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Furniture & cabinet hardware for home & shop storage

Author: Carl Duguay
Photos: Rob Brown
Published: February 2024
Hardware for home and shop
Hardware for home and shop

Storage projects for the home and workshop will greatly benefit from using the right type of hardware.

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Storage projects for the home and workshop will greatly benefit from using the right type of hardware. All of these hardware products have been designed with func­tion and looks in mind, and come in a wide of variety of options. Researching what hardware you’d like to use before you get started will go a long way to ensuring you end up with a beautiful, func­tional and strong project that goes together with ease.

There are dozens of hardware product categories on the market, and within each category there can be dozens of different designs and materials in a range of styles, from classic to modern. Many pieces are available in a range of finishes, including brass-plated, nickel-plated, satin chrome, oil-rubbed and antique English. Some, like kitchen cabinet levellers and many types of drawer slides, are available in only one colour. Trying to find the right product for your project or your home can be somewhat onerous. Here are some of the more widely used hardware products used in furniture and cabinet storage projects.

Butt Hinges
Butt hinges are simple and strong, and come in a wide range of sizes and finishes. They usually have to be mortised into both the door and the frame to work properly and look good.

Butt Hinges

No-Mortise Butt Hinges
These types of hinges don’t need to be mortised into doors or frames, as each leaf of the hinge is cut away to allow the other to close properly. No-mortise hinges like these aren’t meant to carry a large amount of weight.

No-Mortise Butt Hinges

Strap Hinges
Strap hinges, often used on exterior gates and large chests, offer a bit more screw-holding strength over a large area because the holes in the hinges are more spread out. When used on chests they offer a largely decorative touch.

Strap Hinges

Piano Hinges
Piano hinges offer strength over a longer dimension, as there are screws and a central pin along the whole length of the hinge. Here, a piano hinge secures a door on a hanging tool chest.

Piano Hinges

Face Frames
When hinging a door on a cabinet with a face frame, specially designed hinges need to be used. They can either be secured to the front of the face frame or, as in this case, to the inner edges of the face frame.

Face Frames

European Hinges
These types of hinges are available in a wide range of styles, so ensure you purchase the correct ones. The angle they open to, whether they are soft- or regular-close, and the position they hold the door in relation to the gable are the main options.

European Hinges

Soft Close
Most brands of European hinges are available in soft-close options. Each brand is different, but this brand closes part way normally, but when the arm closes enough to press against the small, dark area in the middle of the hinge’s base, it slows the closing movement of the arm.

Soft Close

Different Installation Options
Some European hinges come with this type of screw and need to have larger holes bored to accept them. Most hobbyist makers don’t need this type, and just purchase hinges that work with regular screws, though the screws and hard plastic posts in this hinge can be removed fairly easily. (Photo by Blum)

Different Installation Options

Barrel Hinges
These types of hinges are one of the least visible on the market. Accurate mating holes need to be bored in the mating parts or the two hinges won’t line up properly. (Photo by Lee Valley)

Barrel Hinges

SOSS Hinges
Like barrel hinges, these are very discrete hinges with a very smooth movement. They also need to have mating cavities that are machined carefully for the hinges to work. (Photo by Lee Valley)

SOSS Hinges

Knife Hinges
Like barrel and SOSS hinges, knife hinges need to have carefully machined recesses to house and locate them. They’re a good choice when the situation calls for one. The style in this picture is straight, though they also come in offset versions.

Knife Hinges

Full Extension Slides
Full extension drawer slides run smoothly and can carry a fairly high amount of weight. (Photo by Lee Valley)

Full Extension Slides

Drawer Glides
They aren’t as smooth acting as their full-extension counterparts, but they’re easy to install, work well and are cost effective. (Photo by Lee Valley)

Drawer Glides

Easy Installation
Jigs, like this Kreg version, make installing drawer slides easier and more accurate. (Photo by Kreg)

Easy Installation

Lever Handles
Although they’re less common than a round knob door handle, a lever handle can be easier to operate for those who have their hands full with groceries or for someone with arthritis. (Photo by Weiser)

Lever Handles

Matching, but Different
Knobs (left) and pulls (right) can often be purchased to match, so you can keep the style of the project the same across all the doors and drawer fronts.

Matching, but Different

Stops and Catches
An assortment of magnetic and friction stops and catches can make using doors and drawers easier and more functional.

