Another day is gone, and it is back into the shop for the evening…................
We have sanded our stem hinges, and it is time to make the hinges functional. Before we drill the rod into the hinges, I verify how I want the cover to open. In this project I want the cover to open a little more than 90° so the cover won’t flop over on it’s own when the cover is opened. This requires a little more thought when completing the final step for making these hinges.
I start out with a dry fit of the assembly. Once I am satisfied with the appearance it is time to drill & set the rod. I use a small common nail that measures .048 Ø with the micrometer.
In order for the nail to press fit into the hinge without damaging the wood, the hole needs to be drilled out .006 to .010 smaller than the nail diameter. If the wood is really hard it would be good idea to drill a hole in a test piece in order to gauge how tight the nail fits. Better to be safe than break the hinge. Using a number drill index you will find it very easy to drill the right size for the fit. The next step is to determine the exact center of the hinge so it will pivot correctly. This is a very important step.
Once the location for the pivot hole is determined we need to set up the drill press. Since we are going to use the .048 Ø nail we measured, we will need to use an .042 Ø drill bit. It is important to note that your drill press & vise must be perpendicular, other wise you will not drill a straight hole. I mount the hinge assembly in the vise, and verify that the hinge is perpendicular to the vise before drilling the hole. Once the drill is aligned to the pivot location I slowly drill the hole with small pecking motions to clear the wood chips frequently. If you rush drilling a hole this small the drill will walk, and the hinge will be ruined. Small pecking motions will keep the drill straight, and you will be happy with the end result. There is no need to rush this step, so take your time.
After drilling the press fit size hole I separate the hinge assembly, and I will use a .052 Ø drill on the center tab of the stem side hinge. This will make the rod tight on the outer two tabs of the base side of the hinge, and loose on the stem side side of the hinge. Before we assemble the hinge we will need to radius the hinge edges so the hinge will have a limited operating range. We only want the cover to open slightly past 90°, so we need to radius the inside edges of the stem & base hinge tabs.
Press the rod into the assembly, and test the motion. Once you have the hinge working properly you can finish sand the piece. At this point it would be a good idea to cut the rod off and sand the rod edges flush to the base hinge. I left my rod intact, and cut it off later. It is harder to do, so I would not advise doing it later unless you are confident with your woodworking skills.
We are finally ready to mount the stem hinges to the cover. I drill the pilot holes needed for the brass screws. Once done with the pilot holes I glue the hinge inlay and install the screws carefully. When starting the screw into the work I always face the slot at 12:00 so the slots will come out parallel when they bottom out. I like the appearance on the cover when the slots of the screws all face the same direction. Maybe it is a neurotic tendency, but since I am making the cover I will do it anyway.
Once the stem hinge side is installed, we need to align the cover for the base hinge installation. I use a piece of paper to act as a spacer when putting the cover on. This allows the perfect amount of clearance to ensure the cover always closes flat to the base of the box. We clamp the cover, and drill the pilot holes in the base. The final step is to install the screws to the base.
The best part of the whole project is when we open the cover for the first time. It works wonderfully, so I can move onto the Tung Oil finish. This will really make the red cedar pop on the maple cover.
I am pleased with the look of the cover, and I enjoyed sharing this project with y’all. The project illustrates how a modern laser can be utilized for many elements of a woodworking project. Ultimately, we are only limited by our own creativity. There are some purists who may not agree with this tool being used in the wood shop, but it still takes a craftsman to make art!