Trinket/Shadow Box (Iraq Display) #2: The Hinges

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Blog entry by Sgt_Lobo posted 11-09-2007 05:22 AM 1725 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: One of the main reasons I joined LJ... Part 2 of Trinket/Shadow Box (Iraq Display) series Part 3: Finally completed my first box! »

Well, yesterday I decided to mortise my box to accept the hinges. I don’t have a jig for this, but since they are very small hinges I decided to free hand them with the router and a straight bit. I practiced a couple of times on a piece of scrap and got the depth perfect, then I made my cuts on the box and they turned out great! Next I decided to connect the lid and the box with the hinges and here is where the problems started…

My original plan was to connect the lid to the box, close it, and sand all the edges flush so that everything fit perfectly. After sanding I was going to take everything apart again and then stain and finish all my parts separately. Then after all the finishing was completed I was going to reattach the hinges with the added strength of some gorilla glue to ensure the small brass screws don’t back out over time.

Well, the first problem I had was lining up the lid to the box and attaching the hinges. I attached the hinges to the lid first, then laid the lid on top of the box. Now can anyone tell me how to screw the hinges to the box with the lid shut to ensure they are lined up properly? Well, I sure couldn’t figure it out, so I tried to eyeball it (and I’m sure you all can guess how that turned out). Suffice to say, after attaching the hinges to the box, the lid was crooked. Crooked enough to be very noticeable, but not so much where I could just unscrew it, drill new holes, and screw it back in. If I were to attempt that, the new holes would be too close to the old holes, making very big holes.

So, now what? Well, I pondered this problem for several hours in disgust, then it hit me: I put some glue on some tooth picks and stuffed them in the screw holes and then broke them off. This gave me some more wood to drill against when I reattached the hinges. It worked great too, and on my second attempt, I nailed it and got the lid lined up very nicely to the box.

So then came the next step, sanding around the edges where the lid and the box met to ensure they were perfectly flush. No problems here as the lid and the box were finally mating correctly.

Next I was supposed to remove the hinges again so I could stain and finish the lid and the box separately. Well here is where my second problem occurred. As I mentioned before the hinges are very small (1”X1/2”) and made of soft brass… So when I go to unscrew them I realized that I bunged up the head on some a couple of the small screws. Now I can’t remove separate the lid from the box for finishing, and worse yet, I can’t reinforce the hinges with gorilla glue during reassembly. Oh well, I can still finish with the lid and box connected, so I guess I’ll just hope the hinges hold strong over time…

I would post some pictures, but I didn’t remember to take any. So I guess you all will just have to imagine this blog in your head! I started staining tonight, and so far so good. I will take some pictures and update you all on the progress in the next day or two or three! ;-)

-- Sgt_Lobo -- Aurora, CO

5 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4219 days

#1 posted 11-09-2007 05:57 AM

Oh yeah…the joy of small brass screws and hinges. I feel your pain, Sarge!

I wish I had some great tips to make it easy, but I have the same issues. I do find that it gets easier with practice. And as far as messing up the screw heads, it helps to drill pilot holes large enough so that it doesn’t take too much torque to drive the screws.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4100 days

#2 posted 11-09-2007 07:13 AM

The first time I used small brass screws I learned the same lesson. I get some of the “silver” screws of the same size, a small packet costs around $1. Use them to thread the hole after predrilling and for using to fit it all up temporarily. Only use the finish screws at the very end for the final install.

It sounds like you are on your way to a greater understanding of woodworking through this project.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4140 days

#3 posted 11-09-2007 01:01 PM

Sarge -

Looks like you worked your way out of a number of difficulties! I was thinking of suggesting the toothpick idea when you went right to it on the next sentence.



View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3963 days

#4 posted 11-09-2007 02:35 PM

Yep, good ol’ trial and error. Lessons learned and never forgotten. Keep on keepin’ on.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2539 posts in 3958 days

#5 posted 11-09-2007 02:36 PM

You took the words right outa my mouth Todd! Only use the screws that came with it at the end so you hopefully never will have to remove them! Small hinges are definatly a pain in the butt!


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