Category Archives: Materials

Stainless Steel Hardware Care

Stainless steel is a high quality, sturdy alloy containing at least 10.5 percent chromium. Chromium is essential because it’s the component that helps prevent rust. Without proper care, though, stainless steel can corrode. Follow these guidelines using items commonly found in the kitchen. They’ll keep your stainless steel hardware bright, shining and unblemished.

Avoid These at All Costs

Before you start pulling out cleaning supplies, here’s a list of materials to leave in the cupboard. Do not use any of these on stainless steel:

  • Chlorine bleach
  • Oven cleaner
  • Steel wool or another abrasive scrubber
  • Very hard water or dirty water
  • Commercial silver polish
  • Antibacterial cleansers

Certain substances speed up corrosion, so try to keep them away from stainless steel:

  • Standard steel or other metal
  • Seawater
  • Salt or salty foods

Also, if it’s been heated, let clean stainless steel cool before you clean it.

Erase Everyday Buildup

To remove ordinary grime and keep stainless steel hardware sparkling, wipe it with a soft cloth that’s been dipped into a mixture of warm water and mild liquid dish detergent. If you want, substitute a little ammonia for the detergent. Rinse off the cleanser with plain water, and dry it with a clean cloth.

Be sure to wipe off water that’s on stainless steel. Though it’s not harmful, it can lead to hard water stains you’ll have to eliminate later.

Remove Grease

Clear away grease buildup with a nylon scrubbie. Dunk it into hot water with a squirt of dish detergent added, and scour. Be sure to rinse away the soap and towel dry the area.

Eliminate Stubborn Residue and Stains

If a liquid cleanser doesn’t work on dirty hardware, make a paste out of baking soda and dish detergent. Gently clear away gunk using a nylon scrubbie or soft toothbrush. Wipe any remains with straight vinegar. As always, rinse and dry thoroughly.

Get Rid of Adhesives

To remove sticky residue, use an alcohol-based solvent, such as acetone. After the gumminess is gone, wipe away any cleanser left behind.

Buff to Gleaming

After cleansing your hardware, make it really gleam. Apply lemon oil or a dedicated stainless steel polish with a cloth, and buff dry with a second clean, lint-free cloth. Commercial polishes form a layer over stainless steel to help it repel dirt. The protection stays in place for several months. If you want to remove it, rub the area with a soft cloth damped with alcohol.

For best results, don’t use a stronger cleanser than necessary. Choose the one that fits the situation, and always be sure to wipe the surface clean and dry.

Talking turkey about unlacquered brass hardware

So, Thanksgiving is coming. Let’s talk turkey.

Turkey

No, really, let’s be frank.

Frank Sinatra

Ha, ha. But enough with the jokes.

Because there are very few companies remaining in our industry who offer fine-quality solid brass cabinet hardware, we are often asked about the possibility of getting unlacquered brass cabinet hardware. When our finishes don’t work for an end-user, or they want specifically to match an existing piece of hardware, or a faucet, or even anything else, getting custom plating on unlacquered hardware is sometimes viewed as a solution.

However, there can be problems with this process. Customers often ask about this option before they consider the risks and complications involved with using unlacquered brass. Here are a few of the reasons to choose already finished brass hardware instead of unlacquered:

Unlacquered brass hardware oxidizes.

The first is probably the largest and most common problem. Unlacquered brass can oxidize. Since brass is made mostly from copper, you’ll often find that it will change color and oxidize (not rust, that’s iron) if left exposed to air. Even the smallest amount of moisture or humidity can tarnish copper products, whether they’re pure or alloys like brass. For an example, here’s a photo of a raw K341 cup pull. All it’s done is sit in our (very dry) office for about 6 months:

brass-cup

You can see the tarnish that even the moisture from fingerprints has left on this raw pull, and you can only imagine how much handling goes into packaging hardware before it gets to our warehouse.

The thing that makes this issue even worse is the fact that our products are shipped in by marine freight; that means that they are trucked to port, then put on a steamship, then trucked here. They sit on the dock at the harborside, and then they float on across the ocean, and then they sit on the dock up in New Jersey while they wait to be cleared by customs and brought to our warehouse. The more moisture there is in the air, the worse the tarnishing gets. If we’re not careful, pretty soon, your hardware is going to end up looking like, well, this:

Statue of Liberty

That’s right… the Statue of Liberty is made from copper. It was originally copper-colored (no, it wasn’t always green). The distinctive verdigris patina that we all recognize today was developed by exposure to the moist salt air in New York harbor.

