How To: Replace furniture hardware

May 30, 2012

Q. I have a 1980s Thomasville bedroom set with a broken pull. The pin at the end snapped off. I believe the pull was made from a casting. Can it be repaired? If not, how can I replace it?

A. Thomasville Furniture Industries carries replacement hardware, but only for relatively recent pieces. For hardware on older pieces, the company refers callers to two companies, each with a different approach to finding a solution.

One of these, Hinges & Handles in Osceola, Ind. (574-674-8878), carries a huge array of new hinges, plus a few salvaged pieces. For hardware that is especially unique, the company sometimes attempts a repair. Mostly, though, it searches its inventory to find the best match.

Gina Santuro, a replacement furniture hardware specialist at the company, suggests checking the back of the hardware for a model number. (The furniture model number is useless, since the company carries only hardware and isn’t linked to specific furniture manufacturers.) If there is no model number, on a pull like yours you’d just need to e-mail the distance between screw holes, plus a photograph of the hardware, to hingesandhandless@gmail.com. The company e-mails back with possible options. If there is an exact match, you can replace just the one pull. If the match isn’t as good, you might decide to replace them all. Prices vary so widely that Santuro said it isn’t possible to cite a typical cost. “It’s not a point-and-click process,” she said.


A broken pull from an ’80s Thomasville bedroom set needs to be replaced. (Reader photo)

The other company that Thomasville recommends, 18th Century Hardware Co. in Derry, Pa. (724-694-2708), duplicates broken or missing pieces. Owner Bill Simpson uses a sand-casting process, rather than tooling, to keep the cost low.

The company originally specialized in reproductions of antique hardware, but these days it mostly replicates fairly new pieces. Besides referrals from many furniture companies, Simpson also gets calls from homeowners who are adding on and want door hardware, hinges and knobs that match what’s in the rest of the house. And there are calls for missing clock parts, pieces of vans “and anything old that people collect and aren’t complete,” Simpson said. Copying a pull with a broken pin, the most common problem with pulls, costs about $40 to $45. He likes potential customers to phone as a way to make initial contact.

What homemade solution can I use to clean my microfiber sofa, or do I have to get it professionally cleaned? Can I steam clean it to deodorize and get rid of dead skin cells and body oils left by those who sit on it?

The term microfiber refers to the fiber’s diameter (ultra thin), rather than to the type of material. But the material type, not the fiber size, is what determines the best cleaning method. Some microfiber upholstery cleans up nicely with water-based cleaning solution, but the same treatment leaves permanent water stains on other microfiber upholstery.

Look under the seat cushions for a care label. If it says S, you must use a solvent-based cleaner. W means you must use a water-based cleaning solution. S-W gives you the option of either type. And X means you need to avoid cleaners and just vacuum.

If you need a solvent-based cleaner, make sure the label says it’s suitable for microfiber or microsuede (a type of microfiber). For a water-based cleaner, just mix a few drops of clear hand dishwashing detergent in a bucket of warm water. Dip in a sponge, wring it out well, then rub soiled areas to clean them.

If there is no tag, test the water-based cleaner first so you don’t wind up with a solvent-based cleaner that you don’t need. Do the test in an inconspicuous area, such as a section of upholstery that’s usually covered by cushions. Let the test area dry, then check. If you see a ring where the fabric became damp, switch to a solvent-based cleaner, or call a professional upholstery cleaner.

I collect penguin figurines and have many, too many. How can I sell or even give away the collection? I think I have too many for a consignment shop to want.

Penguin figurines and similar collectibles are oh so fun to buy or get, but not so easy to pass on, especially as a collection. You could try listing them on eBay, but collectibles like these don’t attract a lot of buyers, or high prices.

You might have better luck marketing them as a crafts material. Artists sometimes use figurines in assemblages, so you might try listing them in the “supplies” section on Etsy (www.etsy.com). Stores that are part of the creative reuse movement also sometimes include collectibles as fodder for artists. A local outlet, Scrap-DC (www.scrapdc.org), does not accept figurines, but you can contact other stores by using a directory that’s available at www.lancastercreativereuse.org.

Karen L. Klein, co-director of Scrap-DC, told me that if the group had more space, it would accept the figurines as a “creative reuse” donation. “We’re so cramped right now, it would probably be best to go to Goodwill or list it on Freecycle,” she said. Klein also suggested offering them to Takoma Park’s summer artist-in-residence program (www.takomaparkmd.gov). “These aren’t among the items we’re soliciting outright, so I’d advise starting out by contacting the artist directly.”

Have a problem in your home? Send questions to localliving@washpost.com . Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

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