Claremont Designs

Fitting Non-Mortise Hinges to a Sideboard

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I’m finally getting to some of the final steps of finishing off the sideboard base that has been occupying one of my workbenches for the better part of a year. In the previous post, I described how I wrapped the doors with a thin strip of walnut to improve the gap that surrounds the doors on either side of the buffet. The last challenging step in the build is to align the hinges. I almost always use non-mortise hinges, so the only real challenge is to locate the screw holes as perfectly as possible – easier said written than done. I start by installing the hinges to the base of the cabinet, and then I transfer reference marks to the door. The marks don’t go directly where I will drill a pilot hole, so it is a little more complex.

To start the process I locate the door in the opening, with the hinges completely open. I also make sure to use a spacer, so that there is a gap at the bottom of the door. I then “close” the hinges so they rest against the face of the door frame. From here, I mark the holes in the hinge. Next it is a lot of work with a square and a depth gauge. First I mark the top and bottom of the hole and then I transfer those reference marks to the side of the door. I then go back to the hinge and use a sliding depth gauge to determine the front and back reference mark for the hinge hole opening. Because the hinge allows for a little adjustment, I should be good as long as I get the pilot hole somewhere within the opening, but I take an extra step. I connect the corners and draw an X to locate the center of the hole. Ultimately this is where I will drill my pilot hole for the screw.

The photos below show all of the reference marks and the doors installed to make sure that no other adjustments are required. Next step is to finish the 220-grit sanding, break all of the sharp edges, install the knobs and pulls, and apply several finish coats of an oil urethane blend.

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