Hinges and Hinging – a Practical Guide

An Exceprt from Handwork In Wood, by Williams Noyse, MA




.Hinges, Fig. 233, are made in several forms. The most common are the butt-hinge or butt, the two leaves of which are rectangular, as in a door-hinge; the strap-hinge, the leaves of which are long and strap-shaped; the Tee-hinge, one leaf of which is a butt, and the other strap-shaped; the chest-hinge, one leaf of which is bent at a right angle, used for chest covers; the table-hinge used for folding table tops with a rule joint; the piano-hinge, as long as the joint; the blank hinge or screen-hinge which opens both ways; the stop-hinge, which opens only 90°; and the “hook-and-eye” or “gate” hinge.

Fig. 233. a. Butt-hinge. b. Tee-hinge. c. Chest-hinge.

d. Table-hinge. e. Blank or Screen-hinge.

The knuckle of the hinge is the cylindrical part that connects the two leaves, Fig. 234. The “acorn” is the head of the “pintle” or pin that passes thru the knuckle. Sizes of butts are indicated in inches for length, and as “narrow,” “middle,” “broad” and “desk” for width. The pin may be either riveted into the knuckle as in box-hinges or removable as in door-butts. Sometimes, as in blind-hinges, the pintle is fastened into one knuckle, but turns freely in the other.

Fig. 234. Parts of a butt-hinge. 1.1. Leaves.

2.2.2. Knuckle. 3. Pintle. 4. Acorn.

A butt-hinge may be set in one of three positions, Fig. 235: (1) Where it is desired to have the hinge open as wide as possible, as in a door. Here the knuckle is set well out from the wood. (2) Where it is desired to have the hinged portion open flat and no more. Here the center of the pin is in line with the outside surface of the wood. This is less likely to rack the hinge than the other two positions. (3) Where it is desired to have the knuckle project as little as possible.


Fig. 235. Three Positions of Hinges.



In setting the hinges of a box cover, first see that the cover fits the box exactly all the way around.

.In the case of a door, see that it fits its frame, evenly all the way around, but with a little play. To insure a tighter fit at the swinging edge this edge should be slightly beveled inwards.

.In attaching a butt-hinge, the essential thing is to sink the hinge into the wood, exactly the thickness of the knuckle. The gains may be cut in one or both of the pieces to be hinged together.

.With these matters determined proceed as follows: In the case of a box cover, the hinges should be set about as far from the ends of the box as the hinge is long.

.In the case of an upright door, locate the hinges respectively above and below the lower and upper rails of the door. Mark with the knife on the edge of the door the length of the hinge, and square across approximately the width of the gain to receive it. Do this for both hinges. Between these lines gage the proper width of the gains. Set another gage to one half the thickness of the knuckle and gage on the door face the depth of the gains. Chisel out the gains, set the hinges in place, bore the holes, and drive the screws. Place the door in position again to test the fit. If all is well, mark the position of the hinges on the frame, gage and cut the gains, and fasten in the hinges. Where the hinge is gained its full thickness into the door, no gain, of course, is cut in the frame. If the hinges are set too shallow, it is an easy matter to unscrew one leaf of each and cut a little deeper. If they are set too deep the screws may be loosened and a piece of paper or a shaving inserted underneath along the outer arris of the gain.
This article is an Excerpt from Handwork In Wood, by Williams Noyse, MA, which is available from Better Days Books in quality hardcover, sturdy paperback and convenient .PDF e-book download editions, starting at just $3.95.

Originally published in 1910 as a manual for teachers of woodwork, William Noyes’ Handwork In Wood to this day ranks among the all time best, most complete and practical primers on the tools and techniques of good, old fashioned “no electricity needed” hand tool carpentry. Whether you are headed “off the grid” or just off to the garage, with over 300 photographs and illustrations, Handwork In Wood is the only book the modern handyman with a taste for Old World craftsmanship and style will ever need.


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