Wooden hinges ??

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Forum topic by NBeener posted 03-14-2011 10:46 PM 8308 views 1 time favorited 46 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4816 posts in 3408 days

03-14-2011 10:46 PM

Topic tags/keywords: hinges box question dovetails walnut brazilian cherry qswo wood hinge metal hinge

I’m working on a box.

So far …

... The joinery is dovetails (came out fair-to-good)
... Primary wood is walnut
... Secondary woods are
...... QSWO (lid panel)
...... Brazilian Cherry (veneer, on the base), that I’ll either put a router profile on, or just sand to a nice curve

I cut splines, and used keys (in the same wood as the frame) for the lid. Wanted them to have a subtle appearance, as opposed to highlighting them, with a contrasting species.

The next step is hinges. The plan calls for wooden hinges. I cut blanks out of the same walnut, and … could either MAKE the hinges out of it, or out of another species.

But the article, itself, cautions that even really well-made wooden hinges are quite fragile, compared to metal.

Anybody have any strongly positive, or strongly negative experience with wooden hinges ?

It would be pretty easy, at this point, to opt for store-bought—particularly any of the wide variety of “antique” looks, commercially available … like ….

Thoughts ???


-- -- Neil

46 replies so far

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 2927 days

#1 posted 03-14-2011 10:53 PM

Wood hinges might be nice, but its risky to doom your box to unusability if the hinges were ever to snap.. I’d play it save and get very small, ornate metal hinges or maybe even some black old timey shed door looking hinges.

It looks like once this box is finished, it will really pop, so why add in the Achilles heel? The box looks ~9-12” long or so?

I don’t have much experience with wood hinges, so this is more based off of speculation and opinion..

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View CptWingnut's profile


34 posts in 2903 days

#2 posted 03-14-2011 11:04 PM

I don’t know wood hinges really take it a level above in my opinion. I haven’t found them to be terribly weak, I guess it just depends on what the use is. if it’s going to be a garage box to store your angle iron collection then I would go with metal. However it’s probably not going to be, it will probably be a well taken care of box that doesn’t see a lot of slamming the lid back and forth. You can always replace a broken hinge if need be…however annoying it may be.

View Napoleon's profile


788 posts in 3043 days

#3 posted 03-14-2011 11:07 PM

The box looks really nice :) try to look a rob cosman`s www course i know he has some tool for wooden hinges

-- Boatbuilder&blacksmith

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11135 posts in 3662 days

#4 posted 03-14-2011 11:24 PM

Pretty box!
Round over a few pieces of Walnut end grain, box joints on that side. Drill a hole through them and insert a brass rod. Glue every other finger.
Sounds so easy. But,.... I’ve never done it. :-)

There’s always Brusso…...or ACE hehehe

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View PhineasWhipsnake's profile


77 posts in 3282 days

#5 posted 03-14-2011 11:39 PM

You must be a fellow Incra junkie (like me)...I’ve made quite a few Incra-inspired boxes lately, including their business card holders. My experience has been pretty mixed, and what I’ve learned is that they can be very delicate. I’ve screwed up and destroyed several of them using walnut, sycamore, and oak. The wood is just too brittle IMHO. I’ve had pretty good luck with hard maple, cherry, and other tight-grained woods, but I think in the future, I’ll stick with metal.

-- Gene T

View Larry Parrish's profile

Larry Parrish

9 posts in 2865 days

#6 posted 03-14-2011 11:59 PM

Here are a couple of hinges I have made with good results

-- Larry

View littlecope's profile


3071 posts in 3736 days

#7 posted 03-15-2011 12:04 AM

Make some Neil!! :)
They are plenty strong for ordinary use… but I usually add a little heft to them, they are wooden after all…
Walnut hinges would fit in with your idea of less contrast, but I would make them out of Oak, following the lid panel…
Apple would make some nice ones, like they used to use for saw handles…

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

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3349 days

#8 posted 03-15-2011 12:14 AM

just make the wooden hinges neil
they can even hold up to doors if youmake them right
take a look at Mathiases site here and see those his father had made a lot of
I know its not the modell you seek but just to give you a hint of what they can hold up to

take care

View SPalm's profile


5325 posts in 4116 days

#9 posted 03-15-2011 12:20 AM

I have made a few of the flat plate style that look like the brass ones that are in your picture. Mixed results. They sure are a crowd pleaser. I would recommend a strong tight wood like hard maple. Grain selection made a huge difference. You want the grain straight, running 90 degrees to the hinge pin, then you won’t get any triangular chip out. Make 5 and throw away 3. I keep several at work that get passed around and played with a lot, and they still look great.

You have a box with an overhanging top. How do you plan on mounting your hinges? I had the same problem on a box and I solved it like this. Kind of different.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1577 posts in 3799 days

#10 posted 03-15-2011 12:29 AM

Interesting topic, if you opt for the metal hinges, here is a video on aging the metal.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4256 posts in 3398 days

#11 posted 03-15-2011 12:51 AM

Check out Stefang’s posts on wood hinges (Mike in Norway). I dropped him a link to this post so he can comment…........

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View stefang's profile


16208 posts in 3568 days

#12 posted 03-15-2011 01:59 AM

Hi Neil, The strength of wooden hinges isn’t a practical issue so long as they are made correctly. There are many designs out there and i am sure you will find one to suit your needs.

I use wooden hinges on all my boxes. They are robust and I’ve never had one fail. I have been using same design all along. It was originally found on Scottish tea boxes of the 19th and early 20th centuries. I like it because it is unobtrusive and does add much or take away from the box design.

You have probably seen some on the box projects I’ve posted and I’ve also done a tutorial blog about them if you are interested in details.I realize of course that you might have something entirely different in mind.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3907 days

#13 posted 03-15-2011 02:16 AM

Nice looking box Neil. Are those hand cut dovetails?

View Dandog's profile


250 posts in 3008 days

#14 posted 03-15-2011 02:45 AM

go for the wooden hinges… it will look sweet.I been wanting to do that. Nice looking box.

-- life an woodworking is one big experiment

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3408 days

#15 posted 03-15-2011 02:51 AM

Alright. I’m talked into it.

Steve: the back of the lid will be flush to the box, so … I don’t think much tinkering is involved. Great examples, though, and—Dennis—I truly admire Matthias’s work, and his website, so … thanks !

Charles: it was MY hands that guided MY router bit along the template of MY Porter-Cable dovetail jig, so … let’s say yes ;-)

Larry: beautiful work. Really. That’s the kicker.

I DO like the idea of hard maple or QSWO—both of which I have.

I’m going for it. Stay tuned …..

Thanks !

-- -- Neil

showing 1 through 15 of 46 replies

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