Friday, December 31, 2010

Faux Strap Hinges: Creating a Smart Look with Dummy Strap Hinges

The strap hinge appeared early in the evolution of the metal door hinge. Strap hinges are hinges with an extension, or strap, that fastens to the face of the door in order to provide the hinge added support. This design was necessary because modern mounting wood screws had not been invented yet and doors were heavy, typically made of solid wood and often larger than modern doors. Forged iron strap hinges were used for centuries in Europe and simple designs of strap hinges were crafted by blacksmiths for doors found on the first early American homes. The introduction of the modern wood screw enabled the modern strapless door hinge and brought an end to the wide use of the classic strap hinge.

Faux, or dummy, strap hinges are essentially strap hinges without the hinge. Dummy strap hinges are purely decorative, recreating the charming look of real strap hinges. Like real strap hinges, dummy strap hinges are usually made of cast or forged wrought iron. However, Dummy hinges are also made of aluminum, bronze, copper and steel. They are available in many styles including Old World European, Early American and American Craftsman styles.

Old World European Style Dummy Strap Hinges
European style strap hinges typically have more ornate forms featuring decorative tips and are constructed of black forged or cast iron. European dummy strap hinges are ideal for European-revival style homes including Tudor and French Country Cottage style homes.

Early American Style Strap Hinges
Original Early American style strap hinges are much less ornate than their European counterparts. True to the past, reproduction Early American style dummy strap hinges often feature simple designs with bean, heart, or spade shaped tips. Dummy Early American style strap hinges are typically constructed of black forged iron.

Craftsman Style Strap Hinges
Distinctively styled hand crafted strap hinges were reintroduced during America’s Arts and Crafts period. Like the originals, dummy Craftsman style strap hinges typically have a rustic, hand crafted appearance. They are also often made of copper and bronze and have simple tulip, square or other geometric shaped tips.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Antique Bathroom Sinks: The Hole Truth

Sometimes in this space, we say a lot about a little. Today is one of those days. We will be discussing the middle hole on antique bathroom sinks. If a hole is nothing, then today we will be saying something about nothing; which, if you think about it, is saying quite a bit. On with the show…

Early bathroom sinks typically had two separate taps. Sinks had one hole on the left for the hot water tap and one hole on the right for the cold water tap. Between the taps was the subject of today's blog post, the center hole. The center hole in antique sinks was typically used to install a chain stay for a rubber stopper style drain. A chain stay anchors the rubber drain plug to the sink. While far less common, pop-up drains were also available by the end of the nineteenth century. If an antique sink had a pop-up drain, the stopper was activated by a pop-up knob that would be installed through the sink's center hole. Pop-up drains were innovative for the time, so the knob usually featured a white porcelain button labeled "waste" to help the less-sophisticated identify its intent.

By the 1930s, mixing faucets began to grow in popularity and the purpose of the middle hole changed. Mixing faucets have hot and cold faucet handles flanking a center spout. The spout was installed in the middle hole of the sink. As is common today, the pop-up knob was integrated into the spout.

Over time, standards developed for bathroom sinks. Today, the spread between the two outside holes is usually 4" for centerset faucets or 8" for widespread faucets. The faucet holes in modern bathroom sinks are usually 1-1/4" diameter minimum.

Recognizing the significance of the bathroom sink's center hole is important if you wish to restore an antique sink. If the center hole was originally designed for a chain stay, the sink may not support a widespread faucet. The center hole may be odd shaped (e.g. square) or too small. Shop 4 Classics offers antique reproduction taps and chain stays to restore the sink to its original charm. Or, if you prefer a mixing faucet, you may be able to use a bridge faucet with a sink hole cover to cap the center hole in the sink. Sinks that had an antique-style pop-up drain are typically the most difficult to restore because the center hole can be too large for a chain stay, a sink hole cover, or a widespread faucet's spout. If you can not restore the original pop-up drain, it may be necessary to fabricate flanges to retrofit the sink with other options. If the sink was designed for a widespread faucet, you can choose a widespread faucet, a bridge faucet with a sink hole cover, or antique reproduction taps with a chain stay.

