Hardware is movement. It catches the eye and allows components to slide and swing and come to life.
Hardware can also be the difference between a great job and a breathtaking one, especially when it comes to the visible elements. When we think of Spanish missions on the West Coast or the great cathedrals of Europe, one of the abiding images is those ancient doors with their exposed wrought iron hinges and locks.
The hidden side of hardware also makes a statement. In kitchens and other casework, one of the first things a customer will do is slide out a drawer to check the soft close. But choosing hardware is not just a mechanical decision. It’s also an aesthetic one, where clients often hold a strong opinion. Sometimes they wish to emulate a modern kitchen they recently visited, or something they saw online. And sometimes the hardware is part of their story. It might evoke a childhood memory or remind them of someone important.
It can pay to have that conversation.
Form and function
Specialty hinges do one of two things, and sometimes both. They can perform a specific task, such as allowing a door to swing wide or fold away. And they can also change the entire look of a job. Cabinetmakers are familiar with the feeling of looking at a bunch of boxes and doors, and then installing hinges to create cabinets. The transformation from cubes and panels to furniture is instant and can be quite rewarding. It’s especially so when the hinges are visible.
Going back to those coastal missions, there’s a company in Valencia, Calif. called DeMejico (demejico.com) that began making period Spanish furniture a couple of decades ago when it was still located in Tequila, Mexico. Along they way, the owners opened a subsidiary called Old World Hardware (oldworldhardware.com), and this division now offers a range of hand forged rustic hardware from clavos (large decorative nail heads) and drawer pulls to iron straps and window grills, all with natural rust or black finishes. For cabinetmakers, the catalog also includes a selection of hand forged hinges that can transform a room, a cabinet or a piece of furniture. Their beaten, hand-worked character is a luxurious visual treat.
Less visually obvious, and more in the tradition of fine engineering, are hinges from Blum (blum.com). Among its choices are the standard size Clip-top and smaller Compact, either of which can be ordered with or without Blumotion soft-close action. Blumotion allows doors to close softly and effortlessly no matter how hard they are slammed or how heavy they are. In addition to hinges, the soft-close feature is available in Blum’s lift systems and drawer systems.
The Aventos lift system is all about hanging wall cabinet doors at the top, rather than at the sides. There are seven versions of this overhead hinge system, the latest being HK. It’s compact, easy to install (each lift mechanism has an integrated positioning template, eliminating the need for measuring and pre-drilling), and it works on cabinets up to 72” wide and 24” tall. There’s an integrated safety mechanism to stop doors from slamming on fingers and an opening angle stop that lets the homeowner partially open the door. Plus, the doors open very easily and close silently and effortlessly. Aventos is sleek, compact and nonintrusive, which makes it a great choice for minimalist projects. The beauty of a lift system is that doors open out of the way (kind of like a single panel garage door), allowing customers to easily see everything in their upper cabinets. And because they’re up and away, nobody walks into the doors. Aventos also comes in a HK-XS version, which is specifically designed for shallow cabinets.
Woodworkers wishing to explore these options can visit a new portal on the Blum site called The Product World. It’s an interactive tour of a home and office, and each room has casework with orange dots. Click on a dot and you’ll be given a very brief introduction to Blum’s hardware options for that particular application. Click on that for a more detailed summary. It’s a handy tool to use when showing customers their hinge and slide options.
Samet (samet.com) is a Turkish manufacturer that is familiar to woodworkers who attend the major trade shows. The company recently introduced its Supreme brand soft-close concealed hinge. The soft-close can be turned on or off and done quite easily by turning a screw in the socket. The idea here is that a shop can use the same hinge for any application, and simply switch the feature on when needed. It’s simple enough that the woodworker can quickly show a client how to make the switch, if needed. The hinges can also be adjusted quickly in six directions.
Another overseas manufacturer, the Slovenia-based Titus Group, received a Gold Medal at the Polish trade fair Furnica for its T-type concealed hinge that has integrated soft closing. Designed to install quickly, the hinge has a three-way snap on system for intuitive, tool-free mounting. It has opening angles of 110, 120 and 170 degrees, and comes in full overlay, half overlay, inset and angled options.
Salice America (salice.com) has locations in both Charlotte, N.C. and Cucamonga, Calif. The Italian manufacturer’s Silentia+ hinge “delivers a consistently perfect closing action across a truly comprehensive range of hinges for doors of all sizes, weights and applications,” according to the company. Its Series 100 is for light thin doors and the Series 200, 300 (with a compact 45mm operating profile) and 700 accommodate thicker stock. The hinge’s decelerating effect is powered by twin silicone-oil dampers that are housed in the hinge cup, and Silentia+ has a switch to adjust the mechanism. Salice also offers the Wind system, which is for top-hinged cabinet doors.
