Shaped Wooden Hinges #3: "Bear Claw" Style Hinges

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Blog entry by littlecope posted 08-09-2012 11:51 AM 4484 reads 5 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: The Cutting Part 3 of Shaped Wooden Hinges series no next part

Some folks had expressed interest in the way to make these… this is how I do them…
It’s going to be a long one so, settle in, make sure that you’re in your comfy chair, and with your favorite beverage within reach…
I’m currently making two small boxes and have the first one up to the point where its nearly ready to close up.I'll close it up next...

So my attention turned to the two pairs of hinges I’ll need…
Since the top and bottom panels are Mahogany, I thought it would be good to continue the idea with more Mahogany for the hinges… Although a poor drawing and picture, the hinges will resemble this…An idea for some hinges...

Searching around in the scraps, I came across a piece that will work perfectly. The first step, a very important one, was to joint one surface. This will ultimately be the surface against the box sides and must be flat!Jointing a flat surface...
I’m going to be boring holes through this piece for the hinge pins. This time, it was decided to use 3/16” wooden dowel for the pins…
Not to jump ahead (but it’s actually necessary), I’ll also need a slightly larger drill in hand for the free-floating, top half of each hinge… The bottom ones are press-fit, the top slip fit… These larger holes were also drilled in the necessary parts, at this time…
After determining an appropriate barrel size (using the larger size drill as a guide), I set up a makeshift, but firmly attached, fence to the Drill Press…A makeshift, but very firmly attached, fence...
I drilled holes all the way across at 1 1/4” intervals. That will give me enough extra room for the drilling and cutting to come. I can’t stress enough, how imperative it is, that these holes be straight through!! All the rest is window dressing, but the sole of this has to be flat, and the holes have to be parallel to the sole!! I used a 3/16” drill specifically, because it would be less prone to wander in the grain of the wood than a smaller one would…These holes have to be straight, and equally spaced from the edge...
Next, was to draw the side profile. I began by drawing circles for the barrel diameter, using an old Drafting Circle template…Drawing circles first...
And then the “Strap” part was drawn… There is complete freedom in this, but the box for which a particular set is designed, will generally set certain restrictions… I’m going with simple, equal lengths for both sides, and to that end I made a simple template…Then the side view...
And that was the end of the first days work…


I began yesterday by cutting this first, side profile. Since these have to be cut first anyway, I left the block of wood intact. The larger size lets it ride the table better, insuring that these cuts will also be parallel to the base. It’s easier to handle too! I’m asking a lot of my poor old Scroll Saw to cut through 2” of Mahogany…
Of course, I had to drill some access holes for the Scroll Saw first…Drilling additional holes for Scroll Saw access...

Then the cutting began, down the strap side, back it out to the access hole, reverse direction, and cut around the barrel. I do not complete the cuts! I stop, as close as I dare, about an 1/8” from completion… There is still the top profiles to do…
The first, odd one in the picture will be the center one, which will act as the lid-stop for the box…Cutting side profiles...Side profiles cut (almost, but not quite out)...
I won’t need all of these, but in the event of any problems, I’ll have some extra parts at the ready…
With the side profiles all cut out, almost, it’s time to start on the top profiles…
A quick cut on the Table Saw and it’s back to drawing on the board…I now cut that section off the block...

I first transfer the center line of the holes to the top of the piece…Continue pin hole centers to top side

Then I use my template to mark the profiles. Though the template looks rather like pincers, I had one “favorite” of the two that I used exclusively, in the interest of uniformity…Marking using the homemade template...
As you can see, on these sets there are right and left hand sweeps and straight ones too! The right and left hand ones also needed two different size borings… Five unique parts for each hinge…
Before I begin to cut them out, there is one thing left to do. In the end, these will be attached to the box with glue and wooden pegs. The time is ripe, to drill some pilot holes for that… I’ll be using 1/8” dowel to peg them, but like to make the pilot holes a little under-sized using a 7/64” drill…Holes for eventual pins ...

After adding even more holes, again for Scroll Saw access, the cutting out finally begins… I cut the top profile down to the transferred center lines of each group, then remove the piece by completing the side profile… Here first, is the specialized center ones…The specialized middle,straight ones...

After slicing/separating that little plug, I place them immediately on the wooden dowel I’ll be using for the hinge pin this time. Otherwise, I’ll never find them again!I put the pieces in place as they're done...
And the same process is repeated for the other variety of parts…Continuing down...Side profiles finished next...And out they come...Ready to be sliced/separated...

And that’s about it… I still have to take a half round file and clean these up but the rough shaping is all done.Eight hours in, a couple pairs of roughed out hinges...
As I said in Part #2 (quite a while ago!), these are very time consuming, and only you know how much your time is worth. But they’re a lot of fun to make, impressively strong, and add a nice touch to your work… :)
9 August 2012

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

16 comments so far

View ~Julie~'s profile


607 posts in 3062 days

#1 posted 08-09-2012 12:41 PM

Wow Mike, that is amazing! I’ve never done anything remotely like this, so it is interesting to see the steps.
Thanks for taking the time to explain it.

