Hardware is the term used for metal fittings incorporated into a cabinet extraneous of the wood or engineered wood substitute and the countertop. The most basic hardware consists of hinges and drawer/door pulls, although only hinges are an absolute necessity for a cabinet since pulls can be fashioned of wood or plastic, and drawer slides were traditionally fashioned of wood. In a modern kitchen it is highly unusual to use wood for a drawer slides owing to the much superior quality of metal drawer slides/sides.
Drawers and trays
Drawers and trays make it easier to access a cabinet’s contents. They are a substantial benefit because they reduce bending and squatting. The only drawback is slightly less usable space which is taken up by the slides as well as door clearances. A typical drawer is 5 inches (130 mm) narrower than a comparable shelf. A drawer can usually hold about 75 to 100 lbs for ordinary use. Using slides, mounted on the side (reducing width slightly) or bottom (completely out of sight), a drawer or tray can be extended considerably with a smooth, linear motion using minimum effort.
Drawer extension is the exposed proportion of a fully extended drawer. Traditional drawers with wood-on-wood runners can only be extended about three-quarters; however, modern runners enable full-extension drawers. A slide’s design parameters are its height, depth, extension, weight rating, durability, serviceability, and smoothness of operation.
Soft close and push to open
New varieties of hinges and slides have been developed that enhance the action and usability of doors and drawers.
Soft Close is one of the most widely used hardware upgrade, a system where once a door/drawer is pushed to close, a mechanism slows the momentum of the door/drawer, closing it gently and quietly. This system is beneficial in reducing slamming doors, injuries to children and wear and tear on the cupboard.
Push to Open is another common hardware option, this mechanism allows people to simply push the cabinet door, where a spring-loaded mechanism then opens the door without the need for handles. This option is used in high end kitchens where a clean, handle-less look is desired.
There is a large variety of specialty hardware for kitchen cabinets. Special hardware for corner and other blind cabinets makes their contents more easily accessible. They may be in the form of lazy susans with or without a wedge cut out or of tray slides which enable the hidden corner space to be occupied with trays that slide both laterally and forwards/backwards. Sponge drawers use special hinges that fit between the cabinet front and the sink.