Stops and Catches

Latches
A latch can help keep a lid closed, which might be beneficial for many reasons. Some latches even have locking mechanisms.

Latches

Bumper Crop
An assortment of bumpers will come in handy to reduce noise from banging doors or add grip to the underside of a small box or project.

Bumper Crop

Gliders
While this glide screws onto the underside of a project to reduce scratching the floor, others can be hammered into place or come with adhesive surfaces. (Photo by Lee Valley)

Gliders

Kitchen Cabinet Levellers
Adjustable kitchen cabinet levellers make quick work of levelling a group of cabinets and also provide a way to attach a toe kick underneath the cabinets. They also work well with wall units and vanities.

Kitchen Cabinet Levellers

Level the Ground
By drilling a small and large hole in the bottom of a leg, and hammering in a T-nut, a threaded, adjustable leveller can be installed to stop the project from rocking.

Level the Ground

Cabinet Feet
Adjustable cabinet feet are both functional and attractive. They’re available in different styles to suit the project. (Photo by Lee Valley)

Cabinet Feet

Shelf Pins
A range of shelf pins are pictured here. Most are inserted directly into the holes in a gable, though some require a sleeve to be inserted into the hole before the post can be installed. Diameters are typically available in 5mm, 7mm or 1/4". They can also be made of wood if you want a unique addition to a display cabinet.

Shelf Pins

Hooked
Hanging hooks come in a wide variety of sizes, styles and finishes to suit just about any project.

Hooked

Brackets
Available in many shapes, finishes and functions, brackets can help strengthen a project in many ways.

Brackets

Hinges

Plain (a.k.a. standard) butt hinges are the most common type of hinge, used on everything from entrance, bedroom and kitchen cabi­net doors to fine display cabinets and fancy boxes. They consist of two leaf plates each with three or more curved “knuckles”. A pin that slips into the knuckles joins the leaf plates together. The hinge pins can be untipped or tipped for a more decorative look.

There are also ball-bearing, spring-loaded and lift-off butt hinges. Ball-bearing hinges, used primarily on large, heavy doors, have bearing rings between the knuckles that help reduce friction so doors open and close more easily and smoothly. Spring-loaded (a.k.a. self-closing) hinges, typically installed on screen, garage and gate doors, have a hollow centre section that contains a spring that automatically closes the door. Lift-off hinges allow you to quickly remove the door from the cabinet.

While plain hinges require you to cut a mortise to house the hinge, non-mortise hinges are simply screwed into the cabinet frame and door. These hinges are usually much thinner than plain hinges, about 1/16″ thick, leaving a smaller gap between door and frame. However, they don’t support as much weight as mortised hinges. Some non-mortise hinges have one leaf that’s cut out to receive a smaller opposing leaf so they mount flush.

Strap hinges are part of the butt hinge family and commonly found on gates, barn doors, storage chests and some kitchen cabi­nets. Smaller brass or stainless-steel versions are used on fancy lidded boxes and cabinets. They’re mounted on the exterior of the door and frame.

Piano hinges can be considered a type of butt hinge. They have two leaves that run the length of the hinge and a single pin that connects the leaves together. Think of them as the work boots of footwear – functional and durable. They’re also quite easy to install – just screw them in place. They’re available in 3′, 4′ and 6′ lengths and can be easily cut to whatever length you need. You can also get small piano hinges as short as 2-1/2″ for use on small boxes. They’re usually attached with #1 screws or flat head brads.

Kitchen and bathroom cabinets are either face-framed or frameless. For face-framed cabinets there are face frame hinges, a type of semi-concealed butt hinge in which only part of the hinge is visible, and surface-mounted hinges that are attached on the outside face of the frame and door without a mortise for a more traditional look.

European-style (a.k.a. 35mm, Blum or concealed) hinges are some of the most common types of hinges found in kitchen and bathroom cabinetry as well as wall units. They can be used on overlay or inset face-framed cabinets and frameless cabi­nets. When the door is closed, these hinges are completely hidden from view. They take a bit more work to install on new cabinets as they require drilling 35mm holes for the hinge cup. Because the holes need to be precisely drilled for the doors to hang cor­rectly, it’s best to use a jig such as the Kreg Concealed Hinge Jig (Kregtool.com) or Rockler JIG IT Concealed Hinge Drilling Guide (Rockler.com). One of the major advantages of these hinges is that they’re adjustable in three ways – left and right, up and down, and in and out – which makes it super easy to ensure all your cabinet doors are perfectly aligned.

