Identifying original RTA/furniture fasteners

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  #1  
Old 04-12-06, 12:03 PM
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Angry Identifying original RTA/furniture fasteners

This may be an odd request, but I'm seeking help to identify the missing fasteners originally used with an entertainment center I found (without documentation or hardware). I doubt the unit is worth the time to identify the OEM hardware, but by now it's become more of a obsession to find it. Details (too many) from various emails follow, but I don't think I'm able to attach a photo.

Thank you in advance for sharing any ideas,
Dave

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Subject: Fastener identification - furniture puzzle

Hello,

This may be a strange request, but I'm puzzled. I found a disassembled entertainment center in a closet, but without hardware or documentation. So far I've been unable to identify the manufacturer. It's fairly large, but resembles typical RTA/KD furniture, made of some type of 5/8" particle-board with a wood finish. It's in good shape, but so far I haven't been able to find fasteners that would replace the originals.

The two vertical sides have larger holes (about 5/16" or 8MM) through them, which match up to two smaller holes (about 5/32" or 4MM) drilled about 1 1/2" - 2" into each side of the horizontal shelves. There are vertical dividers which also attach to the horizontal shelves in the same way - larger holes in the flat adjoining surface match to the two smaller holes in the ends of the up-rights. While shelf supports might hold horizontal shelves, it seems that ALL pieces, including the outside frame and half-round trim, were firmly attached via these pairs of holes with the same type of fastener hardware.

A few of the larger holes in the vertical sides look like they might have held flat countersunk type screws and were flush with the outside (maybe just chipped because of someone else's after-market attempt). Most others (especially in the shelves) don't look like they were countersunk. There are no thread marks at all in the larger holes, and no obvious ones in the smaller holes (though hard to tell). The hole measurements were taken by finding that the smooth end of 5/16" and 5/32" non-tapered drill bits fit very snugly into the respective holes.

Ideally I'd like to use one fastener per pair of holes, but I haven't found a cabinet screw/confirmat screw with a wide enough diameter to properly fill the larger holes (for 5/8" length), and with a wood screw-end small enough to match the smaller holes (for 1 1/2"). Most don't seem to start that wide at the base and end up with such a smaller diameter screw.

If necessary, hanger bolts/screws could be screwed into the two end-holes of the shelves, but I also haven't found a type of Joint Connector Nut/Cap Nut to attach to them that is wide enough in diameter to fill the larger holes. This type of nut probably wouldn't be countersunk/flush like the original hardware may have been, but maybe plastic caps could be found for them.

If the originals were some type of twist-loc fasteners, they would have been though-hole and not right-angle cam-type, and I haven't seen these. Since the insides of the larger holes seem smooth it doesn't appear that anything was threaded or hammered into them.

If you know what type of hardware may have been used in this case, or have ideas for cabinet screws, nut caps, inserts or other alternatives, I would very much appreciate hearing them.

Thank you in advance for any thoughts,

Dave

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Seeking original hardware (for 5/8" wood particle-like board) that could be used to fasten shelves with 1 1/2" - 2" deep X approx. 5/32" wide holes in the sides to the vertical ends with 5/16" holes. A short GRK Top Star screw would almost work, but the larger 5/16" holes in the frame don't have any signs of thread marks.

http://www.grkfasteners.com/en/TOP_1_2_information.htm

The sizes of this screw is _almost_ perfect (the screw diameters are very close, but the threads are extremely pronounced and might require boring the holes a little larger). The tips barely fit into the panel end holes, but the wood material is too hard at a right-angle for the larger diameter to catch into the 5/16" holes. If it wasn't for these larger holes not having any trace thread marks, I would say these were the original fasteners. The length of the one I found was about 2 5/16", which seemed perfect for the connections.

I question whether this entertainment center would have shipped with such expensive screws, so I'm hoping there's a variation somewhere.

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Old 04-13-06, 06:34 AM
OudeVanDagen
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The fasteners that you are inquiring about are furniture screws, but probably not a proprietary screw. Proprietary screws are one of a kind, unique to the manufacturer, designed and engineered just for his products - and available only from him. Furniture manufacturers usually just use market screws - but there are thousands of styles and sizes, and each screw can have several applications. For many years the fastener industry called this type of fastener 'Sears Screws' because Sears and Roebucks was credited with popularizing kit furniture through their catalog sales. They've also been refered to with the acronym SARS for Some Assembly Required Screws. Over time nearly all went to metric numerations because of the furniture imports first from Europe then and now from Asia.

One style of furniture screw can have several applications. The type you inquire about will for example hold verticle and horizontal parts of a kit bookcase togther tightly, but can also be used to hold the parts of a wooden folding chair together and allow movement. That's because the screw has a barrel shank much larger than the threaded section. It's popular because the barrel shank will pass through supporting members, but very firmly fasten into another collateral part; making assembly, dismantling, or adding other modules onto the unit easy. The fine diameter, point and thread angle of the threaded end eliminates the propensity for screws to split woods. In other applications like that aforementioned folding chair, this screw can be permanent, and it's barrel shape allows repeated movements. The barrel shank sometimes is hollow and threaded allowing for the insertion of a machine thread screw. That's the type very common in kit furniture from Northern Europe. I think that is exactly what your unit needs.

Hard to find? IMHO, Yes, and when you do find them they are usually only available in large quanities; 500, 1K or more. Sometimes stores that sell lots of kit furniture have a 6 count bubble pack display rack with these screws, and sometimes the customer service or technical help counters in those stores have a few bins of them to give out when a customer complains of missing pieces or strips a screw head; but in my experiences the only place you're going to find them for sure is through a fastener supply house or at a woodworkers supply that has furniture screws. I think all that will be a rough hunting expedition for you and that you're best option is to assemble the unit with whatever you can find and substitute. You may be better served locating and drilling new holes and using common screws instead.
 
  #3  
Old 04-14-06, 08:26 AM
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Thumbs up Identifying original RTA/furniture fasteners

OudeVanDagen,

Thanks for your insight. The unit has a good finish, is heavy and sturdy, so I had hoped the manufacturer was still in business and could be identified. But no luck yet. Even if I did that might not help, not knowing how old it is.

Your opinions about the hunt are right on the money. Check with major hardware/fastener sites, browse manufacturer sites in Taiwan, etc., find pictures but no dimensions, etc. Along those lines, these came up the other day: http://www.modularkitchencabinets.com/cabinet-hardware/29-36-male-connector-pack-20-pack.php or http://www.modularkitchencabinets.com/cabinet-hardware/38mm-confirmat-screw-pack-50-pack.php

If I don't find the OEMs or cabinet/confirmat screws that fit I could either use the GRK TopStars (only need about 12) with slightly larger holes, or use hanger screws I've found and try to find a similar JC nut. Or, take a good opportunity to change the shelf configuration and sizing all around and start new.

Thanks again for the technical details and your thoughts,
Dave
 
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