The Woodworking Life

The Woodworking Life

Making a Wooden Hinge for a Box

comments (19) June 6th, 2009 in blogs

Regards_from_Perth Derek Cohen, member
thumbs up 48 users recommend


Here is a pictorial of how I fashioned the wooden hinges for a box I recently built. Note that this hinge is but one of many possible methods and designs. Frankly I do not see it as the prettiest I have designed – but it fitted with the project.

Tools used were predominantly hand tools, but with a sprinkling of power thrown in. I am an equal opportunity woodworker!

We have to start somewhere, and what better than the basic stock ..

Hinge-thestart.jpg picture by Derek50


Set up as if you are to cut a dovetail, but mark out for a box joint instead ..

Hinge-markingwithsaddlesquare.jpg picture by Derek50


Saw merrily ..

Hinge-dovetailsaw.jpg picture by Derek50



Then saw some more ..

Hinge-fretsawing.jpg picture by Derek50

Stop sawing and do some paring instead ..

Hinge-paring1.jpg picture by Derek50


Transfer the marks and saw and chisel some more ..

Hinge-transferingmarkings1.jpg picture by Derek50

I used a brass washer as a template to scribe the rounds for the ends.

Hinge-shaping3.jpg picture by Derek50

 Mark and drill for the steel pivot (I'm going to use a thick gauge nail) ..



Hinge-drillinghole.jpg picture by Derek50

With the nail inserted  ..

Hinge-testfit2.jpg picture by Derek50

Time to get out the rasps to round out the ends … to the scribed circles (from the washer/template).

Hinge-shaping2.jpg picture by Derek50

... and then the inside of the pins (or whatever one calls these on a box joint) ..

Hinge-roundinginside1.jpg picture by Derek50

You should be able to move the hinge at extreme angles ..

Hinge-testfit1.jpg picture by Derek50

Now find something round to use as a template, draw a circle, cut it on the bandsaw, and finish on the disk sander  ..

Hinge-frontshapinground.jpg picture by Derek50

More shaping with rasps ..

Hinge-shaping1.jpg picture by Derek50

Suddenly you have these ..

Hinge-frontcompleted.jpg picture by Derek50

Not quite done. Turn them over and drill a million holes. These will act as keys when the hinges are epoxied to the box. The box gets the same treatment.

Hinge-backholes.jpg picture by Derek50

This is what it was all about ...

Braceinbox-hingesfinished1.jpg picture by Derek50

The hinge could have been plainer, square, a rectangle, thinner. In this design here I attempted to replicate the round and tapered shape on the pad of the brace (below). You can see this feature in the handle of the drawer as well. The options for your design are endless. What all have in common is a variation of a simple box joint.

Braceinbox-finished1.jpg picture by Derek50

Regards from Perth

Derek

June, 2009

 

 



posted in: blogs, box, tool chest


Comments (19)

limnos99 limnos99 writes: The first time I made wooden hinges for a jewelry box, I used the shank of a nail as the pin. I assembled the box and then had to measure and cut parts of each hinge to be glued to their respective wood portions of the box. (i.e. lid & back) The size of the hinge will dictate what size pin you use. When the job is completed, the pin does not show. The most important thing to remember is alignment of the hinge to insure smooth pivoting. The hinge attachment and gluing must occur last. The idea works. I prefer a metal pin in my wooden hinge as it will not bind with changes in humidity. Wooden hinges seem to interest those who do not engage in woodworking.

Posted: 6:48 am on October 12th

Sayed_Mosalem Sayed_Mosalem writes: Great work. but how u make sure that this nail wont release during movement?
Posted: 7:01 am on March 29th

amiliya amiliya writes: I was wondering can this joint be use on round bowls? I am doing a project that has to be completely made of wood but i don't know what hinges to do. there will be two round bowls hinged together at the middle so they can open. If any one has any suggestions as to what I should do please leave comments in reply. Thank You.
Posted: 1:58 pm on November 1st

carvingalong carvingalong writes: I'm real new to this but game to try anything.. these questions will lead to many others but ..what are the finished dimensions of the hinges..what was the thickness of the stock, is there a rule of thumb regarding thickness of stock and length and width of hinge pins..
Posted: 1:01 pm on July 13th

SandyPondFisher SandyPondFisher writes: Your tutorial is great. I was just about to try something like this.
Posted: 10:29 am on February 12th

Jurgen01 Jurgen01 writes: Thanks for the post & the photographs. The chest and the hinges are beautifully done.

I have found that wooden hinges are greatly appreciated by both owners and patrons of art galleries. Indeed, I have often had requests for "a jewelry chest or a box with wooden hinges". Apparently, wooden hinges convey to many people a sense of craftsmanship that metal hinges do not -- this is neither fair nor necessarily appropriate, but it is something I often encounter.

One thing seems sure, though. Wooden hinges can add a nice "organic" feel to some pieces --as is very clearly the case with the chest you have pictured here.

BTW: To those who are inspired by your post to make wooden hinges, I say "Go for it". Usually, one will want to use straight-grained hardwood for the hinges and drill the hinge bore at right angles to the grain. Consider carefully the "moving geometry" of the hinge. Make sure the pins of the hinge do not bind against the case when the hinges are mounted. This is what usually causes some wooden hinges to split apart when the box is opened. There are several steps one can take to avoid this unhappy outcome before any final filing or sanding adjustments.

