Old School Mortised in Butt Hinge #1: The Start; layout

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Blog entry by Waldschrat posted 02-19-2010 10:45 AM 12429 reads 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Old School Mortised in Butt Hinge series Part 2: The Mortising »

So here is my second blog series, for lacking of a better term, the “old school butt hinge.”
It does not have to be old school, but it is. