes a bedroom. An addition to the flush pull option above, for locking doors is the Ives 42B which would be mounted on the interior face of the door. When the button is pressed, the door cannot go back into the jamb while it's locked. Check out the 42b in action at:

Lastly, double doors…..Ah, if there were only more options to this scenario. Unfortunately, for double doors your options are limited. If you want the two doors to latch together in the middle of the opening, your choice would be the converging kit by Gruppo Romi while these locks are pricey, they are worth every penny. Included in this set you get four flush pulls a mortised lock body and two edge pulls that are built in. The Gruppo Romi double door set is heavy duty, solid brass construction, and it's a completely custom look. Here's what you'd be getting with a double door kit:
Converging Pocket Door Kit

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Give Your Home A Face Lift

Curb Appeal is very important when it comes to your home, it's really the first impression that someone gets, whether they are coming to your house or driving by they make a judgment based on the way your house looks. Heck, curb appeal is important enough that HGTV has a whole show dedicated to it.

A fairly inexpensive way to spruce up your entry and give the outside of your house a whole new look is to change your entry hardware. For roughly $300-$500 you can literally change the entire feel of your entry way. Most entrances to homes have these items that can be easily changed. 1. An Entry Handle. 2. Door Hinges. 3. Door Knocker or Door Bell. 4. House Numbers. 5. A Mailbox or Mail Slot. Of course you don't have to have a knocker and a doorbell on the same entry and some of us have a mailbox that is on the street rather than attached to the house. With the pictures below you can at least get an idea of what items can be pulled together to get a specific look and feel.

Satin Nickel with a Modernized Retro feel:
Modern Satin Nickel Hardware

This look has become pretty popular and looks great on mid century homes and contemporary homes with angular shapes. A slight variation on this set would be to get similar items in the polished chrome finish.

Polished Brass with a Traditional flair:
Traditional Brass Hardware

The nice thing about a traditional style is that it fits a number of different home styles and you can make it as "fancy" as you want by adding more items with swirl and leaf motifs rather than something with a plain surface. Polished brass tends to be the most common finish on a traditional style but you could always get the same look in a more subdued finish like antique brass.

Oil Rubbed Bronze with an Old World charm:
Old World Oil Rubbed Hardware

Old world is a pretty general term, but it seems to have common themes such as rich dark tones like oil rubbed bronze or a bronze patina. Fixtures tend to be more chunky and substantial. Old world styles fit on houses with stone facings, and natural elements. The style fits on houses that are similar to Spanish and Colonial Revival eras.

Rustic Black with a Craftsman feel:
Rustic Black Hardware

A lot of people mistake mission style for craftsmen style. Mission is more clean straight lines, and craftsmen style is more of a general term for being of quality and "handmade." The picture above is of a combination of hand forged hardware and items that aren't necessarily handmade but are rustic because of the texture and natural appearance.

Even at $300 that can be kind of steep to shell out at once, the nice thing is you can buy pieces that compliment each other one piece at a time so that it doesn't break the bank. Adding new hardware to your entryway gives your home an updated look that's a great investment in the long run.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Can I Have A Standard Car Please?

A standard car, what's that? There's no such thing as a standard car, they're all different.
Welcome to hardware 101. The term standard should almost be obsolete in the hardware world because there are very few things that are standard in the industry.

I'm going to discuss door hardware and the options that are available so when you're ready to order you'll be armed with information. On a door there are typically hinges and a lock of some sort. "How many options could there be?" you say, on door hinges for a typical home you have to choose which finish you want, what size you want, and what type of corner you need.

Finishes are pretty easy to figure out, but for the corners you have 3 choices. The self explanatory choice would be square corner, the second choice is a 1/4in. radius, and the last choice is a 5/8in. radius. Here is a drawing that depicts all three options. Radius Diagram

Also, a quick easy way to determine your radius is to hold up a dime and a quarter to the corner and see which one fits the best. Hinge Radius

On the door locks, it gets a little more complicated. You have to choose which function you need. The different functions for interior doors are Privacy (there is a push button on the inside of the door that allows you to lock it,) Passage (the knob or lever turns but does not lock,) and a Dummy (the knob or lever does not move at all, and it gets screwed onto the face of the door.) Not only do you have to choose the function, but on the locks that move you have to choose the backset. A backset is the measurement of the distance from the edge of your door to the center of the bore hole that your knob or lever goes into. The most common backsets in the US are either 2-3/8in. or 2-3/4in. Here is a diagram to show you where to measure. Door Backset

For exterior doors the functions are a Keyed knob or lever (there is a key built into the knob or lever and a push/turn button on the inside,) a Single Cylinder Deadbolt (a key on the outside and a turn knob in the inside,) and a Double Cylinder Deadbolt (a key on both the outside and the inside.)

