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System 32

System 32System 32 is Hettich's 32mm system and is one of the the oldest 32mm systems. What is currently available on Hettich's System 32 (pdf below) is from the front of one of their catalogs (2017). What is presented is a fully balanced panel, system rows are 37mm from the front and back of the panel (balanced rows) and the system row start holes are 1/2 the panel thickness (e.g. 9.5) from the top and bottom of the panel (balanced start holes). The top and bottom system holes are used as construction holes (SAC). I'm not aware of any material that covers how door and drawer faces integrate into this system. The only possible/logical/workable paths to modular 32mm cabinetry is half-overlay or inset cabinetry.

32mm system rows (doors and drawers not covered, see Sys32+)

5093_system_32.pdf System 32.pdf (260KB)


OriginsHettich's 1996 Furniture Hardware catalog says that "System 32 was developed by Hettich of Germany in collaboration with manufacturers of particle board, drilling machinery and cabinets over 25 years ago" (pg 1.2). I don't know when that was first written, but that puts the creation of their system sometime prior to 1971. Most sources claim the 32mm System was developed to help rebuild Europe after the damages of World War II, i.e. post 1945. There is a significant gap between 1945 and 1971 (26 years), but I am not aware of any prior systems.

A difference from this catalog and later ones is that no direct connection is made between system holes and construction holes. While the drawing looks like the system row start hole would fall in the middle of the box bottom, the distance is not specified. This catalog also mentions an 8mm hole "construction joint" (pretty standard), the 2017 catalog examples all use 5mm system holes as construction holes (SAC).

Danny Proulx (isbn 0973186909, pg 5) attributes System 32 to Paul Hettich. According to Wikipedia Paul Hettich GmbH was founded in 1930 and Paul was "lost" in the last days of the war (1945). The source of System 32 is more likely the company, Paul Hettich GmbH AKA Paul Hettich & Co. "Hettich System 32" was a German registered trademark from 1984 to 2015... They registered "System 32" in the US (1985 to 2016).

Modern Cabinetmaking 2016 (isbn 1631260715, pg 750) has a very similar blurb to Danny Proulx's, both attribute the 32mm system to Paul Hettich and followup with Salice having the first Euro hinge patent. Neither provide sources, which could easily be the Hettich and Salice catalogs, and I can only verify the later.

While the Salice catalog mentions their first hinge was patented in 1957 (12 years after WWII), the earliest winged hinge plates (e.g. for system mounting) I found were in the 80s, e.g. Salice's rather complex one (DE patent) and Hettich's simple height adjustable one (patent).

The Hettich history page says that their European hinges were developed in 1962 (DE patent) and didn't supersede piano hinges (developed in 1928 and popular in 1935) until 1980. The first mention of European drawer slides is their Qudaro slides going into production in 1995. A Qudaro drawer slide trademark image was registered from 1986 to 2016.

The earliest Hettich mark I found was for Technik für Möbel (Technology for Furniture), first registered in 1980.
... I'm not sure if it means anything, but the Hafele name/mark was registered in 1965 (interesting aside: Regula knuckle '68 Duomatic euro '07, Rafix '09, Minifix was introduced in '83 with the production of a few thousand per year, hundreds of millions per year by '95, but it wasn't trademarked until 2014).

Anyway, nothing I've found gets the 32mm system origins anywhere close to the end of WWII.

...An article about Techline says that Marshall Erdman (& Assoc.) started using the 32mm system in the '60s, but provides no specifics. His cabinetry line was first sold to Sears in ~'76 then as Techline in '79 (pdf source, trademark says first use was '80).
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