need help hanging cabinet doors

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Forum topic by ACR_SCOUT posted 06-17-2013 11:41 PM 1676 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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23 posts in 2430 days

06-17-2013 11:41 PM

Hello all,

I made some cabinet doors out of 3/4” plywood styles and rails with 1/4 inserted plywood. I think they came out pretty nice.

First question, what is the easiest way to mortise for the hinges in the edge of plywood? I used a utility knife and a sharp chisel but neither seem to do the job very well. But I got through that.

Now that I have hung the door, it seems to be sprung (will not close) and I cannot seem to figure out how to fix it.

What is the normal way to figure out placement of hinges and hang a cabinet door?

Thank you,

-- Sears Table Saw Model: 113.298150

6 replies so far

View kdc68's profile


2657 posts in 2299 days

#1 posted 06-18-2013 12:21 AM

I don’t think there’s a rule …Most often I place the top hinge so that the top of the hinge is even with the bottom of the top rail, and with the bottom hinge so that the bottom of the hinge is even with the top of the bottom rail…..The only exception I know is for passage/entry doors….the bottom hinge is usually 11” from the bottom and the top hinge is 7” from the top….As far as your doors being sprung…I think maybe you mortised too deep….the hinge plate must be mortised that it fits flush otherwise it may get into a bind

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2698 days

#2 posted 06-18-2013 12:43 AM

I think kdc68 is correct. It sounds like the mortise is too deep. If this is not the case then the mortise might not be straight. If things are at an angle then the hinges would bind. I like using a router and a jig. Then I square the corners.

View Bernie's profile


422 posts in 2860 days

#3 posted 06-19-2013 03:38 AM

Fred – you have good advise on hinge placement.

Once I have those basics down this is what I do. For an example, I’m going to talk about inset doors as opposed to overlay doors because inset doors have no wiggle room; they need to be precise. Inset doors need to have the same amount of space all around the door and we’re talking 1/8 or 3/16th of an inch. Some folks use a 25 cent quarter for their spacing but I use craft (aka Popsicle sticks). I lay my sticks in each bottom corner and set the door on top of them. I will then shave my door down so I can snugly fit a craft stick on both side and top of the door (door was milled a tad larger then the oppening).

Now I’m ready to install the hinges. The door hinge is 1st and to make my point easy to understand, lets assume my bottom hinge is 2 inches up from the bottom of the door. I make my doors with solid wood and cut the mortise with a chisel. So the bottom of the hinge is 2 inches from the bottom of the door.

Next step is to cut the bottom mortise into the cabinet. I mark the bottom of the hinge at 2 + 1/8th inches from the bottom. As for the top hinge, always measure from the bottom of the door and cabinet – never from the top. So hypothetically speaking – the bottom of the hinge ends up being 12 1/2 inches from the bottom of the door. Now I measure the cabinet hinge to be 12 5/8 inches from the bottom.

This method works fine for me. The only other thing I will mention here is that I mark my cuts with a sharp knife or chisel because a pencil mark is too thick. It can throw your cuts off enough to make them not fit correctly.

A footnote here… I use solid woods and my shop tends to be humid. Since wood moves (not plywood), during summer construction, I use one craft stick. But if I’m building during the winter months (heater is running and the air is dryer) I’ll use 2 craft sticks thick spacing because I know my doors and cabinets will expand during the summer months.

Hope this isn’t all too confusing… but that’s how I hang my doors. Some may disagree with me and that’s all good (that’s what makes this forum work). You will need to find which method works best for you!

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 2887 days

#4 posted 06-19-2013 03:54 AM

I cussed my way through hanging 3 doors on a shed over the last few days. I basically did it similar to how Bernie described it. Hinges aren’t my strong point I found out. But I think I got the hang of it so to speak.

View ACR_SCOUT's profile


23 posts in 2430 days

#5 posted 06-22-2013 10:53 AM

Hello everyone,

Thanks for the input and advise. Sorry it took so long to get back to you but the Army and exhaustion got in the way. I plan to work on the cabinet again this weekend and try to fix my problem. I bought a rasp to try and help shape the mortises.

I know one thing, for cabinet from here on, I will make the frame, styles, and rails out of real lumber and not plywood. Plywood is too hard to mortise. I am also going to look at different hinge styles.

-- Sears Table Saw Model: 113.298150

View ACR_SCOUT's profile


23 posts in 2430 days

#6 posted 06-23-2013 06:22 PM

I gave up trying to make the butt hinge work so I surface mounted them.

I have one more cabinet like this one to build to go beside this one. When I build the bigger cabinets I will investigate the hinge options further.

-- Sears Table Saw Model: 113.298150

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