| Dear Customer,
Each year we trudge the seemingly endless aisles of international
hardware shows in search of new product and each year it seems
to be more difficult to find unique pieces. But the world produces
a near-infinite variety of cabinet hardware and there is always
something that can inspire, or at least add to the aesthetic or
structural value of projects. Squirreled away among the 180 pages
of this catalog there are 680 products that are new to us and,
we hope, new to you.
Casting off our normal cloak of modesty for a moment, we would
draw your particular attention to the finely cast steel handles
on page 179. These have all been reproduced from the Lee Valley
antique hardware collection, but surpass the originals in the
quality of detail. A hollow claim you say? Not at all.
The originals were made by traditional methods of sand casting.
Although we draw from the originals to make ours, we first refine
the details on the chosen models and then make master metal molds
to cast near-perfect wax replicas. These replicas have stems applied
(sprues in casting parlance) that allow them to be assembled into
casting trees, a central trunk with as many as 50 or 100 pieces
branching off from it. This wax master is then dipped in a clay-like
slurry to coat it, the coating dried until set and the process
repeated until a strong shell is formed over the entire wax structure.
This shell is heated (to recover the wax) then baked in a kiln
to harden it, much like a piece of pottery. This hollow ceramic
tree is then held upside down and has molten steel poured into
the trunk, which in turn fills all the branches.
This is the famous lost-wax casting process believed to have
been developed in Egypt. At least, that is where the Greeks learned
the process in about 600 BC and brought it back to popularize
it in their empire. It has been used ever since for, among other
things, the finest bronze sculptures and for much fine metal jewellery.
In a world that often changes more rapidly than we can cope,
it is a pleasant surprise to see a traditional product still made
by a process over 2500 years old.
Leonard G. Lee
P.S. Also new to this catalog is the section on project plans
and supplies. We transferred this section from our main woodworking
catalog to make room for more tools.