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Historical Guide to Stays

Every woodworker will from time to time have call for a stay of some kind. Stays of one sort or another are used to hold chest and box lids from falling backward and sometimes forwards. They can be used to support desk writing surfaces, to hold drafting tables at a suitable working angle and then allow them to fold flat for storage. Windows can held open with a variety of types depending on application. Countless other situations will crop up. Choosing the right stay and figuring out how to install it properly is not as easy as it first appears. We stock all kinds of stays in brass and iron including casement window stays which can find application both architecturally and on cabinetwork.

As often as not the stay that seems the obvious choice will resist your most determined efforts to have it do the task you have in mind. Either it won't open far enough or won't close without encroaching where it does not belong. Sometimes the best stay is nothing more than a length of rope or chain.

Our stays fall into four categories; Folding, sliding, telescoping and casement. In the case of a blanket chest it might be possible to use either of these alternatives but some quite serious safety considerations will come into play and depending on your particular situation you will probably want to dismiss one or more alternative. The same is true in making an appropriate selection for a desk though the consequences are of less impact.

We will start with a description of each type of stay and its more common application. Having decided on the type of stay you need you can proceed to the related installation instruction page that should answer your technical questions.

Folding Stays

Typical folding stay Folding stays look a little like old-fashioned wooden folding rulers, in fact they use that same joint to allow the stay to open to twice its closed length. At each end is a swiveling "foot", if installed on a blanket chest one foot is attached to the underside of the lid and the other to the inside face of the side. Because of the offset design of the joint, once these stays fold out to their full length they cannot then return without first being released. This characteristic suits them to applications like blanket chests and boxes so long as there is no risk of small children, who might be unaware of their use, accidentally releasing them and causing a lid to fall with possibly injurious results.

An advantage of the folding stay is its compact space requirement. Unlike sliding stays that need substantial clearance for operation, a correctly installed folding stay needs no more space than it uses in its closed position. This attribute makes the folding stay a particularly good choice for fall front desk applications where as often as not small drawers and cubby holes limit available internal space.

Aside from the aforementioned safety considerations it is worth noting a couple of other drawbacks to the use of the folding stay. In any application it is a two handed job to release these stays, if you use one on each side of a lid or desk it becomes a three handed job or at least two hands and chin or knee. Installation must be precise in order to prevent the stay performing some peculiar and probably unacceptable contortions.

See How To Install Folding Lid Stays for more information.

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Sliding Stays

Sliding StaySliding stays are the simplest stays we offer. A bar is fitted with a pivoting foot at one end and a fixed rivet at the other. Between these obstructions can slide another foot consisting of a pivoting part through which the bar slides attached to a mounting plate. When these stays are designed for window casement application they are fitted with a thumbscrew that allows them to be locked in any position. The most common application for these stays is to prevent a chest or box lid from falling backwards. They do nothing to prevent a lid from falling closed. It is not a good idea to use the lockable type in this application as the possibility of spontaneously release exists. The lockable styles are generally only suited to situations where angle adjustment is required, for example the surface of a drafting table or a casement window.

See How To Install Sliding Stays for more information.

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Telescoping Stays

Telescoping StayOur telescoping friction stays were engineered as casement window stays. We find they also make excellent chest stays and drafting table adjusters. Because these stays collapse into themselves they require only minimal free space inside a chest and the internal friction provides a margin of safety against accidental closure. Depending on the size of the lid they are expected to support and the size of stay chosen the friction will allow a lid to remain open in different positions and to close softly with only gentle pressure. The lockable variants can be useful if a chest lid needs to be held firmly open and they are ideal for drafting tables where a suitable angle can be found and held with just the friction and then locked for use.

Our telescoping friction stays also function very nicely as casement window stays. The friction is sufficient to hold a window against moderate wind. Window mounting instructions are enclosed with each stay.

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Traditional Casement Stay

Traditional casement stayThese stays are still in common use in Europe. A pivoting bar with a series of holes drilled along its length is attached to the window and two pins over which the bar can drop are screwed to the casement. When closed the bar lays parallel to the window and spans both pins preventing the window from opening. The window can be opened to a variety of angles depending on which hole is dropped over which pin.

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