Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hinges are Hinges, Right?

One of the details I deal with when creating furniture, is what is the correct hardware for the piece. This often includes hinges. It may sound strange but there are lots of hinges out there to choose from and that choice can enhance or detract from the look of the total piece.

Before the hinge decision can be made, we need to decide on how the door will fit the cabinet. There are three basic fits for a door; inset, overlay and half overlay.

  • Inset doors are inset into the frame so they are flush with the face of the cabinet.
  • Overlay doors are larger than the opening, and the entire thickness of the door can be seen when it is closed.
  • Half over lays are a hybrid. They are sized like an overlay but the inside of the door has a groove (called a rabbet) so that only one half of the doors thickness is seen when the door is closed.

Each of these styles of doors requires a different hinge and that must be determined up front. You must also consider the face of the cabinet as well. Will it have a face frame, or will you go with a faceless cabinet where the door is fixed directly to the sides?

Hinges can be broken down into two major categories; butt and European. Butt hinges are what are on the doors in your house, two plates joined with a hinge pin. Not only are they available for all of the door styles, some their options include:

  • Different widths (for stock thicknesses) & lengths
  • Assorted materials and colors.
  • The tips can be balls, urns (more decorative), simple caps or nothing at all.
  • They may include spring mechanisms to close the door, although generally they don’t.

European hinges are completely different their features include:

  • A range of openings, from 90 up to 175 degrees.
  • They are generally self-closing.
  • They allow for two or three way adjustments that butt hinges don’t.
  • The hinge is hidden when the door is closed.

So now you know that there are more to hinges than you thought. A lot goes into choosing the correct hinge. Style, color, door & cabinet design all must be taken into consideration. And don’t forget, if you buy a cheap hinge, you’ll get cheap results in the long run.