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    Basics on Installing Hardware

    Most furniture hardware is attached with screws, so if you know how to get the most from screws, your hardware will stay put and do its job for generations.

    The first tip for screws is to use pilot holes in most cases. These clear out the inside of the hole so only the threads (the sharp ridges that twist around the outside of the screw) will grab and do their job. It will also stop you from splitting the wood. The pilot hole should always be smaller than the screw so just the threads dig into the walls. But it should go just as deep as the screw. Make the pilot hole a bit smaller in softer woods like pine than in hardwoods like oak and maple.

    Pilot holes

    In these drawings the top piece is wood, but the principles for attaching hardware are no different. The hole in the hardware allows the screw to pass through freely, but the hole in the wood below (pilot hole) is just big enough to allow the core of the screw to go in but small enough to let the threads dig in.

    The second tip is not to overdrive the screws, otherwise your screwdriver will strip the head of the screw (looks ugly), or the screw will strip out the wood inside the hole (destroys the holding power). Do this: Put a bit of wax (any kind) on the screw to reduce friction, and stop driving it as soon as the head bottoms out in the hardware you are attaching and draws it tightly against the wood.
    There are many kinds of hardware that woodworkers use, but the main types are hinges, knobs and pulls. Here are a few tips for each:

    Door with butt hinges

    The butt hinge is the traditional choice. It looks great with inset doors.

    Butt hinges

    Buy quality. After spending a lot of time and money to create a beautiful project, don’t skimp on the hardware. People will notice. A stamped brass butt hinge (top) will have a loose pin, thin leaves, and not enough space for the screw head. Buy thicker, machined hinges (bottom), which will be easier to install, look better, and swing sweetly for generations.

    You’ll need to cut a notch (called a hinge mortise) in the door and cabinet frame to hold a butt hinge.

    Hinge installation

    Countersink hole

    And you might need to use a countersink drill bit (as shown) to deepen the countersinks in the hinge so the screw heads can sit flush with the hinge and the door can close fully.

    Hinge installation

    A surface-mounted hinge is easier to install, but calls attention to itself and isn’t right for every project.

    Surface-mount hinge

    There are hundreds of high-quality, distinctive knobs and pulls on the market.

    Rustic pull

    This rustic pull is from horton-brasses.com. Other great sources for high-quality hardware are rockler.com, brusso.com, and whitechapel-ltd.com.

    If you make your own knobs on a lathe, form a long tenon on them that can go all the way through the front of the drawer, and saw a slot down the middle of the tenon.

    Turned pull

    Then tap a wedge into the saw slot to lock it in. Trim everything flush after the glue dries.

    Pull installation