Unlacquered brass has to be cleaned, treated, and polished before finishing.

After the raw brass comes out of the forge or off the lathe, it has to be cleaned using a special wash and treated before it goes to the finishing or plating company. In some cases, there are additional steps to be performed, such as polishing. This depends on the finish that you want.

The tarnish that can occur during a marine shipment just adds to this problem, because you’ll have to have all that tarnish removed before you can plate the hardware. This adds time and labor hours to the process. It could also affect the integrity of the material underneath, depending on how the tarnish is removed.

Unlacquered brass contains lead.

This is probably the most important reason why unlacquered brass hardware isn’t something that Cliffside offers regularly. Primarily, brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, but it also contains other metals, one of which is lead.

Lead
Brass contains lead.

Without the protective layer of lacquer, we run the risk of potentially exposing our customers to lead. We’re a service-first company, so we’re always thinking about you. This means we’re absolutely not willing to put you at risk by shipping you hardware that could potentially be dangerous.

All Cliffside hardware is lacquered.

For these reasons and more, we only ship out lacquered, finished hardware. Cliffside’s products are not currently available unlacquered for these and other reasons. We’re happy to continue being your provider for the best in high-quality solid brass hardware, and we’re committed to keeping you safe and happy. So check out our line of lacquered brass hardware today for the best selection of high quality products in the kitchen and bath industry!

Advantages of solid brass cabinet hardware

Walk into your local hardware store in search of knobs and pulls. What will you find?

Oh, how many knobs and pulls will you see at your local hardware store?
Oh, how many knobs and pulls will you see at your local hardware store?
So many different selections!
So many different selections!

Very likely, you’re going to see a variety of different styles and sizes of cabinet hardware: knobs, pulls, cup handles, and so on. Look at the brands that are sold in your local hardware store. Oftentimes, those brands are selling a huge range of products but they never tell you where it comes from or what it’s made of. Well, we’ll tell you. Most cabinet hardware is made from zinc or aluminum. Why? Because these materials are inexpensive and easy to form into different shapes. Makes sense, right?

But what happens when you touch that inexpensive material day after day after day? When you create or remodel a kitchen and put in all that time and energy to get the perfect look that you want, you want that look to last! Zinc and aluminum cabinet hardware are not going to hold up over years of use. Eventually, you’ll have to replace them.

This is why Cliffside chooses not to stock zinc or aluminum cabinet hardware. Sure, we have special-order products in these materials, but our standard product lines are made from high quality solid materials, like forged bronze, stainless steel, and most importantly, solid brass cabinet hardware. Why should you choose solid brass hardware, you ask? There are a wide range of advantages.

The benefits of solid brass hardware

Solid brass cabinet hardware is more durable

First, and possibly most importantly, solid brass cabinet hardware is among the most durable in the industry. Whether you’re choosing knobs and pulls for your kitchen, bath, dining room, furniture, or other applications, solid brass hardware is a proven winner.

In our industry, we know that kitchen and bath cabinets can be exposed to harsh conditions. You use water in your kitchen and bath every day, so that has to be considered when testing the durability of hardware. To protect the underlying core material, and also to create different colors and looks, cabinet hardware is often lacquered or plated. This is how you achieve different finishes, such as polished nickel or antique copper.

Just because it's "solid brass" doesn't mean it always looks like brass!
Just because it’s “solid brass” doesn’t mean it always looks like brass!

Here’s a hard fact: when you apply a finish to solid brass material, that finish is up to 300% more durable than when you apply it to zinc. Think about that – if you buy the exact same knob made in zinc and in solid brass, the zinc one will last only about one-quarter to one-third as long as the brass one! Longevity is a huge benefit when you’re choosing the type of cabinet hardware you want.

Brass hardware is more consistent

Next, when you order product made from brass, you’re going to be getting a more consistent base material. This helps the finishes adhere better and makes the hardware last longer.

Now, this isn’t ALWAYS the case. A lot has to do with the manufacturing method. A plated casting, for example, is not going to hold up as well over time as a plated forging.

Wait, what?