Another option that you will need to know would be the door handing, the easiest way to determine handing is to stand on the outside of the door and look at the hinges. The key is to always be on the outside, if the hinges are on the Right you would order a right hand lock and if the hinges are on the Left you would order a left hand lock. This honestly is the easiest way to figure it out. Many people use different methods, and tell you that the direction the door swings matters but I think it only makes it more complicated.

Last would be door thickness. A "standard" door- scratch that, a "typical" residential door is either 1-3/8in. or 1-3/4in. thick. All residential locks come equipped to fit either of those sizes. Occasionally, you'll have an entry door that will be thicker and some manufacturers make a thick door kit to accommodate those.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Mission: Organization!

Kitchen Organizers are a great way to maximize the space in your kitchen. Your kitchen is the one room in your house where organization is critical. In some cases, it takes more time to dig through drawers and cupboards to find all of the utensils and supplies that you need for your meal than it does to actually cook the meal. If you could save, say 15 minutes a day, what would you do with that time? I think I'd use it for a cat nap. My point, I bet with a completely functional kitchen you could save at least 15 minutes a day just by not searching for stuff.

So, what kind of organization am I talking about? Since an effective kitchen utilizes the "Work Triangle", I'll focus on each station. A work triangle is basically the three major areas that are used (the sink, the stove/range, and the refrigerator) most kitchens have what is essentially a triangle shape where these are placed.

The Sink area: I don't know a single person that likes to have their sponge out on display. For this there are Sink Front Tip Out Trays. These are great because they use the space right below your countertop in front of the sink where most people have "fake drawers." Why not take that tiny space and use it up. I have two in my kitchen, one is for my sponges and the other is for a bottle brush and for my jewelry when I'm washing the dishes. These are an inexpensive way to move some items off the counter and out of sight. Also, for the under the sink there's usually pipes or a garbage disposal down there, and that doesn't leave a lot of room for anything with height. There is a really cool product that's specifically made to go in this space.
Pull Out Basket!

This is nice because you've got the larger basket on the bottom to hold some of the cleaners, and bottles and the smaller basket on top that goes around the pipes that can hold extra sponges and smaller cleaners.

The Stove area: There are a ton of really great products such as Spice Racks that can be mounted to the back of your doors so that they're all in view and you don't have to dig in the back of the cupboard to find the one you need. There are also a number of different types of pull out baskets for you lower cabinets. These come in chrome, or white, and even wood and they're available in a variety of different sizes to fit different cabinet dimensions. This one is one of my personal favorites:
Pull Out Basket!

It's a double basket that you can store your pots, pans, lids or what ever you want in. Both baskets pull completely out of the cabinet so you have access to everything without having to un-stack or dig around in the back of the cabinet. In most cabinets, you've either got a bunch of stuff stacked on the bottom or one shelf that runs through the middle of the cabinet. I've been on my knees more than once in my kitchen trying to dig a lid out from the back of the top shelf. Not anymore! Both of the baskets on this unit work independently of each other too. One last product for the stove area is a pull down shelving system.

This is what I like to call the "Shorty Shelf." For those of us who are vertically challenged, this is another way to maximize space that just doesn't get used very much. This is made to go into upper cabinets that are just too hard to reach unless you're a pro basketballer or you use a step stool. These spaces usually end up getting filled with stuff that doesn't get used very often. This leaves all your other cabinet space cramped with the stuff that you do use a lot. The general idea of the pull down shelf is that it's mounted inside the cabinet, and when you pull down on the bar at the bottom it actually pulls out and down at the same time, bringing items down to eye level.
Pull Down Basket!

The Refrigerator area: Since I don't know exactly how your kitchen is configured and what type of cabinets are around your refrigerator I can't really say for sure that these products will be good for this area in your kitchen. In my kitchen I have a single cabinet next to my fridge and that's where my Pull Out Waste Container is. These are some of the best products and are not used enough. I think every kitchen in the world should have one of these. Who wants an ugly garbage can in the corner of their room? I'd like to meet the person that says "yes" to that. What's great about pull out waste containers is that they come in a bunch of sizes to fit almost any cabinet. They come with two containers or one, with or without lids, door mountable or not, and you can even get multi colored bins for recycling. There's no reason Not to have one of these.
There are still a ton of other organizers that you could put in your kitchen to make it much more effective. Hidden Towel Holders, Lazy Susans, Mixer Lifts, Pantry Systems, and Silverware & Cutlery Organizers for your drawers. I'm pretty sure we've got a product for every nook and cranny in a kitchen. So the next time you're digging around for your favorite chopping knife or you threw away that pop can because you didn't want to walk out to the recycle bin you might want to think about getting organized.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Oil Rubbed Bronze

Oil Rubbed Bronze and I have a love/hate relationship. Let me explain…..
I love the look of Oil Rubbed Bronze. When put in the right setting it can give a room an old world feel. Oil Rubbed Bronze brings warmth and elegance to almost any d├ęcor; it's supposed to be reminiscent of early era hardware that has aged naturally over time.

