Sunday, October 06, 2013

Snap

When we last left my new, custom built, kitchen cabinet, I had located new hinges that virtually matched the hinges on my existing cabinets, as well as one vintage green, glass knob and a vintage nickel drawer pull.  The one thing missing was the three cabinet latches for the three doors.

The existing vintage latches I'm trying to match.
I had hoped to find vintage versions of these. My existing cabinet latches are unusual in that (when polished) the knob on the latch is brass colored and the body of the latch is nickel. I looked high and low for vintage replacement latches. At one point, I discovered some very close to my existing latches at the ReUse Center (now closed).  They were on a rather large bank of existing cabinets they pulled out of some poor house. They would not sell me three of those latches. Either I bought the whole bank of cabinets for near $1,000, or I was out of luck. 

Anywho. Here we are 4 years later. I finally broke down and started shopping new latches. I comforted myself with the fact that the new cabinet was across the room from the existing cabinets.  I hit up two of the well known vintage look hardware websites. Then on a whim I pulled up the site of Crown City Hardware. Their latches were quite a bit less expensive than the other two stores and they looked similar enough.  I ordered three in oil rubbed bronze.

The new latches. Made in Taiwan.
They arrived and looked fine.  So, one day armed with my drill and a bar of soap.....and a fair amount of courage.....I started to install the new latches.




I carefully measured, remeasured and then re-remeasured.  Then I marked off the drill holes with a Sharpie.  I drilled a hole, ran the screw through the bar of soap and then hand screwed the hardware in place.  All was well with the world.


 And then on the last hole of the last latch, the screw snapped. The head of the screw fell to the floor.  My heart stopped. Then it sunk.

There it is. Just hanging there. Half of a screw lodged in the wood and half laying on the floor below.
I put down the drill and walked away.  Over the next day I was able to talk myself down from despair. It was the top screw on the latch on the top cabinet. If a screw had to snap off, this was the ideal screw to do that. Worse things have happened to better people. Not the end of the world.  Etc.
The top of the offending screw.

I sent off an email to Crown City telling them I had a screw snap off and asking if I could get a replacement screw. My email was that simple. Short and sweet. I thought they would drop a matching $0.20 screw in an envelope to me.  Probably with a generic apology.

The reply I got back took me by surprise. It was a long email implying I had installed it incorrectly. They also told me I'd need to buy a bag of screws and it would take some while to order them.  I never told them how I installed it, so this took my by surprise. Then it made me mad. Good freakin grief, I was not fresh off the home restoration turnip truck. I've installed more than a few screws in my day. They were a hardware store and didn't have an extra screw that they would be willing to mail me?!

I sent off a reply informing him that I would not be buying a bag of screws from them.  I told them not to bother with the screw if it was that much trouble for them to send one out.  It wasn't worth it to me. Lesson learned, I would not buy from them again.  They had, however, given me a nice blog post.

The minute a blog was mentioned, they could not have been more happy to send me out a free bag of screws. They were very concerned about standing behind their product then. Ick.

I never responded.  I'll have to dig the remaining screw piece that is lodged in the wood out with my Dremel.  Then fill the large hole with WoodEpox and try to stain the patch to match. I'll then go down to the local hardware store and buy a Phillips (or slat if I can find one) screw in black, not oil rubbed bronze. It won't match, but I doubt anyone will see it. Not exactly what one wants for their brand new cabinet.  However, It will be a nice reminder to me about buying from companies that stand behind their product....and not going back to companies that don't.

11 comments:

Old House Lover said...

What a lousy company. The latches do look good though. Concerning the metal differences on your originals, it's my understanding that brass was/is commonly nickel plated and that the nickel plating would wear off from years of use leaving the underlying brass. Maybe that's the explanation for your unusual hardware.

StuccoHouse said...

I actually think the company itself is ok. They have been around forever. I just think they have an odd definition of standing behind their product and a numbskull manning their customer service email. They lost a pretty easy to please customer over a $0.20 screw. Live and learn.

I had a totally different experience with Schoolhouse Electric (which went to surprising lengths to help me get a light fixture of their installed). I am forever devoted to them.

StuccoHouse said...

Oh, and I'll have to post a better photo of the cabinet latches polished (I have one somewhere, was just too lazy to hunt it down). The knob is brass and the finish is pretty even so I don't think its wear (but could be), but the rest of pressed steel (I misspoke). They are pretty cute when all cleaned up.

Mayfair Mistress said...

That cabinet is too lovely for one broken/mismatched screw to ruin it. Instead of the dremel though, it may be easier to find screw extractors that'll get the threading out (I have a set of tiny ones from lowes). And I love the idea of brass/steel latches - I had assumed yours were japanned from the photos, but the two metals would be a much cooler look...

StuccoHouse said...

I actually do have an extractor kit, but unfortunately they don't work on this small of a screw - not enough surface to drill a pilot hole.

My plan is to drill into the screw with a small Dremel tip and try to break it into pieces. Same general idea as the extractor minus the trying to back it out.

I'll try to get a better photo of the original latches. The one shown in this photo just has years of patina on it.

Pat said...

Stucco, you should have blogged what you were looking for! I have the same latches (although in a flashed copper finish) from the kitchen cabinets that were too far gone. I can send you a vintage screw or 2 if you'd like. I would try dremeling out around the screw just enough to get needle nose vise grips around the stub & twist it out. I'd also try using a dowel of similar wood to patch the hole. Wood putties just never look right. I've even used a golf tee to patch a stripped out screw hole.

StuccoHouse said...

Pat - I think I blogged about it a tiny bit way back, but I have a list of probably 100 things that I constantly keep an eye out for.....so sometimes it doesn't dawn on me to post about them :) I have really good luck with WoodEpox. Have you tried that brand? It's a two part epoxy (it actually can be structural). You can add sawdust to it and it takes stain well. I've used it in many applications. If I work it right, I am hopeful that the patch with be under the latch itself. We will see.....

Old House Lover said...

I just thought of solution that's a bit of a kludge but might be simpler. Take the head of the broken screw and cut off the stem and then super glue it in it's proper place on the latch. :-)

StuccoHouse said...

Old house Lover - Something to consider....

John Nakagawa said...

I salute your perserverance and honesty. I built your cabinet and believe me every cabinet worker has done this many times... they just never speak of it. All you can do is move the hole, where possible, drill out the old screw, replace with a bigger or longer screw or fill, as you did,and quit staring at it. The hole really has to be Goldie Locks to hold one of these small soft screws, and right on center. Punching the hole center with a point helps, soap or wax helps and a gentle touch. Nice to hear one of my favorite cabinets is so cared for.

StuccoHouse said...

Hi John. Nice to see a comment from you. Thanks for the comment that even the pros suffer this fate. I should tell you that not a day goes by where I don't appreciate this cabinet. You did a really, really nice job on it. I'm glad you linked to your site....I have another woodworking project in mind soon.

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