How to Mount Side Rail Hinges
I wonder if perhaps a better title for this post might be “How I Mount Side Rail Hinges.” Once again I’ve commenced with the construction of a spiffy new humidor-and once again I’ve chosen to use side rail hinges with an integrated 95-degree stop and lid-stay mechanism requiring not one mortise, but two: one for the hinge leaves and another for the lid-stay.
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Now, there are about as many ways to install any particular set of hinges as there are…uh…hinges, and my method uses the router table. Some will argue that it’d be a heck of a lot easier to route the hinge leaf mortises using a trim router with an edge guide, but for me, the stability I get from using a router table makes me feel a bit more comfortable with the process. The last thing I want to do is near completion of a complex box, only to muck up the hinge mortises as a result of a wayward router.
Keep in mind that because I’m doing my hinge leaf mortises on the router table, I need to set up a stop block for the first two mortises, and then re-set my stop block for a shallow climb cut for the last two mortises. That’s the tricky part, but by using test pieces, I’ve never had a problem dialing in the position of my mortises using this method.
Routing the double mortises required for side rail hinges with a lid-stay mechanism can be a bit tricky. Here's my step-by-step.
1) I begin by first marking the location of my hinge leaves on the box and lid. I don't want to mistakenly rout the wrong side of the box.
2) Next, I transfer those marks up along the side of the box just a bit. I'll use these marks to align my router table's fence later on.
3) To ensure a nice smooth rout, I attach a new MDF auxiliary fence to my router table's fence. Nice and smooth.
4) After positioning the fence in such a way that the router bit is in perfect alignment with the marks I transferred to the box sides in step 2, I can clamp a stop block in place and start routing.
5) You won't be able to make all four mortises for the lid and base using that one stop block set-up. That's the caveat of my technique. If I were using a small router with an edge guide, I could get everything done at once, but I've chosen to use the router table for stability. That means I'll need to set up a new stop block for a shallow climb cut for the balance of the mortises. Here I've outlined the first two mortises carried out in red. Now let's tackle the final two.
6) I milled up some extra stock to the same thickness as my box sides in order to make test cuts. On the left, you'll see my test cut for the first pair of hinge mortises. And on the right, I made a test cut after re-setting the stop block for my final two mortises. I also took the time to cut this block in half and hold the two mortises beside one another, to visually check that my stop block placement was dead-accurate.
7) Use tape-or better yet, you could use a backer block (just remember to factor that in to your stop block placement)-to support the fibers for the climb cut you'll need to make for the final two hinge mortises. Remember, you're feeding the stock in backwards. That means you're going to get a wee bit of tearout where the bit first enters the wood-unless you back it up.
8) Now rout the final two hinge leaf mortises.
9) Next, I need to rout out the secondary mortise which houses the lid-stay mechanism. For my hinge, I needed to rout this mortise to a depth of 1-in. in both the lid and the box. I began by defining the ends of each mortise over at the drill press.
10) Finally, I followed up with my trim router, mounted with a spiral up-cut bit.