When you lay out the hinge, measure and cut carefully. The hinge is a variation on a box joint, as this post states, and even though it will ultimately fit more loosely then a box joint, it must be made with the same precision whether cut by hand or with power tools.

Once the hinge pins are cut, drilling the hinge bore is critical. The bore must be dead straight, centered, and square, or the hinge will bind. To avoid problems here, consider these suggestions:
(1) True up your drill press table and fence.
(2) Mark the center of your hinge bore carefully and accurately, marking the distance from the end of the pin to the hinge bore at slightly less than half the length of the pin.
(3) Use the same hinge face as a reference on the drill press fence -- i.e., always drill with the outside face or the inside face of the hinges to the fence. Don't mix them up or the hinges will likely be misaligned when mounted.
(4) Use a sharp brad point drill bit to drill out the hinge bore.
(5) Having carefully marked your hinge bore centers, drill into the hinge from each end of the hinge bore until the bores meet in the middle, rather than drilling all the way through from one side. This will reduce drill-bit drift in the bore, which is one of the most common problems one encounters with wooden hinges. (This single tip will greatly reduce the number of "practice" hinges you cut.)

Finally, when you mount your wooden hinges, consider using a metal rod or wooden dowel that is long enough to go through both hinges when they are spaced for mounting. This will help insure proper alignment on the case. Keeping the center of the rod on the center of the joint between the lid and the case is usually the best way to initially align your hinges.

With practice, it becomes quite easy to make a variety of wooden hinges for various projects, but it will be easier in the long run if you take more time to consider and complete each step of the process as you make your first wooden hinges.

In any event, thanks for the post and the photos. Great work! It shows what beatiful things can be accomplished with a simple box joint.

All the best wishes for you and your woodworking.
Posted: 12:58 pm on August 5th

Regards_from_Perth Regards_from_Perth writes: The hinge pins are made from nails. These were shown in one of the pictures. They are a tight friction fit and will not fall out. I chose not to epoxy them in in casethey need to be punched out.

Regards from Perth

Derek
Posted: 10:11 am on June 26th

BRunner BRunner writes: What did you use for the final hinge pins and how did you hold them in?
Rich
Posted: 1:26 pm on June 23rd

Regards_from_Perth Regards_from_Perth writes: Hi PM

No problem - ask as many questions as you like.

With the lid and base together, the hinges are centred on the line between the lid and base. They were held in place with clamps until the two-part epoxy dried (which took 24 hours).

Regards from Perth

Derek
Posted: 12:07 pm on June 15th

putman66 putman66 writes: Thanks Perth,
After applying the epoxy or glue, how do you insure that the hinges are centered vertically to open correctly, i.e., not too low on the box or not too high on the lid? And, that the pin is parallel to the opening? What is your method for clamping of the hinges until the epoxy dries? I apologize for all of these questions.
Posted: 2:45 pm on June 14th

Regards_from_Perth Regards_from_Perth writes: Hi Pm

The "keys" are drilled into the hinge and the box to form a mechanical joint between the two items. It strengthens the join.

Regards from Perth

Derek
Posted: 9:45 am on June 14th

putman66 putman66 writes: Enjoyed! I've never made a wooden hinge, why are the "holes/keys" drilled into the back of the hinge and the box?
Posted: 11:29 am on June 13th

Regards_from_Perth Regards_from_Perth writes: Hi Jeremy

The Veritas is an excellent dovetail saw - cuts straight and starts easily. I have a few other dovetail saws that cost at least double the Veritas, such as a LN and an IT (sharpened by Mike Wenzloff. The Veritas performs in their price range.

Thanks all for the kind words.

Regards from Perth

Derek
Posted: 6:01 am on June 12th

bcwoody bcwoody writes: Great post thanks. Could not help noticing the Veritas DT saw. Any comments? I recently bought one and I am completely happy with it. Amazing saw - money aside.

Jeremy
Posted: 2:42 pm on June 11th

chetkloss chetkloss writes: Very well done - and nicely documented.
Posted: 10:42 am on June 10th

Zabo2 Zabo2 writes: Very nice hinges and beautiful box. I just completed a small box and made wooden hinges for it also. However the first time I raised the top one of the hinges broke. Thankfully I had just used glue and pegs to install them so I was able to remove them with some careful chisle work. I lost my cool and replace them with some brass hinges. I will try again---Later. It hurts when you lose several hours of work.

ZABO
Posted: 11:44 am on June 8th

Zabo2 Zabo2 writes: Very nice hinges and beautiful box. I just completed a small box and made wooden hinges for it also. However the first time I raised the top one of the hinges broke. Thankfully I had just used glue and pegs to install them so I was able to remove them with some careful chisle work. I lost my cool and replace them with some brass hinges. I will try again---Later. It hurts when you lose several hours of work.

ZABO
Posted: 11:44 am on June 8th

Zabo2 Zabo2 writes: Very nice hinges and beautiful box. I just completed a small box and made wooden hinges for it also. However the first time I raised the top one of the hinges broke. Thankfully I had just used glue and pegs to install them so I was able to remove them with some careful chisle work. I lost my cool and replace them with some brass hinges. I will try again---Later. It hurts when you lose several hours of work.

ZABO
Posted: 11:44 am on June 8th

cwd60tx cwd60tx writes: nice job........I like that! I am going to try to make some for my boxes I make for my cowboy gun carts
Posted: 10:09 pm on June 6th

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