In addition to being useful for antique sink restorations, the evolution of the bathroom sink's center hole can be used to impress family and friends as you gather this Christmas to roast chestnuts on an open fire. Best wishes for a joyous holiday season from your friends at Shop 4 Classics!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Quality Counts When Buying Fireplace Screens and Fireplace Tool Sets

Winter weather has blown into Kansas City sending temperatures into the teens. I still enjoy at least the first couple of months of cold weather and the occasional snowfall that it brings. I look forward to starting a fire in our fireplace as it brings back vivid winter memories from my childhood. Our fireplace was always lit to warm the house when family came to visit. While the parents played cards, the kids played in the fireplace’s warm glow. However, not all of my memories were so positive. I remember getting in trouble numerous times for fiddling with the fire and playing with the fireplace tool set. I also remember the occasional scare I got when an ember popped out of the fireplace towards me. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that a forged iron fireplace tool set and heavy duty forged iron fireplace screen were among my first purchases upon moving into my new home.

Fireplace tool sets are a necessity if you intend to burn natural wood in your fireplace. The standard fireplace tool set includes tools used to maintain the fire as well as tools used to clean-up the fireplace after the fire goes out. Fire place tongs are used to add and reposition logs in the fire. Similarly fireplace pokers are used to reposition logs and stir the fire to keep it burning. It is well worth the added cost to purchase heavy duty iron tongs and pokers that are sufficiently long enough to adjust the fire without getting too close to its heat. Fireplace tool sets typically include a fireplace brush and shovel used to remove the ashes once the fire goes out and its embers cool.

The primary purpose of fireplace screens is to prevent embers and burning logs from exiting the fireplace. As with fireplace tools, purchasing a quality fireplace screen is always money well spent. Fireplace screens should have a metal, or fire resistant, mesh supported by a heavy and very sturdy frame. The mesh is designed to prevent small embers from popping out of the fireplace and onto the floor. The fireplace screen’s metal frame should be heavy and sturdy enough to stop burning logs that may roll from the fireplace.

Shop 4 Classics selection of heavy duty fireplace tools and screens are created by skilled blacksmiths from hand forged wrought iron. Our forged iron fireplace accessories feature ornate designs that ensure that they remain an attractive hearth accent even when the fireplace is not in use.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Door Hardware Harmony: Matching Keyhole Doorplates

When you purchase a fixer-upper old home, you are almost certain to encounter a hodgepodge of door hardware. Additions and incomplete restorations will likely elevate the mishmash of door hardware in your project home. However, creating uniformity by replacing interior antique door hardware is a relatively simple task and, if your budget demands, it can be completed in stages.

In an old home, you may discover that some doors employ tubular latches while other doors utilize antique mortise locks. This can present a problem in your quest for consistency. Mortise locks and the doorplates that are used with them have a hole for the doorknob spindle and a hole for the keyway (i.e., a keyhole). Tube latches have a spindle hole but they do not lock with a key and, therefore, neither they nor their doorplates have a keyhole. If your doors include a mix of latches and mortise locks, they likely have a clash of backplates with and without keyholes. The presence or absence of a keyhole in the doorplate may seem insignificant but this minor discord can be eliminated with a simple trick of the trade.

Keyhole doorplates can be used with both mortise locks and tubular latches. However, because a tubular latch does not have a keyway, the surface of the door will show through the doorplate's keyhole. It may appear as if an incompatible backplate was paired with the latch. To remedy this situation, position a piece of black electrical tape on the door behind the doorplate's keyhole. The black tape will give the appearance of a functional keyway and all the backplates will match. Ahh...doorplate harmony doesn't require a Christmas miracle afterall.

Peace and quiet can be hard to find in a home crowded with family and friends at Christmas but vintage door hardware featuring keyhole doorplates are easily found in bountiful supply at Shop 4 Classics. Save an additional 5%-10% on door hardware orders with our online coupon codes. Don't leave your home off your list this Christmas.