Euro hinges are available in two styles. Compact hinges are smaller and a good choice when you want to maximize space inside the cabinet or have slightly less vis­ible hardware. Long-arm hinges provide a clip-on-off feature that enables you to remove doors for cleaning, repairing or refinishing. Euro hinges also have different opening angles – from 90° to 170° – depend­ing on how wide you want the door to open. Snap-close (a.k.a. self-close) hinges have a built-in spring that, after you begin to close the door, snaps it shut fairly abruptly. Soft-close hinges have some form of internal damper that closes the door more gently.

European hinges are available in three main formats, depending on how the door will be orientated compared to the gable it’s attached to. Full overlay hinges are used when the door will overlap the gable com­pletely. Half overlay hinges are used when there will be two doors hinged on a single gable (one door on either side) and both doors will collectively conceal the gable’s edge. Inset hinges are used when the face of the door will finish in the same plane as the front edge of the gable, causing the front edge of the gable to be visible.

Though the thickness of the gable isn’t important when using inset hinges, when you’re using full or half overlay hinges, gable thickness comes into play. There’s likely barely enough lateral adjustment in the hinges to not purchase a different base plate, allowing you to use the same hinge and base plate on both 3/4″ thick and 5/8″ thick gables. Having said that, if you’re using 5/8″ thick gables, I’d recommend pur­chasing base plates that are 3mm thicker that will allow you a bit more range of adjustment when dealing with full or half overlay hinges.

Barrel hinges are hardly noticeable when installed. They’re used on display cabinets, lidded boxes and lightweight swing doors wherever you want a discrete hinge. They consist of two barrel-shaped cylinders with a hinged knuckle joint that enables them to pivot for opening and closing. You need to drill precisely laid out holes in the door frame and cabinet for the barrels. They’re generally used for doors from 1/2″ to about 1-3/8″ thick.

Invisible (a.k.a. SOSS) hinges are similar to barrel hinges in that they’re invisible when the door is closed, and scarcely visible when the door is open. They consist of two arms that extend outwards when pivoted to enable the door to swing open. To install them you need to cut a rabbet. The fastest, easiest and most accurate way to install them is with a router and a jig, such as the Woodhaven SOSS Hinge Jig (Woodhaven.com).

There are two types of knife (a.k.a. pivot) hinges: straight and offset. Like barrel and invisible hinges, they’re very discrete. These hinges are installed at the top and bottom of the door and the hinge side of the cabinet. Use a straight knife hinge when the top and bottom of a cabinet extend past the sides and an offset hinge when the cabinet top, bottom and sides are all inline.

Slides and glides

Slides and glides (a.k.a. drawer runners) enable drawers to open and close smoothly. Slides consist of a stationary rail that’s attached to the side of a cabinet and one or more moving rails. A 3/4 or 7/8 exten­sion slide has one moving rail and will extend 3/4 or 7/8 the length of the slide. A full-extension slide has two moving rails and will extend the full length of the slide. There are also over-travel slides that extend an inch or two beyond the front face of the cabinet. Virtually all slides use ball-bearings (typically stainless steel) to facilitate move­ment of the rails. This reduces friction and makes drawers operate more smoothly and quietly. Slides have different load-bearing capacities, ranging from around 50 pounds up to 400 pounds.

A glide (a.k.a. roller or Euro slide) is a less refined runner that usually has two thin rails each with a single plastic wheel to facilitate movement. Almost all are bottom-mount, 3/4 extension and epoxy coated (usually white). While they’re the most eco­nomically priced runners available, they don’t support as much weight as slides.

Side-mount slides, like the ones men­tioned above, are common. Installing them isn’t overly difficult and made easier if you use some kind of jig, such as the Kreg Drawer Slide Mounting Brackets (Kregtool.com) and undercut head screws (Richelieu.com). On frameless cabinets the slides are simply screwed into the cabinet and drawer sides. On face-frame cabinets the slides are attached to the frame stile and also to the back of the cabinet by means of a bracket, as well as to the drawer sides.