Here's where my hate comes into play…….
Oil Rubbed Bronze is made differently from manufacturer to manufacturer, it varies depending on what base material it's put on, and it can even be different from piece to piece within a collection. So, when a homeowner wants to do their entire house in Oil Rubbed Bronze I'm prepared with my "Oil Rubbed Bronze speech."

Here is one manufacturer's description of what Oil Rubbed Bronze is supposed to be: "The Oil Rubbed Bronze finish is a chemically darkened surface designed to simulate aged bronze. This finish is very dark and varies from a deep chocolate brown to a dark gray and usually has copper undertones. There is quite a variety of interpretations of this finish in the hardware industry and all oil rubbed bronze finishes do not match."
Basically; there are two types of Oil Rubbed Bronze, the first being a "living" finish. This pretty much means that over time your hardware will change. An Oil Rubbed Bronze that is "living" is a base material of some sort (typically brass) that's been plated in copper (think of a new penny) and then a dark oil solution has been rubbed over that to darken it. Now, over time that dark oil is supposed to rub off with everyday use leaving behind the copper and even some brass showing through. (Think of an older penny.)

The second type of Oil Rubbed Bronze is a "non-living" finish; this of course is the exact opposite of the living version. In most cases, the Copper is plated over a Steel or Brass base material and another brown finish is plated over that. A lot of manufacturers will pre-rub the brown in spots so that you see the copper, some manufacturers will only plate the item in the brown and not rub at all so that you see only a solid brown color. On a "non-living" Oil Rubbed Bronze a lacquer coating is applied so that the color will not change over time.
Because so many manufacturers make this color in many different ways, it's virtually impossible to get the finishes to be uniform for an entire house. Think about trying to get towel bars, switchplates, door locks, cabinet knobs and pulls, and door hinges all throughout the house to be identical…..crazy, I know!

My whole point to this is that the beauty of Oil Rubbed Bronze is that it's not identical, and variations are good. So, when choosing your Oil Rubbed Bronze hardware; embrace the variations. It's what gives this color Life!

This picture shows 5 different examples of Oil Rubbed Bronze.
Oil Rubbed Bronze Knobs

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Not All Cabinet Hinges Were Created Equal-Part 2

We've covered the anatomy of a hinge, and the way cabinet hinges mount so now it's time to cover the different hinge applications. I've saved this for the end because it does tend to be a bit hard to understand. But rest assured, you're on your way to being a cabinet hinge aficionado!

One type of hinge application is an Overlay; basically an overlay means your door overlays (or overlaps) your cabinet frame. An overlay hinge can be either face mount or partial wrap. The most common sizes for partial wrap overlay hinges are either 1/2in. or 1/4in.. As an example a 1/2in. overlay hinge would mean that your door is overlapping your frame by 1/2in..

The first picture below is a 1/2in. overlay and the second picture is a 1/4in. overlay both are partial wrap hinges.
1/4in. Overlay Hinge1/2in. Overlay Hinge

Another type of overlay is a Variable Overlay, these only come in a face mount. These are called Variable Overlay because your door does not have to overlap your frame by a set dimension (such as 1/2in. or 1/4in..) Variable overlays come in a variety of sizes, colors and finishes. Below is a Variable overlay, face mount hinge.
Variable Overlay Hinge

The first type of an inset hinge I'll cover is a Full Inset, as I mentioned in the last post, this means that your door sits fully inside your frame so that the door is flush with the frame. Full inset hinges come in either a hidden mount, where the hinge is mounted on the inside edge of the door and the inside edge of the cabinet frame (similar to a butt hinge on a full size door) or surface mounted on the outside of the door and frame (these are sometimes called ‘H' hinges.) The first picture below is a surface mount full inset hinge and the second is of a full inset hinge (butt type.)
Flush Full Inset HingeFlush Full Inset Hinge

Another type of Inset hinge is what we call a 3/8in. inset, this type comes in either a face mount or a partial wrap. A 3/8in. inset means that your door overlaps your frame by 3/8in. and sits down into the frame by 3/8in. on a 3/4in. door. If you were to remove one of your cabinet doors you would see a notch on the back edge that runs the length of the door. This notch measures 3/8in.x 3/8in., and the hinge has a corresponding "stair step" on the door wing to rest in the notch. Below is an example of a 3/8in. inset face mount and a partial wrap.
3/8in. Partial Wrap Hinge3/8in. Surface Mount Hinge