The manufacturing of brass hardware

OK, so casting is a manufacturing process in which metal is heated up (I mean, really heated up) until it’s a liquid. For a material like zinc or aluminum, this is not really a huge deal, because they have lower melting points: around 790 degrees Fahrenheit for zinc and 1220 degrees Fahrenheit for aluminum. For brass, though, that takes an awful lot more time and heat – brass doesn’t melt until around 1700 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on how much copper and zinc is in that specific type of brass.

After the metal gets hot enough, it’s poured into a mold or die that’s shaped like the inverse of what you’re trying to make. So, if you wanted to make a square, you’d have a square-shaped hole carved out of a block of steel (the die). This creates the process we know as “die casting”. Oftentimes, you’ll hear cabinet hardware referred to as “die cast”, but this is actually talking about the manufacturing process and not the material.

The problem with casting is due to the fact that the metal is liquid when it’s poured into the mold. Liquids can get bubbles in them. As soon as you get that metal off of the heat, it starts to cool. And if it cools with a bubble in it, then that bubble could be in your casting – in this case, an air bubble inside your knob or pull. If those bubbles are close to the surface, after some use (or even during the finishing process), the bubbles can break, causing pits in the surface of the item.

Look at the pits and dents in these brass castings!
Look at the pits and dents in these brass castings!

So, how do we avoid bubbles? Don’t work with liquids.

Instead, most solid brass hardware is made using one of two methods: machine turning and drop forging. Both of these processes start with a brass rod. For turning, the rod is fed into a lathe and spun to carve out a shape. This is most often seen with round knobs. For forging, it’s a little more complicated. The rod has to be heated up, so it goes through a kiln or furnace to raise the temperature to about 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. This way, it’s hot enough to re-shape, but not so hot that it’s melting down into liquid.

The hot brass rod is fed into a die, but the molds used to make forged products are a little different: there are two halves. One half of the die drops down (hence the name) onto the hot brass and pushes it into the other half of the die, creating a shape.

So why is all that important?

The brass rods that are used to create the hardware are extruded; that is, they’re forced through a hole in another type of die to make a cylindrical shape, just like pasta. If you look at the outside of a piece of pasta, close up, you’ll see that it has a grain from being pushed through the die.

pasta-214867_640

Well, brass is the same way. When it’s extruded, it develops a very fine grain pattern: not just on the surface, but all the way down to the core of the metal. Because we work with solid rods, rather than melting down scraps that don’t have a uniform grain, the forged knob or pull is going to be stronger than the same piece of hardware that’s cast.

Solid brass hardware is more beautiful

Another advantage of solid brass cabinet hardware is the beauty that results from choosing a strong and durable product with a consistent base material. Because Cliffside’s solid brass hardware is turned and forged, the base material is not only stronger, but smoother. This ensures a consistent application of finish, and the choice of brass material ensures that those finishes will last longer.

Brass is anti-microbial

One of the biggest advantages of brass hardware is that it’s easy to care for. If it gets dirty, just wipe it clean with a wet cloth. No soap or cleansers allowed or necessary: since brass is made mostly of copper, it’s naturally anti-microbial and will kill germs. Just wipe off any general kitchen dirt and grime with a soft, damp cloth and the hardware will take care of the rest.

Brass cabinet hardware is versatile

Because brass can be transformed into such a wide variety of shapes, you can find a use for solid brass cabinet hardware in nearly any room of your home. One of the great benefits of brass cabinet hardware is just this simple fact: it goes anywhere! Whether you want cup pulls for your kitchen drawers, handles and knobs for your bathroom vanity, latches for your living room furniture, or appliance pulls for your refrigerator or freezer, solid brass cabinet hardware has it all.

Solid brass cabinet hardware, finished in black, is a beautiful enhancement throughout this kitchen.
Solid brass cabinet hardware, finished in black, is a beautiful enhancement throughout this kitchen.

It’s also a cost-effective purchase to get brass hardware instead of a lower quality material. On average, you’re going to pay about 30% to 40% more for a piece of solid brass hardware versus zinc hardware – but brass hardware is up to 300% more durable than zinc! When you purchase quality, you can be assured that is what you will get.

Cliffside knows quality. This is why we’ve always been the solid brass hardware experts. Whether it’s hinges or handles, latches or knobs, pulls of any shape or size… Cliffside Industries has the brass hardware you’re looking for. So shop today, and see what it means to buy the best hardware in the industry.

How is brass cabinet hardware made?

