Making Door Handles and Door Furniture

Table of Contents

Handles

Drawer and door handles are obtainable in plastic, brass or ceramic materials, plain or decorated, modern or antique.

The very simple home-made one illustrated below comprises a 100 to 200 mm (4 to 8 in) length of handle moulding, or triangular moulding with the apex planed off, or you can use 15 or 20 mm (square section — in or in) stripwood chamfered as shown in the illustration. With a pencil, mark the exact position of the handle on the front of the drawer or door. Drive a screw from the back of the drawer or door into the centre of the narrow side of the handle. Release the screw and spread glue over this side. Then replace and, before tightening up, move the handle this way or that to get it precisely in alignment. Wipe off surplus glue. The screw will hold the handle and the glue will prevent it from rotating.

home made draw handle

Stays

Here again, a bewildering array of fittings is available. One unique one is called a concealed cabinet hinge. It takes the place of the usual type of stay, which is apt to get in the way of taking things out of a cupboard, and cannot be seen from the outside. It is an improvement on the orthodox pull-out stay normally used for hinged desk tops.

Door Catches

Old-fashioned lever catches made for either left- or right-hand hinged doors have recently been given a face-lift and are now available in more attractive designs than the cast iron contraption that used to keep the coal house door closed.

For inside use there are cheap gripper catches which rely on a metal striker, fixed to a door edge, engaging with a U-shaped spring attached to the doorcase. These clang noisily when the door is being closed and, to obviate this, the latest type have a spring-loaded ball or roller which engages with a recess in the doorcase. The snag about these is that if fitted to a room door a strong draught can blow the door open, in spite of the existence of a grub screw which can be turned to adjust tension.

Then, of course, there are handles with catches combined, often seen on motor cars, which are worked by pressing a button in the handle.

The cupboard button, which is a small rectangular piece of metal with a hole bored in its centre through which it is loosely screwed to the frame or case, is a time-honoured method of keeping a door closed. Many old cottages have this device, made of wood, on their room doors; and very effective it is!

There are also magnetic catches, most suitable for cupboard doors not subjected to strain and where it is desired only to keep the door from opening of its own accord.

Locks

Locks are designed for left- or right-hand opening doors; so you should determine in advance which way you want a door to open. Some locks have reversible latch bolts which means that they can be used either way.

Do consider safety devices for your outside doors and windows! Not that they will keep out a determined burglar. But determined burglars are few and far between and most ‘uninvited guests’ are soon deterred if they cannot get in easily. Your hardware merchant will show you bolt locks which are impossible to release by breaking a window or putting a hand through a letterbox.

Castors

The housewife should bless the inventor of the furniture castor which enables chairs and settees to be pushed round a room without tearing out her inside or damaging the carpet.

Traditional castors are nothing more than small wheels pivoting in cups let into the legs of furniture, so that they automatically follow the direction in which the furniture is being pushed. These can be obtained quite small for use with light pieces, or larger for heavy duty. Indeed, there is no limit to the weight some industrial castors will take.

For very small pieces, the kind of ball catch used for a door can be adapted.

Hinges

There is such a wide variety of hinges on the market — lock joint, butt (lock-jointed or back flap), rising butt (for lifting a door over a fitted carpet), fancy and antique cabinet, strut, ‘piano’ (which extend the whole length of the door), flush, concealed, pivot, lift-off — in plain or anodized steel, cast iron, aluminium, brass, copper and nylon — that no hardware merchant could possibly stock the lot. This may mean your having to shop round to get the thing you want. Even then it may not be quite right, and this difficulty is encountered also with other fittings (called door furniture), such as handles, finger plates, keyhole plates and locks.

One way out is to make a rough plan of your proposed project. Then if you cannot get the exact fitting you will be able to find something near enough to it to enable your plan to be adapted accordingly. Or maybe you know what function the fitting has to perform but are not quite clear what fitting you need. When this happens, go to the best stocked shop in your district — at a time when the assistants are not too busy to give you 100 per cent attention — and choose an elderly, knowledgeable-looking man behind the counter; and he will advise you on the best item in stock to do the job. Such people often have an encyclopaedic knowledge and it will pay you to make friends with them.