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What are Rustic Gate Hinges?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 16, 2024
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Rustic gate hinges are offered by companies that specialize in period hardware and look as if made by a blacksmith's hammer, hand forged during times when skilled artisans turned out quality wares or the consequences might be the wrong end of a Old World sword or frontier gun. Designs commonly fall into one of three basic periods: Medieval, Colonial or Old West.

Though it may not seem brackets have changed much, one glance at a rustic gate hinge tells a different story. These handsome, heavy iron, durable pieces of hardware look handmade because they are, while each piece replicates ornate designs of yesteryear. Rustic gate hinges are not only functional and durable but they also add atmosphere to any structure.

Old West strap hinges are a great addition to gates, barns, corrals or any place you want a flavor of the Old West. The heavy square bracket with barrel knuckle connects to a long bold "strap" hammered flat into a narrowing end. The edges might be straight or curved into various designs with a rounded end, an arrow end, or a bean tip. Bean tips are hammered flat and forged with a center hole for securing. There are plenty of smaller butterfly, butt, or horn hinges too.

Much Colonial hardware is made in England and imported to the United States. Thumb latches, hefty square bolt latches and ring-and-cott latches transform any gate into a piece of history.

Some examples of Medieval designs include large "pitchfork" or "sceptre" strap hinges; ornate "C"-shaped bow hinges with an "arrow" extending through the middle, or back-to-back serpents joined by a center knuckle. On the simpler side hefty utilitarian L-hinges frame the bottom and top corners of a gate with adjoining hammered bracket.

As an alternative to traditional screws, these hinges can be secured using hand-forged spike nails with black-iron finish. These nails produce a truly authentic finishing touch, and have pyramid, square or large rounded ribbed heads.

Most of these hinges are made of iron, but they might also be made of brass, bronze, pewter, steel or other materials. Many are unfinished while others have oxidized finishes to add an aged or worn appearance.

If you like the idea of rustic gate hinges but don't actually need the functionality, there are "dummy" hinges available. Mustache, horn, or strap hinges are just a few examples of hardware designed with the same quality and authenticity as functioning hinges.

Rustic gate hinges add a rich, truly unique flavor to any property, but they are handmade and therefore do not come cheap. However, every time you glance past this hardware or reach out a hand to slide back a bolt or lift a latch, you will no doubt appreciate the workmanship and ambiance all over again.

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Discussion Comments
By bythewell — On Jun 02, 2014

@Ana1234 - Just be careful if you do get them made in a completely traditional way. The older ways are not always the best ways and you really don't want these hinges to rust away after only a couple of years, particularly if you paid top dollar to buy them.

By Ana1234 — On Jun 01, 2014

@Fa5t3r - Well, unless they have been made for some kind of custom gates, there is an easy fix if one of them happens to get damaged. Just replace both of them with something similar. I don't think that traditional looking hinges are ever going to go completely out of style. And no theme is so rigid that it needs to have one particular kind of hinge to go with it.

If you get them made by a blacksmith, you might even be able to get them made to order, which means you can have them look however you want.

By Fa5t3r — On May 31, 2014

I would recommend getting extras made of whatever kind of hinge you decide on. If your rustic gate hinges fit into your overall design for your property, then you won't want to change them if something happens. And hinges are, by their nature, subject to a lot of wear and tear. It might take decades, but eventually you'll be happy to have a backup.

This applies to all kinds of finishings. They tend to go in and out of fashion and there's no guarantee that you'll be able to find the same kind if you need to buy more down the line.

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