-- ~Julie~

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2948 days

#2 posted 08-09-2012 01:00 PM

I’m with Julie. Wow! Thanks from me too for showing this involved process! I look forward to seeing part 2. :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4429 days

#3 posted 08-09-2012 01:53 PM

Mike nice set of photos are a great blog to go along with it.

Thanks for the design and help.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View patron's profile


13609 posts in 3369 days

#4 posted 08-09-2012 02:26 PM

quite the setup michael

makes the auto industry
look like amateurs

fob watch hinges next

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View littlecope's profile


3071 posts in 3530 days

#5 posted 08-09-2012 08:16 PM

Thanks for your kind words my Friends… They mean a lot to me…
Julie: That’s all it is, is a bunch of little steps… I pondered this, for about a week, until I could see the order of the steps though!! :)
Sheila: Part #2 was already written, but I saw this one up as #1 too… ?? Thanks!! And again, Congratulations to you Guys on making the Cover!!
Karson: I paid the extra, for a set of the good batteries for my camera, over a year ago: and didn’t get to spend 10 minute with it, fixing the resolution, setting the date and such, until this week… I don’t know what-all it is that I do, but I certainly seem to do a lot of it…?
David: I didn’t show the new lighting…New lighting set-up...
Everything is mobile…
I have to push the cords away with my forearms to reach the tools… :)

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View lew's profile


12102 posts in 3783 days

#6 posted 08-09-2012 09:07 PM

This is so neat, Mike!
I would never have thought of drilling all of the holes ahead of time. Makes so much sense, too, because of the flat surfaces.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14173 posts in 4011 days

#7 posted 08-09-2012 09:16 PM

Well done Mike. Fun read and great photo blog.

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View littlecope's profile


3071 posts in 3530 days

#8 posted 08-09-2012 09:36 PM

Lew: Simple is best my Friend, and there is no better time than when everything is still square… It’s like Chess sometimes, thinking a move or two ahead never hurts…
Dan: Glad you enjoyed it Buddy!! Seriously… :)

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3362 days

#9 posted 08-09-2012 11:32 PM

Looks smart and creative at the same time Mike. Looking forward to see how the appear on the box.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2718 days

#10 posted 08-10-2012 01:23 AM

Mike, You continue to amaze me with your ingenuity. I love these hinges!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Roger's profile


20929 posts in 2832 days

#11 posted 08-10-2012 01:32 AM

Like stefang said: very creative, and I’ll add, very interesting

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 2950 days

#12 posted 08-10-2012 02:57 AM

Good to see how your outstanding hinges are made. I like best the shape of the claw placed alternately to each other. The pin (hole) for screw or pin is a really good idea because all you need is to drill in a straight line respective to the pivot point and that will eliminate the work for alignment. Thanks for the idea.

-- Bert

View EMVarona's profile


437 posts in 2864 days

#13 posted 08-10-2012 10:15 AM

That was quite a story board. It held my interest a lot, thinking of what will happen next. Very creative. It probably took a lot of patience and intense work on your part. It’s one of those projects I’d like to try. Congratulations!

-- Ed "Real happiness is one that you share."

View littlecope's profile


3071 posts in 3530 days

#14 posted 08-10-2012 11:25 PM

Stefang: Mike, You may have to wait to see them on a box… On the little boxes that I’m making, these are kind of largish-lookingHinges in place, to see how they'll look...
I’m thinking of re-thinking their use, at least for these boxes… I’m not entirely pleased…
Fortunately, I have the rest of the piece all ready-to-roll for more hinge parts… Maybe two bottom, one top??
Andy: Thank You my Friend, you’re too kind… Have you figured out an easier way to do them yet?!
Roger: Thank You too Sir… It seems like you have already been, everywhere I go on this Site… and always with a kind word or helpful suggestion. It’s people like you who make LJ’s so enjoyable Roger…
Bert: I hope you’re keeping ahead of the rains my Friend…
When I drilled the pivot pin holes, I even took a file to the “Out” side of each hole, one by one, as I drilled them…I file the "Out" side of each drilled hole...
That way, the chip-out doesn’t kick it out of square…
I also swept the fence and table of the drill press each time. The littlest wood chip can do the same thing!
Ed: I hope that you decide to give them a try! If you decide to, and have any questions, PM me and I’ll help you if I can…
Many thanks, again, Everybody… :)

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2718 days

#15 posted 08-11-2012 01:08 AM

Mike, Not yet but I’m still trying. The fact that they are shaped on 3 sides is the tricky part. May have to crack out my antique scrollsaw!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

showing 1 through 15 of 16 comments

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