I’ve installed inset door hinges on a number of my projects now, and I’ve finally come up with a way to do it easily. And by myself. Sometimes it seems like you need about 7 pairs of hands to keep things where you want them when you are building, and with this method all I needed was my own set.
This is the magic ingredient for only needing two hands to install hinges.
Two-sided carpet tape. Best $4.50 I’ve ever spent because I used it for a lot of different things on this build AND it made the hinge installation a piece of cake.
The hinges I need for this project were partial wrap inset door hinges and I ordered mine from Amazon. I have bought all of my hinges from an actual Woodcraft store up until this point because I didn’t really know what I was looking for and they are always helpful for figuring that stuff out. This time I knew more about hinges so I felt comfortable ordering them online. These are called partial wrap because they do not wrap around a face frame.
Here’s a FULL wrap hinge that you would use on a cabinet WITH a face frame. The red arrow point to the part that wraps around the back of the face frame piece. The blue arrow points to the part that attaches to the side of the face frame. Green is the side of the door and pink attaches to the back of the door. If you don’t have a face frame, then the red arrow part doesn’t fit. For inset doors without a face frame you need a partial-wrap inset hinge.
Here’s a partial-wrap inset hinge and its parts:
No red arrow part getting in the way on this one. The blue arrow attaches to the side of the cabinet, green to the side of the door, and pink to the back of the door.
First off, you need to do a test run on how your doors fit in the spot so you don’t have any surprises. I have found that inset hinges can vary in the space they leave after you install them as well–and I had to shave some off the edges of some of my doors to get them just right. I used my new table saw this time, but in the past I have used my circular saw with a straight edge jig.
Once I’m pretty sure the fit is good, I install the hinges on the doors. I made a mark 2.75″ down from the top and bottom and then screwed the hinge on.
I put nickels to use as spacers on the bottom of the doors. Nickels are 1/16″ wide and that is the spacing I want on all the door edges, so they work great for this.
Next part is where the tape comes in. I applied the double-sided tape on in three spots on the hinge to help me hold it to the cabinet where I wanted it long enough to screw it in place.
Set the door on the nickels and push it against the cabinet side. Apply pressure to the door to get the tape to stick, hold the door in place as best you can to open it, and then really push the hinge against the cabinet to get it to stick. The door will still want to slide down a bit from the weight of the door, but if you gently give a little pressure up before you drive the screw all the way, it helps with this. It is still light years better than trying to have someone else hold the door open at just the right spot until you get it attached. These hinges allow a bit of adjustment if you screw in the middle of the opening in the hinge. You can loosen the screw a bit and move the door up or down depending on what you need (you can see that in the photo below this–I had to adjust the door up a bit so the screws are toward the bottom of the hinge openings).
Now in my imperfect world, the doors always want to stay ajar the last little bit with these hinges. I can’t take credit for this next part because Hubs came up with it on the Living Room built in I did last year. I use an empty macaroni and cheese box that was flattened for this, because I’m fancy like that. Put the box where the hinge closes and gently close the door on it.
You may have to be less gentle if need be, just go slowly with the amount of force you use because these hinges will also warp if you get too rough. I’ve been able to get the doors to close perfectly this way (so far). Even so, you’ll need magnetic clasps to hold them entirely closed.
And voila!! I was dreading putting on 8 doors for this build, but it was all so easy doing it this way.