We all know that hardware is like the jewelry on a piece of furniture. It’s the finishing touch that can make a piece special. It’s also where a piece can go really wrong.
When I first started refinishing furniture, I felt like I had to replace the hardware on every piece. I’ve since changed my tune. If the hardware is original, in good condition and complete, I keep it. If there are pieces missing, it’s broken or it’s really ugly, then I replace it. My Tricycle dresser (above) was missing most of the hardware, so I replace it with these over sized ceramic knobs from Hobby Lobby. I wasn’t sure about how they would work, but they made the piece, in my opinion.
The amber knobs on the Mustard Seed Yellow dresser were actually original and unlike any knobs I’ve seen. The end of the knobs actually have over sized glass screws that screw directly into the wood. Again, I wasn’t sure about them, but they ended up looking amazing with the soft yellow milk paint.
I always keep glass knobs (above) and white bone knobs (below) on hand, because they look good on most pieces and work well with my style.
I lucked out on this Empire dresser, that had all of the original ceramic knobs. Keepers.
The small glass knobs on the Typewriter dresser were also original.
I also always pick up these tortoiseshell-looking knobs from Hobby Lobby whenever I see them on sale. They look great with refinished wood tops, which are a signature of mine.
Where do I buy my knobs? Mostly Hobby Lobby and E-bay and I occasionally get hardware from home stores and specialty shops.
What do I do with hardware I remove from a piece? Keep it! Well, if it’s kind of cute, I keep it. I have a bin where I keep all of my misc. hardware and it’s come in handy when I need a vintage screw or if I have a knob that compliments the hardware on a dresser with missing pieces. I also keep extra antique casters on hand in case I find a dresser with one missing.
When replacing hardware, how do I decide what hardware to use? I try to make sure the hardware fits with the style of the piece (or the style I’m going for.) It’s not wrong to put funky, modern hardware on an antique piece, but it has to make sense or it will look out of place. I like to try out a few different options.
What do you do with holes left by old hardware? If I’m using a single knob where a handle used to be, I fill up the holes with wood filler and sand it smooth prior to painting. It’s best to apply the wood filler with your finger, so you make sure it fully fills the hole and you end up with less excess than when it’s applied with a putty knife. Also, I sand until the filled area feels smooth to the touch. If you still feel a bump or roughness, it will show once the piece is painted.
Ultimately, the hardware you put on a piece is what makes it uniquely yours and it’s something that’s easy to change out in the future, so have fun with it. You can even have a couple of sets of hardware for a piece of furniture and swap them out based on your mood or the season or whatever!