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How to Install Butt Hingescomments (11) December 16th, 2010 in blogs
Installing Butt Hinges
Learn Fine Woodworking contributing editor Garrett Hack's time-tested technique for installing what is perhaps the most popular hinge style.
When it comes to searching out a hinge that offers durability, clean looks, and straightforward installation, Garrett Hack feels that "you can't beat butt hinges." While woodworking catalogs offer a wide variety of styles, finishes and sizes, when it comes to fine furniture, Hack opts for high-end brass hinges. Low-cost hinges are made by pressing thin sheet metal around the pin to form the knuckle, which results in a sloppy hinge action. The higher-end extruded hinges are much tighter since the knuckle is fitted together and then drilled in one shot for a more precisely fit hinge. And while steel is certainly stronger, brass hardware generally looks better on fine furniture, developing a pleasing patina over time.
Laying Out the Hinge Mortise
Use marking gauges and a marking knife to make precise layout lines. Take all of your settings directly from the hinge for accuracy.
1.) LAY OUT THE WIDTH
When laying out marks, set the mortise width slightly less than the width of the leaf to the center of the hinge pin, to make the pin and knuckle protrude just a bit.
At times, I mortise the case or the frame first, before they are glued, and then transfer them to the door later. It's easier to work with case pieces loose on the bench than it is to wrestle with a large cabinet. The cabinet picured here, however, is small, so I mortised the door first.
Set the first marking gauge for the width of the hinge. Set it about 1/32-in. short of the center-line of the hinge knuckle. The light pencil lines at the end of the mortise indicate where to stop the marking gauge cut.
2.) LAY OUT THE DEPTH
When making your marks, keep in mind that the goal is to produce very fine lines; heavy cuts will leave a less precise mortise.To see the knife marks more clearly, sharpen a pencil to a very fine point and drag it along your scribed lines.
For situations like the one seen here, where you're marking so close to the edge of the stock, it's much easier to use a smaller, specialty marking gauge made for finer work.
Set a second gauge for the depth of the mortise. If the hinge leaves are tapered, be sure to set the gauge at their thickest point.
3.) LAY OUT THE LENGTH
After scribing the width and depth with marking gauges, lay the hinge in position and cut a precise tick mark at both ends. For small cabinet hinges like these, the safest way to lay out the ends of the mortise is to extend these tick marks with a square.
For larger hinges, like those used in passage doors, it's better to use the hinge itself to lay out the ends of the mortise. Just be careful the hinge doesn't slip while you are marking.
Again, use the hinge itself to set the length of the mortise. Holding the hinge in place, cut tick marks into the corner of the door stile. Then carry those lines across the mortise with a square.
posted in: blogs, how to, Garrett Hack, installing hinges, butt hinges
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