Okay, I was asked to post a how to for the, I guess I’ll start calling it “vanishing” hinge, since it’s not completely invisible. Anyway I struggled with posting this tutorial, because in this instance things went badly, but I think it’s just as important to publish the mistakes as the successes, because that way whoever reads this can see where the pitfalls are. So in the spirit of full disclosure, here goes.
Okay, this tutorial is for 1/2” wood and dowel stock, so the measurements will change if you use a different thickness. In this first picture you can see the 1/2” core box router bit set to a height of exactly .25”
In this next picture, you can see the fence distance set to .3125 from the cutting edge of the bit. This is where I made the first mistake this time, the fence needs to be back a little further than this, probably another 1/16” so the axle of the hinge will be recessed far enough into the box to clear the back of the box when the hinge is eventually flattened down. Later on you will see the problem this caused.
This picture shows the box I’m retrofitting this hinge to with a solid piece of 1/2” oak dowel to show the fit. Again, ideally, the hinge would be recessed 1/16” further into the box.
I use 5 hinge pieces for every box, so these are quite long at 2.5”.
In the next 5 pictures, you can see where I numbered the hinge pieces as I cut them from the dowel, making sure to keep the grain orientation correct with the previously cut pieces.
Each piece is carefully rotated until the grain matches
Here is the steel rod I use for the hinge axle
The rod is cut just short of the depth of the drilled holes in the dowels, in this case, the length of the steel rod was cut to 1” as the holes I drilled were a little over 1/2” deep in each piece that the rod would insert into. It’s important to note that the first and last hinge piece were only drilled on the inside leaving the outside solid for better appearance and also for axle retention.
Here you can see the pieces separated a little showing the axle in between each piece. When you glue the hinge to the channel, glue 3 pieces to one half, and after it dries, the other two pieces to the other half, your choice as to which gets glued to what. Make sure glue does not travel by adding paste wax where you don’t want the glue to go.
Here is where the mistake I made with the depth of the cut for the channel bit me. The holes did not drill perfectly straight because of an issue I discovered with my drill press, which I have now fixed, and when I planed the hinge down flush with the box, some of the axle pieces are showing through. You can see that I also made a mistake in measuring the hinges by not allowing for enough extra material in each dowel piece. After the dowel pieces are cut,they need to be cleaned up to a perfect 90 degree on the shooting board. It’s amazing how fast those little slices build up into a lot of distance over 5 pieces. So be aware of this, you will lose a fair amount of dowel when you shoot them. My hinge wound up being about 1/8” short because of this. This is a shop box to store my hand planes in, so I’m keeping it anyway in spite of the mistakes.
This is what the hinge looks like on the inside of the box.
And finally here’s some video just to keep things interesting.
-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be. http://geraldlhunsucker.com/