Door and Furniture Hinges

Your choice of hinge will be dictated by such considerations as the type of door, how it is to be fitted – for example, whether it is ‘laid on’ or inset – and what clearance is needed for opening. When planning a piece of furniture, decide on the type of hinge you need before starting work, since some of the specialist hinges are not widely available.

Materials and finishes include mild steel, brass. nylon, aluminium, and shcrardized, japanned and galvanized steel. Heavy duty hinges are also available in malleable iron. Brass is normally used for cabinet work where the hinge is visible.


Most hinges can be used on a left or right-hand opening door, but the self-rising and lift-off types are either right or left. You will need a left hinge if the door opens away from you and the hinge is on the left. If the door opens away from you and the hinge is on the right, you will need a right hinge.

When buying a hinge you need to take into account the thickness of the door and frame, the height and weight of the door and the space available for fixing. Hinges are measured by the length of the leaf and the width of the open leaves.

The most common type of hinge is the butt which is used on entrance doors and. in a lighter version. on cupboard doors. Other types commonly used around the home are flush and backflap hinges. For furniture and cabinet making there are various specialist hinges for different applications.


This is probably the most widely used of all hinges. It has a recessed fitting in both the frame and the door and is available in a range of types.


The leaves cannot be separated. When fitting, fix the hinge to the door first. REMOVABLE PIN This has a ball-tip pin which can be removed to separate the leaves. enabling the door to be removed easily. LIFT-OFF One side lifts right off the pin so the door can be lifted off the frame. Fix the leaf containing the pin to the frame. Specify left or right-hand. RISING BUTT This enables the door to rise slightly when opened to clear carpets and also has a self-closing effect. Fit the rising leaf to the door. Specify left or right-hand.


This works on the same principle as the rising butt, but the door drops slightly as it opens and the hinge therefore has a self-opening effect. It is used when the door is required to stay open unless latched. Fix the falling leaf on the door. Specify left or right-hand.


Used externally, a gate hinge is made of galvanized steel or rust-resistant malleable iron. It consists of a rectangular flap which is screwed onto the face of the frame and an extended triangular flap which is screwed onto the door or gate. The long triangular flap can be fixed very securely to hold even the heaviest door in position.


This is called flush because, when closed, one leaf of the hinge sits flush into the other. This type can be used in almost all situations where a butt hinge might be used, particularly on folding doors and screens. There is also a lift-off version. It is easily fitted since it does not require recessing.


Designed for doors which fold flat against a wall, the knuckle of this hinge projects beyond the architrave of the door frame permitting the door to swing through 180 degrees. It is recessed into both door and frame. Width size is given as the measurement between the legs.


Used for doors which swing closed, such as saloon-type doors. A single spring hinge allows the door to open one way only; with a double spring unit the door can swing both ways. A spring hinge should not be recessed.


A tri-sectioned hinge which enables panels of a screen or foldaway door to open in either direction. It is fitted by recessing. Since the hinge has knuckles at both edges, it is essential the thickness of the door equals the distance between the pins.


Similar in most respects to a butt hinge, the back-flap is stronger because of its wider leaves and can be used in places where there is no width restriction, such as on table and bureau flaps and box lids. Both leaves of the hinge should be recessed.


Dovetailed flaps give this hinge extra strength. Used for counter tops or tables with lift-up flaps, it has a double throw action which allows the flap to lie flat along the counter or table top. It is fitted by recessing.


Widely used in cabinet making on the flaps of occasional tables, desks and similar items, the card table hinge can fold back on itself like the counter hinge. It is fitted by recessing.


This is designed for use on drop-flap tables with a rule joint. The countersinks are on the opposite side to the knuckle so the knuckle can be sunk into the table top. One hinge leaf is longer than the other and it is this one which is fixed to the table flap. Both leaves are recessed.


This hinge differs from other flap hinges in that it allows a flush joint in both the closed and open positions. The longer hinge leaf is recessed into the flap of the table.


This is used for hingeing long lids such as those on chests. It comes in standard lengths of 840mm and can be cut to the length required. It can be recessed for a neat finish. Larger lengths are available.


This type of hinge is designed so it is completely concealed when the door or flap is closed. It is fairly expensive but does give a close, well fitted door and a professional finish to cabinet work. There are two designs, the mortise and the cylinder. MORTISE This hinge is very strong and has an opening angle of 180 degrees. It is fully recessed and is often used on foldaway doors.


Used for cabinet folding doors, inset or lay-on doors, fall flaps and flush tops, the cylinder hinge opens to 180 degrees. Each cylinder is fitted into a drilled hole and given a tight fit with an adjusting screw; it can be further tightened with a mounting screw.


This type of hinge is widely used on kitchen cabinets; one version has a spring closing system. It opens to about 100 degrees. The boss fits into a milled housing on the door and a base plate is screwed to the cabinet; the hinge arm, which is slid onto the base plate, has screws for adjustment.


This is a strong hinge opening to an angle of 90 degrees with a positive action. The spring-loaded type holds the door in the closed and open positions and can be used to hinge and hold open small lift-up flaps in the horizontal position without a locking stay. The unsprung type allows a door to move freely through 90 degrees. The two types can be used together to give the required staying power on a wardrobe or cupboard door. They can be used for lay-on doors, inset doors and where two doors are fixed on one centre fitting. The lay-on type of hinge is simple to fit since you lay it onto the surface.


