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Builders Hardware

iron, cast, bolts, wrought, locks, lock, brass, various, steel and bronze

BUILDER'S HARDWARE In that early stage of the art of building when it first became necessary, either from cli matic conditions or for personal protection or convenience, to cover openings and entrances through the side-walls of buildings with some form of movable surface or grating which could at will be rigidly fastened in place, the use of a crude form of builders' hardware first became a necessity. Just as the wire nail of to-day has taken the place of the oak pin and hand-forged nail of one hundred years ago in construction work, so have the various forms of modern locks, bolts, and patented fasteners taken the place of the lock, latch, and bar fastenings of earlier days. In fact, times have changed as well as fasten ings, and it is very doubtful if it would be a safe proceeding in our crowded cities to leave "the latch string hanging out." While there has been a great change in the types and appearance of locks, latches, hinges, escutcheons, etc., the general principles of the original forms still remain. In fact, since the recent wave of enthusiasm over the old Colonial type of architecture obtained such a foothold, imitations of some forms of the hardware com 229 mon in the early days of American history have appeared on the market.

Possibly this similarity of principle contin uing through many years—and even centuries— is most strikingly brought out in locks. His torians tell us that even the earliest forms of locks, used at the time when the Egyptians were at the height of their civilization, are almost identical in principle with the modern lock. In the earliest form of lock—which, by the way, was made of wood—several small bolts were ar ranged to drop down from a part of the mechan ism fixed to the door or gate into corresponding holes in a bar which slid through this fixed part. A wooden key of considerable size, depending upon the importance of the lock, was provided at one end with projecting pegs of different lengths, which were arranged to fit the holes into which the bolts fell when the lock was in place and to lift the bolts out of the way. Com pare this principle with that of the modern cylin der lock with its various small pin-tumblers ad justed to fit the notches and points on a flat type of key.

The term "Builders' Hardware" to-day covers all metallic mechanical fittings used in building construction. Nails, screws, and bolts are used to hold together integral parts to form the whole. Locks, latches, catches, bolts, and hooks are used to hold temporarily some adjust able member of a construction in a fixed place for a certain purpose. Hinges and butts are used as a means of easily moving, by a swinging motion, some part of a structure which it is con venient to have in various positions. Escutch eons, etc., form a protection from wear to the member on which they are used.

It is useless to try to describe standards in builders' hardware, since manufacturers of the same article use different patterns and even different materials for producing the same effect. For instance, locks, butts, and hinges may be made in various proportions and shapes, each having its distinctive object and merit, while, again, each type may be made of a variety of metals such as cast iron, wrought iron, wrought steel, brass, or bronze, the cost varying with both the type and the metal.

The metals commonly used in hardware are those just mentioned above. Cast iron plays an important part, especially in the cheaper grades of lock cases, butts, catches, casings for bolts, or in places where an ornamental design is wanted at a low cost. Cast iron takes lines in the pat tern well, and produces sharpness of definition in the reproduction of fine work. The lack of strength in cast iron is a serious drawback and should be considered when using articles made from it in places where failure in the iron could cause damage or inconvenience. For some pur poses cast iron is given a treatment in a special furnace which converts it into a semi-steel. It is then called malleable iron. This treatment toughens and strengthens the original casting, even to such an extent that it may be bent some what without breaking. Malleable iron is used in keys and bolts, and in cases for bolts where riveting or pounding is necessary, etc.

Wrought iron

was one of the first metals used in the construction of hardware. It is still used to some extent in America, and to a great ex tent in foreign countries. The advantageous use of cast metals and pressed forms in producing a large number of like parts has displaced the old individual method of piece production, except ing in cases of special design where but one or a small number of pieces are wanted. For decora tive work where much bending and welding of small parts is necessary, wrought iron is still used to advantage.

Wrought steel

is a comparatively new ma terial in the field, but is rapidly coming to the front as a constructive metal. Steel in sheets may be formed by the processes of die work into a large number of parts which formerly were cast or forged. The rolling of the steel from the ingot to the sheet increases its strength, thereby allowing strong and light articles to be made from it.


and bronze are both copper alloys, brass containing about 65 per cent of copper, while bronze contains about 90 per cent. On ac count of the higher percentage of copper, bronze more expensive than brass; and from the na ture of the alloy—tin and zinc being the other materials used in bronze, while zinc and lead are used with the copper for brass—bronze is slightly harder and stronger than brass. As in the case of wrought steel, these alloys are rolled into sheets from the cast ingot, and may be pressed or formed into the various shapes de sired for light-weight work. Where heavy or massive designs are desired, or where fine detail in decorative design is to be produced, these alloys in a cast state are rated as among the best.

The articles of builders' hardware used in an ordinary residence may be divided into the following classes: 1. Fittings for doors, blinds, and shutters; 2. Fittings for windows and transoms; 3. Miscellaneous fittings.