Nailing and Pining
Old timber is often brittle and can split, particularly if there is a lock recess at the back of a drawer-front. Make a hole for an escutcheon pin with a fine drill-bit or awl. Bedding down with glue and dust will assist the escutcheon pins.
Threads and Nuts
There was no standardisation of threads until Whitworth achieved this during the 20 years after 1841. Our threads and nuts are direct lost-wax copies of the originals with some disadvantages.
Some nuts are loose. A squeeze with some pliers making the hole in the nut slightly oval can cure this.
Some nuts are tight and may need working up and down the thread before final fitting.
Cupped for thread and nut
Because it was the practice of some 18th and 19th century cabinet-makers to cup the backs of the drawer-fronts to sink the nuts into them, some threads are quite short and the drawer-fronts will again need to be ‘cupped’ before fitting the handles.
The wires supplied with our wire-fixing handles need to be fitted as follows. Open up the wire when it has passed through the drawer-front. Turn the ends of the wires inwards with pliers. Make a small hole with an awl where the turned ends touch the back of the drawer-front. Hold a block of wood against the outer loop, then tap the wires in with a small hammer. We supply either brass wires (common on marquetry, lacquer and fine walnut pieces) or iron wires (most other 17th and early 18th century furniture). In both cases we supply, free of charge, about 10% more wires than ordered to allow for breakages. Some handles use brass tapes instead of wires. These are easy to fit, having pin holes at the inside ends of the tapes.
Original handles look as if they have grown on the furniture. This is because of centuries of residue of waxes, varnishes and dust in the angle between the backplate and the surface. This effect can be copied by the use of a brown wax or, better, with a mixture of a soluble glue and fine, sieved household dust (beware of animal hairs).