About Us – Fine Box Hardware
From the highly skilled cabinet makers, to wood-workers and the box hobbyists, we aim to help you further enhance your handcrafted box creations with our quality box hardware.
Who We Are
Welcome to Fine Box Hardware. We are a sister company of Hawthorne Fine Boxes Ltd, and focus solely on the design, manufacture and worldwide distribution of high-quality hardware for boxes. Our range includes
- large and medium box hinges
- box locks with keys
- spare box keys
- box button catches
- box escutcheons and
- box kitz
Created in early 2019, we are based in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, and offer prompt and secure delivery of our hardware products to your door, wherever you reside in the UK, Europe, and much further afield. We also offer a budget range of hardware for hobbyists and will continue to expand our range in the future.
Where we started…
Our founder, Ian Hawthorne at Hawthorne Fine Boxes, has been using the Neat Hardware Range on his bespoke boxes for several years. One of the first instances he used the Neat Hinges was for a special Royal Wedding box commission for HRH Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011. The Neat hardware has continued to evolve over the past ten years, as we make design improvements. This range of quality jewelry (jewellery) box hardware is perfect for bespoke, high-end boxes. It is also ideal for use as presentation box hardware and cufflink box hardware.
Pioneers in Hinges and Box Locks
Our ambition was to be a great new alternative for box makers who were finding hardware hard to source and expensive when requiring quality. The very first prototypes for the Neat Hinge and Neat Lock were manufactured to our design specifications abroad. We were pioneers in the small box hardware manufacturing business and excited to be a micro business bringing quality and precision to all box making professionals and enthusiasts – For Boxmakers, By Boxmakers. The Neat Hinge went into production in 2011, while the Neat Lock followed shortly afterwards in 2012. Ian also looked at providing the lock and hinges in stainless steel as well as brass, and this was achieved in 2013.
Ian has attained a great wealth of knowledge and expertise in 3D software packages over the past twenty years and uses technology to produce his hardware designs. (Software packages include Solidworks, Sketch-up and V-Ray).
What’s in a Name?
Why name our hinge and lock designs as ‘Neat’? Our first hinges could be described as having an ‘n’ shape at the rear, due to its external stop system. So, after some creative thinking, it was decided that the neat hinge would be an ideal name. (Other connotations to the word neat were also positive, even more so if you’re American).
Evolution not Extinction
The Neat Hinge has undergone several adaptations since it was created in 2011. The first neat hinge had an external stop system and required an undercut when fitting (see image on left – Original Neat Team). The next hinge design was brought into production a few years later and did not need an undercut. It was promoted as simply – the Neat II Hinge – route, drill and fit. However, the hinge still needed fine tuning so after reviewing the hinge again in 2019, the stop system became an internal feature, making the Neat Elite Hinge the first fully rounded hinge on the market. It is also created from two pieces rather than three, making it very robust and more pleasing to the eye. The Neat Elite Hinge certainly has the wow factor and will enhance your quality bespoke boxes. The Large Neat Elite Hinge has also been modified to the new fully rounded design. These large hinges have three screws per leaf, making this by far the strongest hinge on the market. They are ideal for large chests and very heavy box lids.
As with all new product designs, there is always room for improvement, so Ian took onboard customer feedback about the Neat Lock and started by changing the circular ended key to a slenderer tapered version with an oval end in 2015.
Sometimes changes happen due to a business need, and so when a potential customer requested adjusting the distance to pin to secure a very large lock order, we saw it as an opportunity to revise the lock for them and for all future locks. The internal spring has also changed a few times. Initially it was a v-shaped piece of sprung metal, then it changed to a compression spring, a coil and now a v-o-spring. These adaptations have helped reduce production costs while improving the smoothness of the lock mechanism. It has also led to a slimmer lock body and we now sell the Neat Elite Slim Lock in 2021.
Why We only Sell Direct
This website is the only place you can buy our Neat Hardware – Neat Elite Lock and Neat Elite Hinge and Large Neat Hinge. Our Lock was endorsed in 2013 by another maker and sold for a commission to their customers. However, they wanted to tweak our design further and to change the key turn to something quirkier, so any collaboration ended and we broke all ties. We were disappointed but not surprised when the same maker launched their own lock about two years later in 2016. They had kept our hook mechanism design but now had a quarter turn instead of our full turn. Speaking frankly, we didn’t at the time, and still do not see it as any real competition, preferring to retain the full turn ourselves. So we’ve decided to focus fully on our own hardware range and how we can improve on it and our customer service.
Pioneers – with Great Customer Service
Over the past decade we have altered and enhanced the Neat Hinge to become the first fully rounded hinge on the market today. Competitors come close but don’t quite achieve it. We have also developed the Neat Lock’s exterior and internal mechanisms since 2012. Our solid lock continues to feature the easily recognisable hook, that slots into the top plate, with the full turn mechanism and the very satisfying ‘Click’ sound! As with our original lock, there are no protrusions on the plates and they are beautifully finished. There are other similar locks on the market, but we will always take pride in being the pioneers, who aren’t afraid to invest time and money, to experiment and test, adapt, learn and grow. Our customers are the best judges of our products. We are a customer-led company and so delivering great products with exemplary customer service is our aim – just ask our customers – and Trustpilot!
The Future is Exciting
We’ve been seriously considering manufacturing our Neat Elite range in-house and are pleased to now run a HAAS Metal Milling Machine. We will be adding video footage in the coming months as our vision becomes reality so stay tuned to our facebook and instagram links.
We are excited to be adding to our hardware range with plans to produce our very own Neat Button Catch. The Neat Tray Handles have made a welcome return, and we will be introducing the ultimate Neat Lock Fitting Jig. We’ll keep you posted on developments via our Facebook and Instagram. We have also been adding clothing apparel – t-shirts and caps – so the future includes being well presented in YouTube videos 😊
Get in Touch…
Our easy-to-follow Fitting Instructions for box hardware (box hinges, box locks, and box catches) are available on this website. Our fine box hardware team are happy to assist with any queries you may have. Indeed, if you have any suggestions for hardware we should stock, would like to review any of our hardware, or send us images of your beautifully completed boxes adorned with our hardware, then simply contact us on email@example.com, Facebook us or telephone +44 (0)28 90 836 987.
Happy Box Making!
From Ian Hawthorne and The Fine Box Hardware Team