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!

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