Growing in popularity are undermount (a.k.a. bottom-mount) slides, as they’re virtually invisible, offering a cleaner appear­ance. Centre-mount slides are also largely invisible and suitable for light-duty applica­tions. They’re available in 3/4 extension.

Slides are also available with three dif­ferent motion features. Self-closing slides use a spring-actuated mechanism that pulls the drawer closed. Soft-closing slides have a spring mechanism and damper that slow the drawer as it shuts so it doesn’t slam. Touch opening (a.k.a. touch release or push-to-open) slides employ a spring and trigger mechanism that pushes the drawer open when you apply fingertip pressure to the drawer front.

Pocket door slides are used when you want to open the doors and then slide the doors into the side or top of a cabinet. You’ll often find them on entertainment centres and armoires, and possibly some kitchen cabinet situations. They’re more complex to install.

Handles

Anything that you hold with your hand to open and close something is essentially a handle. Doorknobs and door levers are the ubiquitous handles found on large doors in virtually every home. They come in a pleth­ora of styles and finishes. People who have difficulty using their hands (for example, with arthritis) often find levers easier to use. And when using both hands to carry some­thing a lever can be operated with an elbow.

On smaller doors and drawers, such as kitchen cabinets, display cabinets, dressers, sideboards and the like, knobs and pulls are used. Knobs are round or oval while pulls have parallel arms connected by a rod. It’s a matter of personal preference where you use both of these, and often they’re available in matching options so you can use both knobs and pulls in the same project and still main­tain the same look.

On large, heavy entrance doors (the kind you find on store entrances, offices, and classic- or luxury-style homes) you often find large wood or metal pulls used. In the workshop, small, modest lobed (a.k.a. fluted) or tapered knobs, usually made of plastic, are used on jigs and fixtures.

Catches, latches and locks

All three are fastening devices most often used to keep doors closed. Catches are the simpler of the three, comprising two pieces that “catch” together. To release the catch, you simply pull the door from the cabinet. There are a variety of catches includ­ing friction-fit, magnetic, bullet and ball / roller catches.

Latches, on the other hand, require you to manually disconnect the two hold­ing pieces to release the door. Most often they’re mounted on the exterior of the door. Doorknobs, in fact, are a type of latch as they consist of a handle, a latch and support components that make the two parts work together. There are also bolt latches (used on windows and utility doors), gate latches (used on gates, and garage and barn doors), spring latches (a bolt latch with a spring that automatically retracts the bolt), draw (or tog­gle) latches that pull two surfaces together (such as on a toolbox or a chest), and cam latches (often used to hold cabinet and desk drawers closed).

Locks offer more security than catches and latches. They’re mainly used on the odd door or drawer that will be tasked with storing valuable items. Although this is more often the case in an office setting, there’s nothing saying a home office or stor­age unit can’t have a lock on some or all of its doors and drawers.

Stoppers, bumpers and door closers

Doorstops protect walls, furniture and doors from damage caused as a door swings open. There are two types of doorstops: those that prevent door handles from denting walls and those that keep doors from closing. The classic baseboard-mounted stop consists of a flexible spring or a rigid arm with a rub­ber tip. The spring or arm is usually screwed into the baseboard. Other stops are mounted onto the bottom side of the door or on the top of the hinge pin. Wedge door stoppers are not fixed and are temporarily placed under the bottom edge of a door.

When you want to keep two items from banging together, or protect one item from damaging another (think cabinet doors, pic­ture frames on the wall, lamps on a table), use a bumper or bumper pad. They can be made of rubber, plastic, felt or cork. Most have a self-adhesive backing for easy installa­tion. For kitchen cabinet doors and drawers, you’ll want to use dampers. A damper absorbs the impact of slamming doors and drawers and gently closes them. They do this by means of a pneumatic mechanism built into the damper.

Door closers prevent entry and bedroom doors from slamming shut. The most com­mon type is mounted at the top of the door and to the door frame. Concealed door clos­ers are mounted into the top of the door and door frame, making them virtually invisible.

Gliders, casters and levellers

Gliders (a.k.a. sliders) are small discs that you attach to the bottom of furniture legs so they can more easily glide over a floor. Some incorporate either a manual or spring-loaded self-levelling feature. They can be attached by means of double-sided tape, nails or screws. Non-marring felt glid­ers are best for hardwood flooring while nylon or polyethylene sliders work best on carpet or tile flooring.

