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Thread: Hinge installation on small box, misalignment problems

  1. #1

    Hinge installation on small box, misalignment problems

    I am struggling when installing hinges on a small box. The box is glued up and assembled as one piece, and I cut the lid off on my table saw. As a result, the lid lines up with the bottom perfectly.
    When I install the hinges, I cannot get the alignment correct and as a result, the lid won’t align with the base.
    Is there a trick to setting up and installing a hinge to avoid this problem? The smallest mistake with screw placement and the alignment of the lid to the base is wrong.
    Thanks in advance.
    Scott

  2. #2
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    I find that using a self-centering drill bit ensures that the screws go exactly where I intend, and so the hinge goes where I intend. Here's some examples -- https://www.rockler.com/rockler-inst...0aArxlEALw_wcB

  3. #3
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    When I want the lid and bottom to match up I glue them in place and mark them with a sharp knife.
    I do the bottom first separate from the top. Good Luck
    Aj

  4. #4
    If you let in the hinges, they will keep their position even if the screws are not perfectly centered.

  5. #5
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    I agree with Cameron's post. Poor quality hinges can also drive you nuts. If the mortises are well placed and things don't line up I would look to the hinge quality.
    "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups." - George Carlin

  6. #6
    Brusso hinges are very good, but expensive. I use the JB-102 on small boxes.

    I have a tutorial on box making. The setting of the hinges are here.

    Mike
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 11-28-2022 at 1:22 PM.
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    The barrels of any hinges, for the ones that have barrels, need to align as closely as possible to perfectly with each other. I use a straightedge. Installing three on 10'x10' barn doors, the closest thing to a straightedge I had that long was an aluminum concrete screed. That worked fine and the huge doors open and close smoothly. For tiny hinges, you can use a smaller straightedge.

  8. #8
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    Thanks Mike, you remind us to work carefully if we want a good result.

  9. #9
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    Mike, I've bookmarked both of those links. Thanks!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
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    For boxes, I try to use Brusso hinges, as they sell a brass jig for each hinge which holds both the box halves with a spacer in the middle representing the setback of the hinge barrel.

    You can make your own with some scrap plywood and spacers or cards, then mark the hinges with a marking knife. Obviously, the marks should align precisely for the two halves. The set back can not be so aligned and it is required to measure from the outside of the back of the box to the edge of the hinge, and again, obviously, those two measurements should be the same for both halves. I find it easier to set hinges with hand tools, instead of a router.
    Regards,

    Tom

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    I use two pieces of scrap wood to screw the hinges to without mortising. I do use a self centering bit to make the holes. With both hinges screwed to the scrap pieces of wood I make sure they open and close smoothly. If not I start over. If they do, which is pretty much 100% of the time, I remove one of the two pieces of wood and then transfer the hinge locations to the box. Once mortised I screw the hing to the box with the scrap on the other side of the hinges and make sure it works smoothly. Then I unscrew it from the box, screw the hinges to the second scrap, remove the first scrap, and then mark the lid for mortising. By doing it this way I can identify a problem easily. I'm sure Brusso hinges are great but normally I can't justify their price. So learning how to work with less expensive hinges is a must. That includes occasionally tweaking them to make them work.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
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    I took an hour out of my day to read Mike's blog on his box. It was really great, and I thank him for the detailed instructions and great photography!

    Each Brusso hinge has its own template which one can cut both the top and bottom mortises for the hinges at the same time with the same set up, eliminating most alignment errors. I use Brusso hinges almost exclusively, as they are dead flat and square out of the box and fit perfectly first time, every time. There is no comparison with the cheap Chinese hinges which are often not flat (requiring one to flatten it by hammering or in a vise) nor square, so the hinge opens cock-eyed (no fix for that) and the screws are super soft and cheap and easy to break.

    I also buy the template as it clamps the top and bottom together for perfect alignment without measuring. I have too much time in my boxes to make a mistake with the stupid hinge. So an extra $100 in hardware and templates make sense to me. Ask Brusso, and they'll send some extra starter screws and a few extra brass screws at no extra charge.

    One note--if you buy your own starter screw at the local hardware store, it may not match your brass screw in exact diameter nor thread pitch. The Brusso ones are exact matches.
    Regards,

    Tom

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    All above are good things to check. Aligning the pins is important. Checking the bottom alignment of the box after cutting it apart is very important. The box may have some built in tension in it. When you cut it guess what happens. I try to do my hinge layouts very accurately. When Ii install the hinge I put one screw on the end of one leaf and one screw on the opposite end of the other leaf. Check the fit. You can tap the hinge gently and get some minor adjustment. Than use a self centering bit for the other screws. For myself I like to use Soss hinges. I must like punishment because not much forgiveness in a Soss hinge. I do buy good hardware like Brusso for regular hinges.
    Too much play in others.
    Jim

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