Sunday, March 22, 2009

Gettin' Jiggy With It

This is a trick I learned from Norm. I had never tried it before, mainly because I lacked the proper equipment. The idea is to make a jig for the hinges and then use a router to route out the hinge mortises for the face-frame and cabinet door at the same time. This ensures that the hinge mortises are identical on both sides.

You can buy hinge jigs, but every one I saw was for large door hinges that start at 3.5 inches and go up. I’m using the cast bronze hinges from the 1890s. They are 2 & 1/4 inch hinges. I looked at Sears for an 1890s, 2 & 1/4 hinge jig, but the cashier said they had been out of stock since 1912, so I had to make my own.

Making the jig was time consuming, but it paid dividends when it came time to hang the doors. The hinges are 2 & 1/4 X 1 & 5/8th. The jig sort of works like the old Spirograph drawing tool, but instead of a sprocket that rides around inside a larger sprocket, you have a router that rides around inside a hole cut in a piece of plywood. Cutting the hole to the right size is the tricky part.

Calculating the height is easy enough. The hinge is 2 & ¼ and the collar on the router (the part that rides against the plywood) adds a quarter inch at each end. That means the hole must be 2 & ¾ inches high. The width is a little more tricky. The hinge is 1 & 5/8th inch wide, but some of that is going to stick out from the cabinet door.

The knuckle of the hinge, where the 2 halves of the hinge meet, must stick out from the cabinet door a bit. I figured a ¼ inch on both sides. So that left me with an inch and an eighth. Then add on the half inch for the collar on the router and you come back to an inch and 5/8th. It seems straight forward now that I write it, but when I was standing in the shop with a hinge in one hand and a piece of plywood in the other, it was far from clear.

So here’s how it works….

Before assembling the door I clamped the hinge stile of the door to the face-frame with a spring-clamp. It is clamped on in the position of the cabinet door being completely open.

Then the jig is clamped on for the first hinge.

The router has a half inch straight bit and a collar that will ride around the inside of the jig.

After the router is run in the jig you have a mortise on both pieces. Once the jig is removed I use a chisel to square up the corners.

Then, with the spring-clamp still in place I move the jig up to do the upper hinge. After the upper hinge is mortised, I remove all of the clamps and drill the holes and mount the hinge on both the face-frame and the stile of the cabinet door.

I then remove the hinges and assemble the doors. I should be able to get these hung by Wednesday. Then it is on to the lower cabinets. I will breath a sigh of relief when these upper doors are hung. I’m not out of the woods yet.


Anonymous said...

I would be terrified to really start routing that. Even putting the hardware on my cabinet doors scared me. One little miscalculation and you've ruined something big!

I can't wait to see the doors hung.

Josh said...

Great tip, Greg--Thanks to you and Norm.

Gayle A. Robison, DVM said...

Having no woodworking experience, your post was complete Greek to me, lol. All I know is, you do AWESOME woodwork. I just found your blog a couple of weeks ago and read way back to the start, and am really impressed with the project.

Those redwood cabinets are gonna be incredible.

NV said...

Geez, Greg. You definitely are one of the most resourceful dudes evah!

HPH said...

Norm is proud.