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Looking for advice on installing butt hinge on a small box

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Forum topic by MassMatt posted 10-31-2016 08:11 PM 1278 views 1 time favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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MassMatt

16 posts in 998 days


10-31-2016 08:11 PM

Topic tags/keywords: box hinge box troubleshoot help tips

Hello all – I’ve worked to finish my first box project – when installing the butt hinges all looked good until I did final tighten down – now the box wants to be very slightly open (1/16 inch or so) rather than sit flush/closed. I’m sure that this is something I’m doing obviously wrong/off – but don’t have enough experience to know what it is. Screws are all fliush with the hinge so nothing looks proud – but where have I gone off?


14 replies so far

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

1685 posts in 1055 days


#1 posted 10-31-2016 09:36 PM

Chances are the hinges are morticed too deep. If everything is flus the hinge leafs make contact just as the lid seals. If they are set too deep, the leafs contact before the lid closes and you start to bend the hinge as you close the lid further.

You can shim the hinges higher by placing appropriately shaped pieces of paper or thin cardboard underneath the hinge leafs.

View jerryminer's profile

jerryminer

798 posts in 1274 days


#2 posted 11-01-2016 04:28 AM

I think your box is “hinge bound”—meaning the hinges (or the hinge side of the box) bottom out before the lid closes completely.

You can shim as splintergroup suggests, or, if the hinge is thin enough, you can adjust the “swaging” of the hinge (the offset between hinge knuckle and hinge leaf) by bending—slightly—the hinge leaf.

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

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MassMatt

16 posts in 998 days


#3 posted 11-01-2016 10:51 AM

Thank you splintergroup & jerryminer - incredibly helpful. As no good deed goes unpunished – let me ask more questions!

I will attempt the shimming you’ve described as one of the moritses looks very slightly nonflush between the top of the box leaf and the edge of the box itself. I suspect there’s also a contribution of where I positioned the barrel of the butt hinge (nothing like doing something for the first time!). I imagine that if the hinge is perfectly flat when closed – barrel positioning wouldn’t cause this issue. If hinge has a taper when closed (is that a thing – unfortunately now at work without ready access to the box at the moment) – then I would want barrel fully outside of the box. The videos I’d been most using were Matt Kenney and Doug Stowe on Finewoodworking – but both are using the same brusso stopped hinge – so in that case barrel has to clear box otherwise stop mechanism gets hunge up. Since mine didn’t have the I set it up so barrel of my butt hinge is half int the body of the box/lid, and half exposed (hope that makes sense).

Thanks all – I really appreciate your time and guidance!

View Bermuda_Les's profile

Bermuda_Les

152 posts in 1062 days


#4 posted 11-01-2016 11:33 AM

Hi MassMatt,

The Brusso hinges are the best in the business IMHO, so most likely it’s the mortise that’s the issue as splintergroup and jerryminer have pointed out. I spent many years building custom presentation cases for firearms, some of these are in my projects on this site. and what I found to be truly a help was the acrylic routing templates for these small hinges. If your setup is good, it will be a breeze.

As you are new to this, I know how frustrating this can be, but like everything it takes a little practice to nail it. For now, shimming your mortises is your best bet. I would suggest making your shim out of the same material the box is made from, that way you can stain and finish it, and your shim will virtually disappear. Paper and cardboard will always show.

If you have any questions, please throw them my way, I’ll be more than happy to help. Small boxes were my thing for a very long time.

All the best,

Les

-- Making sawdust in Bermuda. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it!

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MassMatt

16 posts in 998 days


#5 posted 11-01-2016 12:28 PM

Thanks so much Les – much appreciated. I was imprecise in my language. The video’s I watched were using the stopped Brusso hinge. In my first pass of doing the mortise I ran into some “technical issues” with my alignment and not spending enough time in patient setup – so my lid and box mortise didn’t align. I then used a slightly less high quality (but not terrible – ~20/pair pricepoint) longer hinge with similar mortise width and depth that I’d gotten @ Woodcraft but longer so it occupied space that would have been empty with brusso stopped hinge that was plan A.

Regardless – my mortise is a hot mess at this point (I just keep telling myself – as long as it’s flat – the hinge will hide my sins!) so I think your point holds and really appreciate the advice re shimming. The total height I’m making up in excess mortise depth seems like it’s somewhere slightly less than 1/32 of an inch (if that) – basically slightly visible, easy to feel.

In terms of the acrylic routing templates – is that something you purchased, and if so, any recommendations. I suspect I’ll be using the brusso hardware moving forward as my total project output is modest – so the annual outlay for premium/satisfying hardware is modest relative to time and energy prior to that point.

