23 Aug The World of Hinges
A look at these original swingers
The success of a cabinet installation partially hinges on… hinges. It’s those metal things that attach the doors to the frame. According to the Encyclopedia of Hardware, hinges are available in a seemingly infinite variety. However, there are ways to distinguish them from each other. For instance when you see hinges listed as “handed” it’s a term that simply specifies whether the hinges are designed to go on the left or right side of the door. Thankfully, most hinges are interchangeable and knowing the difference between the two really only matters in special situations. In most cases all you need to do is flip the hinges over to accommodate either a left or right handed slot, so there is rarely an issue.
Naturally, there are various sizes of hinges made to accommodate an endless variety of uses. Cabinet doors, for instance, would require the much smaller configurations. The factors that need to be considered when it comes to selecting the appropriate hinges include the thickness of the door, weight and clearance. To make the choice easier, you probably could just ‘eye’ it. If a hinge appears to be in proportion to the door you intend to use it on, go for it. All that may be needed is a bit of common sense. If you’re looking at an exterior door, obviously tiny hinges won’t suffice. But neither would those that are extra-large. You’ve probably been around doors all your life so it’s probably safe to trust your intuition in these matters.
The truth is even if you selected hinges that are too small it wouldn’t cause much trouble. Hinges are so durable it is estimated that they are more than eight times stronger than necessary for their average purpose. But ultimately, the thickness of the door should dictate the size, weight and number of hinges needed. Of course, having a bit of knowledge of the type of hinges and their uses is helpful.
For instance, the butt hinge is typically used for interior and exterior doors because of its neat appearance. It is comprised of two metal plates with screw holes that are connected by a pin or metal rod that, when removed, separates the pieces. This feature is designed to promote easy action when removing the door.
The T-hinge, meanwhile, is named for the shape that resembles the letter. In this case, the horizontal part of the ‘T’ goes on the door frame, and the vertical section is attached to the door with screws. These are most commonly used for garage doors, chest lids and other related utility jobs. They are also available in an endless assortment of ornamental designs.
When a hinge is needed to be attached to a center – so the door/lid can swing either way – the strap hinge is used. It’s comprised of two narrow leaves of equal size that extend from a single ‘knuckle” (the hollow circular part at the joint through which a pin is passed). They, too, are available in many sizes as well as in plain and galvanized steel. For boats finished strap hinges are commonly made in bronze.
When you explore the world of cabinet hinges it’s interesting to note that there are different types designed per style of cabinet. Specifically, hinges are made for three designs:
- Lipped – when a lip has been cut completely around the door. A knob or pull is necessary to open it and specially designed lipped face frame hinges are used to attach it to the cabinet box.
- Overlay – Cut larger than the opening so that the doors edges rest on the cabinet frame. It uses pivot style hinges mounted at the top and bottom of the door, with portions of each bent and screw-mounted to the frame.
- Flush – the door sits inside flush with the frame. These use butterfly hinges (opened they resemble the shape of a butterfly) that can be used with flush or cabinet lid applications only. Often made of brass, they portray an authentic decorative touch.
Also available for each of the door types is a self-closing hinge. It has a light spring inside that facilitates the mechanism. Other hinges vary widely in thickness and style. Often manufacturers provide installation instructions with their products. You may also find them in a variety of finishes such as chrome, antique copper, black, and plated or pure brass. Keep in mind that you’ll want to match the finish of the hinges to that of your knobs and pulls.
The possibilities are broad enough in the world of hinges that anyone is able to fulfill their wish for design. With manufacturers worldwide, you can find a hinge that perfectly accommodates any style you have chosen.