Krenov-inspired cabinet #2: Knife hinges

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Blog entry by Al Navas posted 06-16-2008 02:03 PM 3810 reads 2 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: The doors Part 2 of Krenov-inspired cabinet series Part 3: Overlapping rabbets to fit the doors »

For the hand tool users: If you have any suggestions on how I could improve my chisel technique to chop the mortises, please let me know ;-) – THANKS!

From my blog post:

In this episode I show how I did the layout and chopped the mortises for the knife hinges in the doors, and in the carcase. Then, for the first time, I do a dry fit of the frame and panel doors to the carcase.

The knife hinges provide an elegant solution in this cabinet, because they are unobtrusive; they remain hidden for the most part, with only the heel showing a fraction of the hinge. They are seen only when we open the doors.The tricky part of using this type of hinge is the layout: The more accurate the layout, and the more accurately we cut the mortises for these hinges, the better they appear once we finish chopping the mortises. The secret (I can’t remember where I read it) is to cut inside the dimension of the hinge, and then enlarge the mortises to final dimension when we reach at least half the final mortise depth. This ensures a tight fit; on the other hand, if we start at full mortise width, we run the chance of ending with sloppy mortises, much wider than the hinges.

Chopping the mortises using hand tools, primarily sharp chisels and a small hammer, is a pleasurable experience. This is the time to take our time, and do a good job, for the reward is nice-looking, and tight-fitting mortises around the hinges. I found myself taking breaks, both planned and unplanned, during the time I was chopping the hinges. Planned, to allow me to retain my concentration, and unplanned due to powerful storms that swept through our region. But over the course of two days I finished the eight mortises, with total time of about 6 hours on the 8 mortises. Remaining patient is absolutely key, to make it a pleasure to do this job. Turn on some jazz, or whatever favorite music you enjoy, and get it done!



-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

3 comments so far

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3920 days

#1 posted 06-16-2008 07:04 PM

Hey Al. The video was very informative. The cabinet is beautiful to!


-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View Al Navas's profile

Al Navas

305 posts in 3899 days

#2 posted 06-16-2008 11:39 PM


Thanks! That was my intent, hoping to share some information with my fellow Lumberjocks.

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

View Grumpy's profile


23997 posts in 3875 days

#3 posted 06-17-2008 12:30 AM

Thanks for sharing Al

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

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