How do i adjust h surface mount hinges so cabinet doors shut?

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Forum topic by rshaker posted 09-16-2012 08:28 PM 18695 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7 posts in 2103 days

09-16-2012 08:28 PM

Topic tags/keywords: h hinge surface hinge door shut adjust

How do i adjust H surface mount hinges or doors so the doors shut all the way? I put the hinges on a Shaker style cherrysideboard cabinet with four frame and raised panel doors. The doors don’t close all the way, they stick out about 1/8 or 1/4 inch on the stile opposite the stile with the hinges. I’ve found a lot of advice on how to adjust mortise hinges so doors shut but none about h hinges. If I tighten the three screws on the case hinge, the door sticks out more. If I loosen the case screws the door shuts but the hinge is noticeably loose. Should I shim the hinges on the case with thin cardboard? Maybe the stile with the hinges touches the edge of the shelf inside, causing the door to jut out. Should i plane the shelf? I could use a spinner knob on each door to keep it shut or magnets for latches but I would rather avoid that. I’ve made only one other cabinet with a door and h hinges in pine and that door works fine. (I made that small cabinet for practice so I wouldn’t have problems like this on the sideboard, my most complicated project so far!) I would be grateful for help!

8 replies so far

View waho6o9's profile


8207 posts in 2601 days

#1 posted 09-16-2012 09:01 PM

Are they like this?

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 2226 days

#2 posted 09-16-2012 09:09 PM

Without the hinges, does the door lay flat? If so how does it sit in the case, is it flat as well? A pic is worth a thousand words sometimes. Could the inside be touching against the hinge stile side? Meaning a too tight of a fit will cause problems. If the shelf is sticking out a tad more on that side it will cause that as well. H Hinges are nice, expensive usually and very none forgiving.

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2993 days

#3 posted 09-16-2012 09:15 PM

If you push the protruding stile into the the opening, will it go in and spring out? If it does, it wouldn’t be the shelf.
Is the edge of the stile with the hinge binding against the carcase/face frame?
Do those hinges close fully?

That’s all I can think of without seeing the problem.

View jiju's profile


7 posts in 3797 days

#4 posted 09-16-2012 09:31 PM

I assume that these are inset doors right? If so there are two things that might be the cause of the doors not closing all the way. First that comes to mind is the door is too close to the hing side and is touching causing the door to spring back a little. If that is the case you can move the hing on the cabinet or the door to give some more clearance between the door and hing side, or you can plane the door on the hing side to give it a slight bevel. If the hing itself is not allowing the door to close completely, maybe you can spring the hing a little to make it work properly.

-- The older I get, the better I was.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3309 days

#5 posted 09-16-2012 11:31 PM


From what you’re describing, it sounds like your door it too tight to the stile on the hinge side, making the door bind a little when it tries to close all the way. You will need to move your hinge a little to allow a little gap between the door and the hinge stile. You will probably need to fill your existing holes and start again. A simple way to do that is to get some round wood toothpicks, put a little glue in each hole, put a tooth pick in and break it off flush. You may need to do it a couple times in each hole, depending on the size hole the screws left. Let them dry overnight and then you can realign your hinges with a little more gap. You may want to drill a pilot hole first, so the screw doesn’t try to go back to the original hole, especially if the toothpick material is softer then the wood in your stile. If you are doing an inset door, you will want approx. a 1/8” reveal all around the door. Anything less then that doesn’t allow much room for the door to move with temp. and humitity changes.
Good luck.

-- John @

View rshaker's profile


7 posts in 2103 days

#6 posted 09-17-2012 02:31 AM

I fixed it! Thank you for your suggestions.

In case this helps anyone else I will explain the problem and respond to each of the suggestions here.

The doors were being pushed open because the stiles with the hinges on them were touching the front edge of the interior shelf. I shaved the edge of the shelf with a low angle block plane (Lie Nielsen) and a bullnose plane (Record 77) and finished by touching up with a bench chisel. The lesson is to leave about 1/16 inch between the front edge of the shelf and the door stiles. The shelf is set into a sliding dovetail with room in the back so hopefully it will expand towards the back not towards the doors in the future and I won’t need to shave the shelf again. The finish is Tried & True oil so it will not be a problem wiping the edge with a coat or two or three so it matches the rest of the piece.

Renners, juju and huff, the problems you are describing are what I found online when one uses mortise hinges. I used H hinges because I think they look good and because I thought I would avoid such problems! I mounted similar hinges on a similar door on the pine cabinet with no problems. Go figure.

Waho6o0 yes, that is what the H hinges look like. I think they are also called surface mount hinges. Apparently they were the common hinge in the 18th and 18th centuries. I use two on each of four doors. I got the ones on the Shaker cabinet from Horton. I got the ones on the pine cabinet from Ball & Ball but they don’t carry them when I tried to get more. I don’t think the problem was with the hinges but I cannot tell for sure.

Renners, yes, when I pushed the door closed, it would spring open. The shelf pushed against the stiles with the hinges. I put a thin wad of tape in their and it made the problem worse so I figured that shaving the shelf would help and it solved the problem.

Gshepard, yes, when I lay the doors on a flat surface outside the case they lay flat. When I placed them in the case without the hinges they fit fine. It was only when I tightened the hinges on the case that the opposite side of the door would open a little.

The stiles were not touching the case. Um, just between us, I actually left a little too much gap or reveal. “No one will ever notice” except me and any cabinet maker.

Huff, I actually did move one hinge because it was a little off. I did exactly what you said: I removed the screws and hinge, filled each hole with a wooden toothpick, drilled a new pilot hole, and put the hinge back on with the screws.

I am trying to upload a picture here. I still need to do the drawers—half blind dovetails—and make a crown around the top. (That’s why there is a stripe around the top: I put blue tape around the top when I oiled the case, so I can glue the crown to raw wood on the front, and glue dovetail braces on raw wood on the sides to hold the crown. Christian Becksvoort wrote an article about dovetail braces to hold moldings on cabinets in Fine Woodworking and I will try that.)

Thanks again everyone!

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2828 posts in 3309 days

#7 posted 09-17-2012 02:45 AM

Great response rshaker and glad you found and solved the problem. I wish more would tell us how they made out and how they solved a certain problem. It helps us all. Thanks again for responding back with your results. BTW; your cabinet looks great and hope you will post more pictures when done.

-- John @

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7 posts in 2103 days

#8 posted 09-18-2012 07:10 AM

I thought about this some more. I suspect the stiles were a hair thicker than the face frame, causing the stiles to protrude just enough into the cabinet to touch the interior shelf which kept the doors from closing all the way. Shaving the edge of the shelf solved that problem.

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