Casters make it easy to move furniture, cabinets and shop machinery across floors. They typically consist of a wheel and a mounting frame with holes that enable you to screw the caster in place. Another common style of caster has a stem that’s inserted into a hole that you drill into the cabinet or furniture leg. Rigid casters don’t swivel while swivelling casters rotate a full 360°. Either of these can have a lock­ing feature, often a foot-activated brake. Casters are rated for the weight capacity of each caster, which can range from a few hundred pounds up to a ton. Nylon casters work best on carpets while urethane cast­ers are a better choice for tile, concrete and wood floors.

Levellers, as you might have guessed, adjust to provide a level, stable base for furniture and cabinets. In the shop they’re useful for levelling machinery or equip­ment. Shims (a.k.a. wedges) are a good choice for a temporary fix. For a more per­manent fix there are T-nut levellers, which are installed into a hole you drill into the bottom of the item. Cabinet levellers are widely used to quickly level kitchen cabi­nets or wall units. You install them under the cabinet base. Some include a plate clip to which you can attach a kick board (plinth) directly onto the leveller. Cabinet levellers are typically around 4″ high, and offer about 1/2″ of adjustment both below and above that dimension, so you can level the cabinets they’re attached to.

Another option, particularly suitable for bookcases and display cabinets, are cabinet feet, which consist of a decorative foot with a mounting plate that you screw into the base of the cabinet.

Shelf pins

Many storage units and cabinets have adjustable shelves to allow you to adjust shelf height depending on what items you’re storing on them. The only hard­ware needed for this is shelf pins. They come in three main diameters: 5mm, 7mm and 1/4″. They consist of two main parts; a metal or plastic post that fits into a hole that’s drilled in the cabinet gables and a flat surface attached to the post that the shelf sits on. Some have a tab that ensures the shelf doesn’t tip upward at all.

High-quality shelf pins come with a metal sleeve that gets inserted into holes in the gables, then the pin fits into the sleeve.

There are special shelf pins that are to be used with glass shelves. They have a metal post with a rubber sleeve around it so the shelf is much less likely to break.

Hooks

Storing clothes, especially coats and other outerwear, sometimes calls for a few hooks to be included in a closet design. They’re almost always very simple to add. Hooks come in a range of sizes to suit your needs. They’re also available with single or multi­ple fingers on each piece of hardware, so one hook can easily hold multiple items. Smaller, more delicate hooks can be purchased that would be appropriate for holding a purse, or other more formal items, near an entry door. Other hooks are very rudimentary and strong, and are great for basement or garage storage tasks.

Brackets

Shelf brackets are a very simple approach to fixing one or more shelves to the wall at 90°. Often white, but they can also be found in other colours, these shelf brack­ets are great for adding simple storage in closets, basements and garages. Screw a few brackets to some studs so their heights are aligned, rip the shelving material to the cor­rect width, place it on top of the brackets and screw the shelves to the brackets. These brackets aren’t meant to support the weight of a set of snow tires, but they will easily hold lighter items. Stronger shelf brackets have a support strut that extends from near the bottom of the vertical member to near the front end of the horizontal member. Weaker brackets are just “L” shaped.

L-brackets are used to add strength to a project by connecting different parts to each other at a 90° angle. They’re usually chrome, but you can sometimes find them in different colours.

Straps, also called mending plates, are flat pieces of metal hardware that act like L-brackets, but aren’t bent to an angle. They have a few screw clearance holes drilled in them so you can span two parts to fix them together. They’re relatively strong but are limited by the holding power of the screws that keep them in place and the material they’re used with.

Sources

Classique Hardware is a Canadian online retailer that has an exten­sive selection of architectural, cabinet and restoration hardware – ClassiqueHardware.com

Horton Brasses manufactures more than 1,000 different pieces of authentic reproduction cabinet and furniture hard­ware – Horton-Brasses.com

Lee Valley is a Canadian retailer that carries a wide range of cabinet hardware – LeeValley.com

Metal Style Bouvet is a Canadian online retailer of decorative hardware in modern, classic and period styles, made in France – Bouvet.com

Whitechapel manufactures a wide range of classic and contem­porary style cabinet and furniture hardware – Whitechapel-ltd.com


Carl Duguay - [email protected]

Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.

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