Amerock (amerock.com) has a full catalog of cabinet hinges, including the unusual CMR2606W. This specialty knife hinge comes in burnished brass or white, and is a self-closing, partial wrap, concealed 1/2” overlay hinge.
The Sensys hinge from the Hettich (hettich.com) can be ordered with or without an integrated Silent System. It has a wide automatic closing angle.
Van Dyke’s Restorers in Hodges, S.C. (vandykes.com) carries an extensive selection of cabinet hinges with special focus on hard-to-find pieces from mortise to non-mortise, lift-off, offset, and surface-mount models. Here you’ll find anything from a 22-1/2” long no-mortise parliament hinge (used on very tall cabinet doors) to Art Deco, Colonial, rustic and panel hinges.
Marlboro Mfg. in Alliance, Ohio (marlborohinge.com) is an unusual supplier of specialty hinges that include slip-joint, strap and multi-leaf custom solutions. These latter are made up of three or more butt-hinge leaves with barrels and/or pins on both sides. They’re used in applications that require more than one point of rotation and can be found in residential cabinetry plus industrial doors and windows. Marlboro can fabricate them to fit custom specs.
Shops looking for shutter or café door specialty hinges might want to swing by the National Hardware website (natman.com) and investigate the Specialty Hinges page.
Another supplier with a wide catalog offering is The Hardware Hut (thehardwarehut.com) where a woodworker will find H and HL hinges, a vast array of pivot door hinges, Sugatsune systems for large cabinet doors, and a selection of intermediate door hinges that complement pivot hinges in large doors.
Ovis (ovisonline.com) is a division of WIM Corp. and the company stocks many specialty hinges for unique applications including fold-down flap doors, vertical lift doors, very thick doors, and flipper doors.
Blum also makes drawer slides with its soft-close technology on board. And Rev-A-Shelf (rev-a-shelf.com) has taken those slides to another level by offering Glideware, which uses the slides to create pullouts that allow homeowners to securely hang accessories such as pots and pans inside cabinets that are 14” to 22” deep. A housing around the metal slide can be ordered in maple or gray colored solid wood, and the entire device is just screwed to the inside top of the cabinet. The full-extension slides can be ordered in a few different formats and they can hold up to seven hooks.
There’s a new option for woodworkers who want to install high quality slides on a drawer that includes quick and simple assembly. Grass America (grassusa.com) has added ball bearing slides to its Zargen metal drawer system to create the new ZBox. It offers standard and deep drawer heights, a railing system, and a Pendaflex filing system. The drawer sides have a white epoxy finish and the slides are zinc-coated steel. Shops can assemble a ZBox drawer in two minutes or less using the company’s Pro1 machine and ZRam. The Pro1 drills holes for the front and backs, while the ZRam presses the slides into the parts. ZBox comes in three side heights – 3-3/4”, 5-3/4”, and 8-3/8” – and there are five drawer lengths.
Grass also offers Maxcess, a full-access, soft-close, undermount slide that was designed for both face frame and frameless cabinetry. The Maxcess easily fits conventional drawer construction, handling material thicknesses ranging from 1/2” to 5/8”. A new liquid damper is integrated into the slide and provides a continuous, smooth easy-close. The result is a full view inside.
In 2017, Lockdowel (lockdowel.com) won a Visionary Award at AWFS for its new drawer slides that incorporate Channel Lock technology. The cabinet assembly system has been adapted to accommodate products such as drawer slides, face frames and castors. Using the same system to slot for assembly hardware, hinges and slides can simplify the manufacturing and assembly processes. Both undermount and side mount slides simply snap in place without any tools.
Another innovative concept is the 0363 two-way slide from Accuride International (accuride.com). It allows cabinet shops to build two-way drawers in residential islands and peninsulas, and also be creative in designing commercial and retail solutions such as supply carts in hospitals, or drawers and trays in drive-through pharmacies or banks. Essentially, the slide lets a drawer be operated from either side of a cabinet. It is specially crafted with full extension from a centered point, supports loads up to 100 lbs., and is sold singly, rather than in pairs.
Accuride’s new 3160EC is a commercial-grade undermount designed to support upscale and ultra-wide drawers up to 5’ wide (30”-40” standard, and 41” to 60” with the optional Companion Kit that prevents racking). The slide can handle loads up to 100 lbs., has an easy-close feature, and is a great solution for boutiques, upscale residences, and fine galleries.
