Cabinet hinge placement

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Blog entry by RonPage posted 04-20-2008 04:21 AM 31124 reads 0 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here’s a question for the experts from a weekend warrior:

When I place the hinges on a cabinet door, I put them where they look good to me. As an example, on a 31” tall door by 20 1/2” wide, the top hinge ended up 4 1/4” from the top of the door to the center of the hinge. The bottom one was 5 1/2” from the bottom of the door to the center.

To me, it looks balanced but I started wondering if there’s a formula for proper hinge placement.

Any ideas?

-- Ron, Bakersfield, CA. Measure twice, cut twice anyway.

21 comments so far

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3857 days

#1 posted 04-20-2008 04:41 AM

what kind of hinges?

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3951 days

#2 posted 04-20-2008 04:46 AM

I don’t think so, but it will vary depending also on the thickness of the door.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View RonPage's profile


58 posts in 3663 days

#3 posted 04-20-2008 07:52 AM

Roman…just your basic 2 3/4” cabinet hinge from Lowe’s

Gary…not sure what difference the thickness of the door would make but like most cabinet doors that I or anyone else makes, I use 3/4” stock for the rails & stiles and inset with a 3/8” rabbet. The face would have a cove, roundover, ogee or whatever. How would the thickness possibly make it vary, Gary?

-- Ron, Bakersfield, CA. Measure twice, cut twice anyway.

View RonPage's profile


58 posts in 3663 days

#4 posted 05-02-2008 11:24 AM

110 reads and no opinion from anyone one way or another?

-- Ron, Bakersfield, CA. Measure twice, cut twice anyway.

View mrtrim's profile


1696 posts in 3843 days

#5 posted 05-02-2008 11:31 AM

i always put mine equal distance from top and bottom usually 3 to 4 inches for average kitchen cabs. and in answer to your question , i have never heard of any “formular ” .

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3857 days

#6 posted 05-02-2008 12:14 PM

I place them equall from top down and bottom up when the top rail is the same width as the bottom rail

as a rule and not the exception, I place the top hinge so that the top of the top hinge of is even with the bottom of the top rail, and the bottom hinge, so that the bottom of the hinge is even with the top of the bottom rail. Should the bottom rail be wider then the top rail which is often the case, I follow the same rules.

Hope that helps

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Tim Pursell's profile

Tim Pursell

499 posts in 3745 days

#7 posted 05-02-2008 12:48 PM

Don’t be too harsh on the jocks that read this & did not reply. With the original info you gave it would be hard to give a simple answer, lots of us (me included) type so slowly it would take too long to reply. As to thickness, it makes a difference, as do style (overlay, inset, slab, raised panel, etc) What type of hinges also impacts on placement. The bottom line is , as far as I know no formula for hinge placement. so many Jocks probably read this blog & wondered too, but not having a good answer, chose to go on to the next post.

It’s great that you put the thought into hinge placement BEFORE you mounted them. mrtrim & roman both have reasonable solutions. I’ve used both methods. When in doubt you can also look at other examples, in your home, at a local furniture store on on the net. see if any look “wrong” & avoid that setup. Mock up Your doors on Your cabinet & try a few placements. If it looks “right” to you—-then it’s right. That’s the beauty of building your own furniture.


View mrtrim's profile


1696 posts in 3843 days

#8 posted 05-02-2008 01:03 PM

well said tim, i guess i dont put as much thought into it as i dont often use hinges that you can see . i think romans method makes good sense to me also . i guess one thing you would certainly want to avoid is haveing a screw end up right where the stile and rail meet . well now im late for work ! lol

View SteveKorz's profile


2134 posts in 3677 days

#9 posted 05-02-2008 03:26 PM

I do the same, 3-4 inches from the top or bottom, depending on the size of the door (it would only be less if the door was really small). I DO NOT like dividing the cabinet door into thirds, like I’ve seen some do. I feel that the door has the potential to sag over time… I wouldn’t get into that habit. I’ve never heard of a specific formula, just what I think needs to go where, according to my “eyeballing it” rule. I think the heavier the door (the thicker the door, solid panel, etc), the closer the hinges need to be to the edges to avoid sag or hinge stress….. just my opinion.

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3838 days

#10 posted 05-02-2008 03:43 PM

Most hinge manufacturers won’t even specify a weight capacity for their hinges. So first, you have to figure out how many hinges you are comfortable with for the weight of your door. Of course, a really wide door will put more stress on the hinges than a narrow door of the same weight. After you’ve decided on the number of hinges, it’s pretty much an aesthetic issue like the others have said. Usually 3-4 inches from the edge looks right, then evenly space the remaining hinges. If you are looking for a formula, you might try 10% of the height of the door, or 1½ times the height of the hinge, but verify that it looks right before drilling the holes!