Attached to the exterior of a cabinet, the highly polished brass finish makes this hinge a decorative feature. It is used where the door surfaces are curved vertically along the butt edge. It may be partially recessed into the door and frame.


This is a decorative hinge which fits on the outside of a cabinet door. It is available with a brass or chrome finish or in an antique style.


This allows easy removal of a cabinet door for cleaning or repainting. It can be used for inset or flush doors or it can be side-mounted for lay-on doors 13-19mm thick. The exposed pivot is often domed to make a decorative feature. Specify left or right-hand.


Cranked hinges give extra clearance when opening a door, which makes them useful for cupboards containing drawers or pull-out shelves. Since they are cranked to specific thicknesses, check the thickness of the door and frame before buying. They do not need recessing.

SINGLE CRANKED This is a flush hinge with one cranked leaf. The crank is fitted to the door and the straight leaf to the frame. Extra support is given by the crank and by the screws entering the door from two directions. It can be fitted to a flush or lay-on door. By fitting the crank to the frame and the flap to the door, it can be used as a flap hinge.

DOUBLE CRANKED This has two cranked leaves, giving extra support on both frame and door and making it particularly suitable for lay-on doors or flaps of melamine-coated chipboard.


This hinge enables two doors to be hung from a centre stile so they can both be opened simultaneously to 90 degrees or so one door can be opened to 180 degrees and lie in front of the other. The hinge has a knife edge to facilitate positioning into the centre stile; screw holes for fastening in the stile are drilled through stile and hinge after fitting. A single version is also available.


A pivot hinge, sometimes known as a semi-concealed hinge, is widely used in home woodwork. It is fitted to the top and bottom of lay-on doors and is supplied in pairs consisting of one left-hand and one right-hand hinge since the hinge at the bottom is reverse hand to the one at the top. The hinges allow a door to open to 180 degrees within the frame; they can therefore be used on closely butted cabinet doors, since they allow the doors to be opened without fouling each other. Some models of hinge have a friction washer which holds the door open at any position. This hinge does not need recessing.


This is a type of pivot hinge used for doors which cannot be fastened at the butt edge. Centre hinges are recessed into the top and bottom of the door.

Hinges are fitted in one of three ways – recessing, housing or surface-fixing – depending on the door and type of hinge. In some cases a combination of two methods is used, but certain basic rules apply to the fitting of all hinges. Carefully plot the proposed positions of all the hinges to be fitted before making any attempt to form recesses or housings or drill pilot holes for screws. Place each hinge in the required position and trace round the outline of each hinge leaf onto the door and frame with a pencil. Always hang a door with at least two hinges. making sure they are placed at an equal distance from the centre; there is no rule about how far in from the top and bottom edges the hinges should be. but avoid PLACING them too near these edges or the centre. If extra hinges are required, such as on a very large or heavy door, they should be equally spaced between the top and bottom hinges. All hinges should be positioned within the same plane on the door and frame respectively, with the knuckles or pivots all in a straight line. You CAN use a gauge to set the width of the recess in order to get the knuckles in position.

– Drill all necessary pilot holes before doing any fixing, using the hinge flaps as a drilling template.

– Fix the appropriate leaf of each hinge to the door or flap, then screw the other leaf of the top and bottom hinges to the frame or table top, followed by any intermediate hinges.

– Use only countersunk screws unless other types are recommended by the manufacturer. Be sure to use the screw gauges specified for the hinge.


Hinges fitted by recessing include butts, backflaps, parliament, counter and screen hinges. When fitting butt hinges in an entrance door the hinge is let equally into the door and frame. On cupboards and cabinets, however, you need to take into account whether the door is ‘laid on’, flush or inset. LAY-ON When the door is laid onto the frame, the hinges can be let equally into the door and frame; alternatively you can let the knuckle into the door. This is usually done if there is a bead along the edge, so the hinge knuckle lines up with it. To do this cut sloping recesses in both frame and door. FLUSH IF the door is set between the frames and is flush with them, let the hinge equally into door and frame.

INSET Where the door is fitted between the frames but set back from the face, the butt knuckle is let completely into the door; but a sloping recess is cut into the door only. So the door can swing through 180 degrees, the centre of the knuckle should be halfway between the door face and the front of the frame.

RISING BUTT When fitting rising butt hinges on a door, chamfer the top edge with a plane on the hinge side. This will allow the door to rise without binding on the jamb.


This is the easiest method of fixing. Simply place the hinge in the required position on the surface of the two parts to be hinged, mark and drill pilot holes and screw into place. Decorative face-fixing hinges are fixed on the exterior surface of the door and frame. Surface-fixed hinges include flush, pivot. spring, gate, face-fixing, cranked and H hinges.


Hinges with bulky mechanisms, such as invisible hinges, are fitted into a recess shaped to fit the mechanism. An irregular shape will have to be chopped out with a mortise chisel. In the case of a cylinder hinge a stopped hole is drilled or milled out with an end mill. Final fixing is with countersunk screws.

END MILL An attachment for use with any electric drill, the end mill will make stopped holes in veneered or coated chipboard, softwoods and hardwoods. It has a milling or grinding action rather than a boring one; as it rotates, the mill grinds away the waste in virtually powder form and you should exert only enough pressure to maintain a constant flow of the waste. For the best results, use the end mill with a drill stand and take care not to overheat the mill when working on hard-surfaced mclamine or laminates.

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