Made for tall and heavy pocket doors, Accuride’s new CB1332 slide is designed for projects such as media centers, armoires, and concealed storage. It includes the company’s advanced cable system, which eliminates the racking that is often found when opening or closing tall cabinet doors. The company also recently introduced the ADA-compliant 116RC for sliding doors, large screens, panels, movable walls, barn doors, and more. It supports loads up to 793 lbs. And Accuride’s new 115RC can be side, flat, or vertically mounted for movable walls, sliding racks, screens, panels, partitions, and even assembly lines. It supports loads up to 265 lbs.
Accuride recently launched a new online store and an updated website.
Fulterer (fultererusa.com) has a new family of heavy-duty, full-extension, ball bearing slides named the FR56 Series that are rated at 225 lbs. And the company’s Vertical Pull-Out Slides Brochure is now available as a download.
Holmes County, Ohio is home to Century Components (xseriesbracket.com). The company’s new X-Series Bracket System is designed to provide affordable, high quality, tool-free adjustability for roll-out shelving systems. Installation is quick and easy for kitchen builders, and simple to use and adjust for consumers.
Häfele (hafele.com) has a new drawer system called Matrix that has three distinct choices for cabinetmakers. Box S is a European-style, double-walled drawer system with integrated soft close. Box Slim A is a thin-walled version with soft close and optional push-to-open. Box P has simple assembly and easy adjustment as well as the widest range of accessories.
The new BFPO2-6SC from Hardware Resources (hardwareresources.com) is a 6” no-wiggle base filler pullout. That is, it’s designed to make use of that last few inches of space where a filler might normally go. It has premium soft-close drawer slides and the sides of the unit are paneled in case it’s being used at the end of a run of cabinets. (The panels can be removed.) Another great specialized use of slides is Hardware Resources’ new Storage With Style wire pullout basket. It comes with removable gray acrylic liners, and widths are 21” and 27”.
King Slide (kingslide.com) is a Taiwanese company with U.S. offices in Houston. The company’s Simlead system features a Vibration Safety Design. That means the drawer won’t pop out under accidental shaking or vibration. And a drawer can be push opened from a closed or partially opened position, and then smoothly soft-closed without bouncing back. The push-open function can be enabled or disabled with a simple flip of a switch.
The Canadian manufacturer Richelieu (richelieu.com) is also using drawer slides in a creative way. The company’s new Fioro system is a family of pull-out shelves that can make easy work of accessing items in difficult spots such as tall pantry or library cabinets. These are metal shelves with wooden fronts and sides, and they’re available for tall, base and corner casework. The wood can be switched out for any other material such as glass, laminate or melamine. Each shelf includes two oak rails and anti-slip mats that keep stored items in place.
Richelieu has also come up with a hands-free way to open a base cabinet recycling or waste bin. The Libero 2.0 Electronic Opening System works in base cabinets from 12” to 24” wide that are equipped with a top-mount bin. It mounts in the toe-kick and uses a low voltage device with a USB socket, so it can use a charger or be wired in. Just move a foot in front of the sensor and the bin will slide out. It’s designed so that there is no unintended opening, and its integrated lighting can be dimmed or switched off using an Android or IOS smartphone app. The push-out force is also adjustable with the app. Its intelligent control can identify obstacles thanks to a friction clutch system, and it’s even splash waterproof. The extension will vary depending on the weight of the bin and the width of the cabinet.
The new ClickFixx system from Kessebohmer (cleverstorage.com) is designed for the company’s Wastebin and Base brand pullouts, and its Dispensa pantry. ClickFixx cuts assembly time by quite a bit and also guarantees a high level of error-free assembly. Both the front panel and the support frame connector are just clipped on in a quick, tool-free process. And all it takes for gap adjustment is a screwdriver. Kessebohmer’s SoftStopp system delivers damped closing, while its SoftStoppPro delivers dampened opening, and SoftSTOPPplus delivers both damped closing and self-closing. Shops building commercial cabinets might also want to look at Arena Plus, which stops items sliding around when a shelf/drawer is opened or closed.
The folks at Horton Brasses, Inc. in Cromwell, Conn. (horton-brasses.com) have been making top quality hardware for 70 years. The company makes elegant brass and nickel cabinet hinges, plus handmade iron hinges for kitchens and cabinetry. Among their specialty hinges are drop leaf table, Mackintosh (Arts & Crafts), butler tray and H hinges.
Finally, woodshops looking for the widest choice in specialty hinges and slides can find an impressive assortment in the Cabinet Parts online store (cabinetparts.com).
This article originally appeared in the January 2020 issue.