View JADobson's profile

JADobson

918 posts in 1944 days


#6 posted 11-01-2016 03:25 PM

I’ve seen a number of hinge tutorials where they tell you to make your mortise the depth of your hinge leaf which isn’t quite true. The mortise needs to be half the total thickness when the leaves are parallel. In a good quality hinge like a Brusso this amounts to the same thing. But in a cheap hinge made of stamped sheet metal or something similar the leaf will be substantially thinner and you end up having to make your mortise deeper than the leaf is thick if you want it to close properly. If this is your problem, only the back will have the gap.

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany

View Bermuda_Les's profile

Bermuda_Les

152 posts in 1062 days


#7 posted 11-01-2016 05:22 PM

In terms of the acrylic routing templates – is that something you purchased, and if so, any recommendations. I suspect I ll be using the brusso hardware moving forward as my total project output is modest – so the annual outlay for premium/satisfying hardware is modest relative to time and energy prior to that point.

- MassMatt

MassMatt,

Brusso themselves make templates out of solid brass, and I do have some of them, but the acrylic ones came with a hinge mortise jig I bought from Beall Tool company http://www.bealltool.com. This device may no longer be available from them but it wouldn’t hurt to ask. Just cuz it’s not on their site, “don’t mean they got no any!”.

Rockler have a device called a JIG-IT system which has removable acrylic templates and should work with pretty my any hinge. Here’s that device in action…

Or… if you’re up to it, you can make your own. I’ve done this too, with damn fine results. Here is an article on that… http://boxmaking101.blogspot.com/2015/08/routing-hinge-mortises.html Of course you can use acrylic, plexiglas or damn near anything.

Keep in touch.

Les

-- Making sawdust in Bermuda. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it!

View Bermuda_Les's profile

Bermuda_Les

152 posts in 1062 days


#8 posted 11-01-2016 05:29 PM

MassMatt,

Just another thought… if the shim (using the wood same as box) is too thin to work with, consider gluing a block of the same wood cut to completely fill the hinge mortise, and re-cutting the mortise. Just another view of the same fix.

Les

-- Making sawdust in Bermuda. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it!

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

1685 posts in 1055 days


#9 posted 11-01-2016 07:47 PM

The Bruises have a “bump” that stops them at 95 degrees. This bump needs to clear the lid, therefore the knuckle is set a bit behind the box edge.

It sounds like your hinge is installed with the knuckle pivot point (the pin) align with the box edge (which is perfectly fine).
If I understand you right. when you fold up the hinge and the leafs don’t fully make contact (the “taper” you mention). then the mortices need to be adjusted. Paper/cardboard works great and allows for small adjustments, but if your mortice bottoms are visible, then by all means do as Les suggests and use a shaving of the same wood or bend the leaf slightly.

Here is a set of pictures (for a door) that hopefully will illustrate your problem

View sawdustdad's profile

sawdustdad

333 posts in 718 days


#10 posted 11-01-2016 07:54 PM

mortises too deep is very likely the cause of your hinge bound top, but you should also look at the barrel of the hinge. It usually needs to be mostly outside the box surface. If it’s too close, you’ll bind the hinge that way and shimming will help some, but it will take more shims for the wood surfaces to clear each other. Chamfering or rounding the edges that bind would be another solution if hinge bound from barrel position.

-- Murphy's Carpentry Corollary #3: Half of all boards cut to a specific length will be too short.

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

1685 posts in 1055 days


#11 posted 11-01-2016 09:01 PM

Grrrr! Auto-correct is a bummer! (Bruises = Brusso)!!!

The caption on the upper picture should read “hinge is set in too deep”

View MassMatt's profile

MassMatt

16 posts in 998 days


#12 posted 11-02-2016 12:54 AM

Thanks all for your thoughtful responses – you guys are great! Was able to get it adjusted – slightly further back with the hinge barrel. Box is birdseye maple (home depot digging) and top is a piece of firewood – I think spalted maple that I ripped on my bandsaw ~1 year ago.

View jerryminer's profile

jerryminer

798 posts in 1274 days


#13 posted 11-02-2016 01:07 AM

Nice looking box, Matt. Glad it worked out!

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View Bermuda_Les's profile

Bermuda_Les

152 posts in 1062 days


#14 posted 11-02-2016 11:46 AM

Excellent work! You should be justifiably proud. Now… on to the next one!! Hahaha!

-- Making sawdust in Bermuda. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it!

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