Antique Drawer Pulls and Handles

One of the easiest improvements you can make to a dresser, desk, or cabinet that you’ve picked up at your local flea market is to outfit it with a vintage set of drawer pulls or handles. Drawers pulls from numerous eras are widely available, in brass, bronze, Bakelite, and glass.

The simplest pulls are nothing more than knobs that are attached to the outside of the drawer by a bolt. Sometimes the bolt travels through the knob, other times the bolt is threaded through the drawer first before being screwed into the knob’s base.

Teardrop drawer pulls pivot on a fitting at the end of a specially produced bolt, which also passes through a decorative escutcheon, or plate, that surrounds the hole in the drawer. In many instances, vintage teardrops were made of wood so that when they knocked against the drawer, they would not do as much damage to its surface as, say, a bronze teardrop.

Vintage wooden drawer pulls can be stained so they match the look of the piece of furniture they are being attached to, or choose glass or porcelain drawer pulls in an array of colors to turn the pulls into instant design accents.

Another popular type of vintage drawer hardware is the bin pull, which was widely used in commercial furniture during the Victorian Era and early 20th century. Frequently made of cast iron or bronze, bin pulls were favored for their low profiles—instead of gripping a protruding knob, the user slipped his or her fingers behind the hardware and pulled it from there.

Bin pulls are usually attached to a drawer by a pair of wood screws—the pulls typically have a flange on either side for this purpose. Brass handles, hinged or not, are also attached in two places, but handles require bolts, so they are a bit more work to install.

Finally, there are also replacement pulls for many kinds of Mid-century Modern furniture. Chrome and other high-finish metal pulls are easy to find, but if you have an authentic piece of Danish modern furniture whose teak, walnut, or brushed-aluminum pulls were integral to the piece’s design, replacing the pulls may be a challenge.

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