There are a variety of different techniques used in making different sorts of brass cabinet hardware. Some of the possible manufacturing methods include turning, casting, forging, and extrusion, among others. Here, we’ll discuss the types of manufacturing used to make different types of Cliffside cabinet hardware.

Turned cabinet hardware

The 161 series is only one example of a turned cabinet knob.
The 161 series is only one example of a turned cabinet knob.

Because of the economy of manufacturing cabinet knobs directly from a brass rod, turning is the process most commonly used to make round pieces of cabinet hardware. A lathe is used to turn down a round brass rod using a specified shape. This is possible for a wide variety of round cabinet hardware shapes. An example of a turned brass knob is Cliffside’s 100 series. All of the parts of this knob are round and are manufactured using a lathe. Often, the manufacturer can use a multi-spindle lathe, a high-speed, high-volume machine which can turn off multiple knobs simultaneously or in quick succession from a series of brass rods, rather than using a single piece. Some other Cliffside knobs which are turned include the 158, 161, 110, and 100-20 series. Some pulls can also be turned or machined; an example is Cliffside’s SP series, which are turned from a brass rod and then bent into their D shape. Stainless steel pulls like the T305 series are also often machined, since they are simply bars that are milled on the ends with screw-machine holes added to accept the legs.

Advantages of turning over other methods

When a knob or pull is turned, the brass material is fully solid and has already been extruded (more on the extrusion process later), so it is the strongest it can be. This ensures that you are getting a solid, high-quality piece of cabinet hardware that is made to exacting specifications. Machining on a lathe also allows for tight tolerances.

Forged cabinet hardware

The IBCL cabinet latch is made up of several small forgings assembled into one piece.
The IBCL cabinet latch is made up of several small forgings assembled into one piece.

Drop forging is a standard process by which hot metal is inserted into a two-piece mold. The upper portion of the mold, or “tool”, presses down onto the hot metal, forcing it into the lower portion of the mold and creating a single piece. Forging is an expensive process but creates very strong pieces, as the hot metal’s “grain” is aligned to follow the stress lines of the finished product. Forging also allows for tight tolerances. Cliffside has many cabinet hardware pieces which are forged, with tools and dies ranging from small to large in size. Most of our cabinet hardware pulls, such as the B1 series and the B622 series in all four sizes, are made from forged brass, as well as all 5 designs of our solid brass cup pulls. Each SBCL and IBCL cabinet latch we sell is an assembly made up of a variety of small forged parts. Cliffside’s Sedona bronze cabinet hardware is also forged.

The advantages of forging

Due to the strength created by aligning the metal grain, forged metals are among some of the strongest in the world. However, the disadvantages to forging are the wear and tear that manufacturing processes can have on the tool used to make the metal piece.

Extruded cabinet hardware

The BH2A cabinet hinges are extruded from hot brass.
The BH2A cabinet hinges are extruded from hot brass.

The extrusion process, during which hot metal is forced through a die to form a shape, is most often seen in the manufacture of brass rods, as mentioned above. However, extrusion can be done in a wide variety of shapes; take a look at pasta, much of which is extruded into all sorts of shapes and sizes. Most knobs and pulls don’t have a chance at being extruded, because there are more efficient ways of making them. However, Cliffside’s cabinet hinges are perfect candidates for extrusion. When the hot brass is forced through a die, the metal is sheared off to very tight tolerances, resulting in a very high quality and strong cabinet hinge. Inset and offset, mortise and non-mortise: all Cliffside cabinet hinges are made using this method, which is why Cliffside offers the strongest brass cabinet hinges in the kitchen and bath industry.

Why extrusion is important

The quality and durability of extruded brass simply can’t compare to stamped hinges, which are punched out of a sheet of rolled brass. When brass is rolled, the grain is stretched. Conversely, when a brass rod or other brass shape is extruded, it aligns the grain, creating strength. Cliffside’s hinges are the perfect example of why extruded brass is the best choice for inset and offset cabinet hinges.