A Reverse Bevel hinge functions the same way a variable overlay hinge does. Your door will be overlaying your frame by a varying dimension, but a reverse bevel hinge mounts to a door that does not have a flat back edge. The back edge of your door will be beveled; the most common size is a 30 degree bevel. The picture below shows a 30 degree reverse bevel, take note of the diagram that shows the edge of the door at an angle.
Reverse Bevel Hinge

There are two types of demountable hinges, the first being a Single Demountable. Demountable means that a hinge is mounted to the door without screws, so that the door can be easily "demounted" without having to take out all of the screws. A demountable hinge has a metal piece that is attached to the plate where the screw holes are on a typical hinge. On a Single Demountable hinge, the metal plate would be on the door wing only, this metal plate lines up with a hole that has routed into the back edge of the door. On the frame wing, there are typically one or two screw holes. On a Double Demountable hinge, the metal plate would be on the door wing and the frame wing of the hinge.

Demountable hinges come in almost every application, you can have a double or single demountable hinge that could also be an overlay, or an inset, or even a reverse bevel depending on how your door is mounted. Demountable hinges are typically not used in brand new construction, in most cases a demountable hinge would be as replacements. Initially, demountable hinges were used by cabinet makers because they are easy to install. It's much more efficient to use a machine to route out the holes and press the hinges in, rather than screwing in 5 screws per hinge.

Below are examples of a Single Demountable (left) and Double Demountable (right.)
Double Demountable HingeSingle Demountable Hinge

On an offset hinge, your door is "offsetting" your frame. The most common size of offset is 3/8in., this application is very similar to the 3/8in. inset hinge in the fact that your door partially overlaps your frame and it partially sits inside of the frame. An offset hinge is going to be surface mounted (meaning your door wing and your frame wing are both attached to the front surface.) The 3/8in. offset hinge has a bend on the door wing that measures (yep, you guessed it-3/8in.) the bend actually lips around the back edge of your door. Below is an example of a 3/8in. offset hinge, again take note of the diagram which will show the hinge following the bend of the door.
3/8in. Offset Hinge

Those are the major types of hinge, and believe it or not there are still more types of hinges out there in the world. I can't give too much away though, or I might teach my way out of a job.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Not All Cabinet Hinges Were Created Equal- Part 1

I can't count how many times over the years I've heard a customer tell me, "I thought all cabinet hinges were the same.” And through their quest for the correct hinge, they've come to realize how wrong they were. There are a zillion different options. OK not a zillion but I'm sure it seems that way to some.

There are Overlays, Insets, Offsets, Demountables, Face Mounts, and European Hinges. I'll go through each one and hopefully make some sense out of them for you. I'll start with the anatomy of a hinge:

Partial Wrap Hinge

∙The Frame Wing is the part of the hinge that attaches to the cabinet frame.

∙The Door Wing is the part of the hinge that attaches to the door. Depending on the hinge, this can attach to the back of the door, the side of the door, or the front of the door.

∙The Knuckle is what connects the two wings together and allows the hinge to rotate.

∙The Pin is the long barrel that runs through the knuckle and holds the hinge together. Some people will use the terms Barrel, Pin, and Knuckle interchangeably.

Now that you know what the parts of a hinge are called, we can go on to the mounting of hinges. There are a few main types of mounting; the first would be a Partial Wrap hinge. This is pretty much exactly how it sounds; the hinge partially wraps the frame. On the frame wing of the hinge, there is an extra bend that allows the hinge to be mounted on the side of the cabinet opening rather than on the face of the cabinet. The door wing is mounted on the back of the cabinet door. When the hinge is installed and the door is closed all that you see is the knuckle. The picture above is an example of a partial wrap hinge.

The next type of mounting would be a Face Frame hinge. On a face frame hinge, the frame wing is attached to the outside of the cabinet frame with two screws, and the door wing is mounted behind the cabinet door. When the door is closed, the frame wing side of the hinge is exposed. See the picture below:

Face Frame Hinge

Another mounting type is a Surface Mount hinge, again it sounds like what it does. Both the frame wing and the door wing are mounted on the surface (or front) of the cabinet. When this hinge is installed, and the door is closed you would see the frame wing on the outside mounted with two or three screws and the door wing mounted on the outside with two or three screws. An example:

Surface Mount Hinge

Last would be a Flush/Full Inset mount, some people call this type of mounting a full inset because the door is fully inside the cabinet frame. Some people call it a flush mount because the door and the frame are flush with each other. On a full inset hinge, the frame wing is mounted to the side of the cabinet opening and the door wing is mounted on the inside edge of the cabinet door. When a full inset hinge is mounted, your door will be flush with your frame and all that you would see when the door is closed would be the knuckle. The last example:

Flush Mount Hinge

I don’t want to scare you into never buying hinges on your own so I’ll save the best for last….cabinet hinge applications. Stay tuned for next weeks installment of an in depth explanation on the different types of cabinet hinge applications.

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