-- -- --

View odie's profile


1691 posts in 3803 days

#11 posted 05-02-2008 03:55 PM

I could answer this easier if you would cover up … you hunk. You made it right ? Do what I do … what ever you like … sounds about right to me. Just for G.P. I will (by accident) do what Peter does.

-- Odie, Confucius say, "He who laughs at one's self is BUTT of joke". (my funny blog)

View OutPutter's profile


1199 posts in 3954 days

#12 posted 05-02-2008 04:52 PM

I use the principal that the average eye knows what looks good even if it doesn’t know why. Either we are trained from birth to respond to symetry, beauty, or whatever you want to call it, or, we’re born with a natural appreciation for things like that. Take for example the natural shape of our favorite flora, a tree. When not interfered with, a tree will usually grow in a symetric fashion and will look “good”. When a tree doesn’t display a symetric shape, I will usually assume there is something wrong.

Assymetry can also be beautiful so, don’t get me wrong.

If you want to use your eye to decide, I think you’ve taken the best approach. If you do enough research, I’m willing to bet someone has “quantified” the symetry of cabinet doors.

Good luck on all your future doors,

-- Jim

View jm82435's profile


1285 posts in 3705 days

#13 posted 05-02-2008 05:45 PM

I don’t particularly like to see hinges at all. I like to use European cup mount or knife hinges you don’t see anyway. From a practical view I position them as close to the corners as possible without interfering with operation (as mentioned before less stress on the hinge the closer they are to the corners). I use a jig I made years ago to locate the mortises from the corner of the door, works the same for top, bottom left and right hinges. IMO If you are showcasing the hinge, positioning the hinge becomes part of the artistry like the material / type of hinge to use. ( no formula)

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2008 posts in 4369 days

#14 posted 05-02-2008 07:15 PM

Hinge Spacing: balanced, the same, spaced beautifully, pleasing to the eye. How do you put a formula to that? Maybe use the Golden Rectangle rule. Karson wrote about that awhile back, and a few othes before that. I use on furniture proportions, seems to always “work out.”

You don’t have enough information here to give you a thorough answer. What type of hinge, what type of door, how heavy is it, is it plywood, or hardwood, what’s the service of the door, etc.

I just usually line up a hinge about 2” from the top and the bottom. but at times I’ve used 1.5”, other times 3”, or 3.5”. It’s an eyeball thing for me, as long as they are the same on the doors in that project.

For a cabinet shop, I can tell you how they space them: whatever the shop made fixture is that they have in the shop that somebody built years ago in a hurry because they were late on a job. The same fixture is still being used.

On a 31” door, I might put in three hinges if the door was large, or heavy, or was to get a lot of use like the drink glass door in a kitchen. I saw a calculation chart on the number of hinges based on door size one time, it might have been on Rockler’s website. You might try searching for hinges on their site, and then look for the “additional information” type button. I think that is where I found it a few years ago. I don’t think I read it though.

Also, before you insult those you are trying to get an answer from, you might get your answer first. “Please,” and “pretty please” seems to work the best.

Also, the Forum is the place to post questions. The Blog is used like a personal diary that you don’t mind others seeing. I have a few folks that I read their blogs because I like them, others because of what they are showing in the blog, and others because the title looks good. But for every blog that gets posted, maybe 1% of them do I take time to read. I’m sure I’m not alone.

All of us are busy, and thinking that others are sitting around doing the work their bosses pay them to do, waiting on a new question to hit the LJ site is probably expecting too much. Also, give it some time, it takes a few weeks sometimes before the right person will take time to give you an answer.

Still, with over 3000 forum topics already, the chances are slim anymore about finding someone that will take time to sit and type an answer quickly. Of course, if we all got $1 for each response, then you would be overwhelmed. You could consider that, and I’ll send you my paypal account email. My best suggestion is to find a project that is similar to what you are doing, and then send an email to the woodworker personally asking a specific question like what you did about the hinge, and then give enough background so that you can get a thorough answer.

And my last suggestion would be to call the help center of the brand of hinges you are using. They are answering a customer’s question then, and will be motivated to find your answer. But, don’t be surprised if the college intern answering the phone doesn’t know the answer.

Also, if all the Jocks were just “about” commenting on breakfast, we wouldn’t have any photos of projects to post. Sarcasm and insults aren’t usually “door openers” to relationships.

have a good day, I hope this helped a little.

Slightly insulted in Kansas, and hoping we can start our relationship over,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View RonPage's profile


58 posts in 3663 days

#15 posted 05-02-2008 10:50 PM

Thanks for all the great comments! I wasn’t sure if there was a “golden rectangle rule” for placing a hinge or not. The last thing I want to do is screw up a law and have the earth tilt off it’s axis. Eyeball it is :)

-- Ron, Bakersfield, CA. Measure twice, cut twice anyway.

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