Other manufacturing methods

A wide variety of other manufacturing methods can be used to make cabinet hardware. One example is stamping, as mentioned above, where hardware is punched out from a rolled, flattened sheet of brass material. Punching through the brass can weaken it and create stress points, which is why Cliffside doesn’t offer any products that are “punched” or stamped in this manner. Another popular method is “casting”, where metal is heated to a liquid state and poured into a mold. There are several different kinds of casting, such as investment casting, sand casting, and permanent mold casting. Since Cliffside’s hardware is mostly brass, it’s rare to see a cast product in our line, and when you do, it will probably be made from zinc. Zinc melts at a much lower temperature than brass and can be formed into a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Casting molds are also much more expensive than forging molds, and although they have a longer life, the volume of manufacturing required to pay for the tool becomes high compared to the cost of the material. Also, as with any liquid material, it’s possible for bubbles to form in liquid metal, and if not removed, these bubbles can show up later and wreck the casting.

All in all, Cliffside Industries is proud to carry hardware manufactured to high tolerances and the best of quality to ensure that you are receiving exactly what you seek: a collection of high quality brass cabinet hardware. Check out our website for more information on the hardware lines we carry!

Why buy solid brass?

For 25 years, Cliffside Industries has been the United States’ pre-eminent distributor of premium-grade solid brass cabinet hardware. Our selections of cabinet knobs, drawer pulls and handles, solid brass latches, appliance pulls, and industry-leading cabinet and armoire hinges are renowned throughout the kitchen and bath industry as the unquestionable top of the line. Throughout our first quarter-century, while other hardware companies have come and gone, and when new ones are popping up every day with copycat styles and inferior materials, Cliffside has been steadfastly committed to providing high-quality solid brass hardware – so much so, in fact, that we have won awards to that effect. When so much other cabinet hardware is available in a wide range of styles, colors, and materials, customers just have to ask the question: “Why buy solid brass?… Why should I invest in my cabinet hardware? What difference does it truly make?” Allow us to enlighten you…

#1: Quality

Because Cliffside Industries produces high-end, top-quality hardware, you can rest assured that you are getting the “bang for your buck” that you are seeking. Solid brass is a heavy material and is designed to hold up over the long term. Our solid brass cabinet hinges, for example, are made through a process called extrusion; that is, the hot metal is pushed through a die that forms it into the proper hinge shape and then sliced off in thin sheets to provide the strongest available construction. For a real-life comparison, think of a piece of penne pasta: the flour is mixed with eggs or water into a pliable dough, then pushed through a ring-shaped die and sliced off into about 1-inch lengths. Many of the brass hinges made by our competitors are stamped from a sheet of brass. In keeping with the food comparison, think of a sheet of biscuit dough, rolled flat. In truth, when you cut out the circles of the biscuits, all that’s left around the outside: scraps (in this case, the hinge you are counting on to hold up your cabinet doors!). The extrusion process makes the hinges quantifiably stronger and more durable in the long run than stamped brass hinges. In comparison to steel, the hinges are resistant to the flaking and powdering that is often found with lesser-quality materials like carbon steel hinges. Additionally, our appliance pulls are load-tested to stand up over time to the repetitive opening and closing of refrigerator doors with vacuum or magnetic resistance.

#2: Durability

When finishes are plated onto brass rather than inferior materials like zinc, aluminum or steel, they become much more durable. In a standard industrial test of finish durability, the finishes plated onto brass hardware, on average, are approximately 300% the strength of those plated onto zinc material. Over the life of your hardware, that can really add up. When you go to the big-box home improvement store and buy the bubble pack of 6 knobs you see hanging on the rack, you will probably need to replace those knobs again very soon, because the finishes just won’t be durable enough to hold up over the long run. That brings us to…

#3: Value

When you remodel your kitchen, you are making a true investment in your home. Many realtors agree that, in terms of home value, a new kitchen will add approximately 80–90% of its value to the price of your home. In numeric terms, if you invest $50,000 in your kitchen, that can add up to a whopping $45K to the value of your house! That’s a lot! You want this kitchen to stick around, and you want it to be productive and useful for many years, whether you are living there, whether you pass the home on to your children or other relatives, or whether you sell the home to a prospective buyer. In terms of cost, the value you get in choosing solid brass hardware over zinc is easily seen. The cost difference from zinc to brass is usually an average of 25% to 35% more per piece, but for that additional 25%, you are getting nearly twice the weight, two or more times the quality, and three times the durability! In all cases, solid brass is the winning choice.

So…

The next time someone asks you, “What’s the difference? Why can’t I just buy this cheap knob for $2.00 at the box store?”, you can tell them the advantages: buy quality, durable products and get your money’s worth!