Custom door hardware: it's all in the details - Architecture NZ
Custom door hardware: it's all in the details

Custom door hardware: it's all in the details

Developing a bespoke lock or door handle from original design to assembly is a complex process. By understanding what’s required and the steps involved, architects and designers can give their input and achieve efficient delivery for a perfect, timely result.

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

Many architects and designers struggle to find standard hardware that fits with the unique contemporary architecture and interior design they’re after. They go to Chant Hardware because Chant can work with professionals to design and manufacture exclusive hardware.

With its niche, in-house design and manufacturing facility, Chant has the capability to create beautifully designed and precision-engineered bespoke solutions.

When a customised solution is required, there is an ongoing conversation with customers, which starts with a clear brief, says Graham Chant.

His team of artisans need to know exactly what the problem the customer is trying to resolve and the parameters of the project. Understanding the start-to-finish design and manufacturing process can help a client factor in a realistic timeline that works for everyone.

Raw casts are produced and quality checked before going onto the next stage of production—linishing.

Chant Hardware: experience you can count on

“It’s a creative process that can’t be rushed. Both the aesthetics and the function are really important. Invariably other big, important things are happening in a project, like the foundations and the structure, so hardware is often one of the last pieces of the puzzle that has to be fitted in.

“However, the earlier a designer comes to us with a brief, the better. There’s a lot of work involved. Good collaboration at the start is essential; that will ensure that at the end of the process someone is able to successfully install it.”

There are generally two types of briefs from customers: “Clients who want something custom-designed from scratch to suit a specific project, and others who come to us to solve a problem.”

The team brainstorms ideas and does product research, looking at different solutions to expand their thinking and to potentially draw inspiration.

“We also revisit current products to see if there’s something that can be customised to function in a different way. A lot of products we’ve designed over the years are product extensions of something we’ve done before.”

If re-development is not feasible, they produce hand-drawn sketches of concepts to find completely new solutions, then draw up with dimensions. It’s at this stage where our designers can have a lot of input as to what the product will look like. Often, the team already has concept images on hand—for a lock or door handle, for example—that they refer to for inspiration.

The finished products undergo a technique known as linishing—the process of using grinding or belt sanding—to remove any surface imperfections. This technique is also used—with finer grades of grindstone or sanding belt—to polish surfaces to a high sheen.

Chant Hardware: superior build and manufacturing

Depending on the complexity of the design, Chant can usually produce a concept within one to two weeks. The biggest issue is determining exactly what the client is after, adds Graham.

“After going through the pros and cons of each design, we select the best direction for it to develop into and the design goes from a sketch into CAD, then we create a 3D model to give our production staff for feedback on suitability in the manufacturing and assembly processes. This removes many potential challenges early on.

“We also try to incorporate as many standard components as possible into the new design to help reduce the delivery timeframe.

“Once the concept has been approved, we sometimes 3D print the object to get a physical representation of its size and form as it is often difficult for the client to visualise what the final product will look like.

“If it’s a mechanical design such as a lock, we create production drawings for our machine shop to run a prototype product for trialling. Customising from existing products based on a proven existing function cuts back on some of the testing process.

“But if it’s a completely new mechanism, we’ll produce a prototype to run through the manufacturing and assembly process then do load or cycle testing and make refinements as required.”

If the product needs to be made from a casting, Chant makes the pattern, trials it, machines and finishes it, ready for assembly.

Minimalist Magnetic lock, minimalist levers (Line & Asta) and escutcheons.

Chant Hardware: robust hardware used for generations

A range of modern CNC machines are used to form the pieces of the product. Machinists do critical checks to establish tolerances and at the end of the production, an operator polishes the pieces to finish them to high in-house standards. Many of the products are hand-finished, then assembled.

Last year, the company was involved in a new product development which went through a significant test programme, refining the design for a new heavy duty magnetic lock destined for a large project in New York.

Graham explains, “It was a magnetic minimalist lock where the lever door handles don’t have a traditional rosette behind them so it looks as if the lever is almost floating on the door. There were 44 locks on the project, which is currently being fitted out.”

It’s difficult to determine an exact time frame for a new customised product but generally it’s 4–6 weeks for development although they always try to be as efficient and timely as possible.

“An architect once said to me, hardware is a 20-minute decision. You just need to make a choice. I said, ‘yeah right’.

“That might be so if it’s just a handle on a door, but a lot of what we do is a lot more involved than that. Perhaps that architect didn’t fully understand the complexity of what can be manufactured as a bespoke product or to solve a problem. With prominent, architect-designed homes, there’s usually a level of uniqueness or a brand trademark desired and that’s where we can assist.”

Often, US distributors come to Chant for their customised solutions as there aren’t many US companies with such a high level of engineering and mechanical design. “We’re not the be all and end all, but we do come up with some very innovative ideas.”

Find out more about having an original hardware product designed and made for your next architectural project.

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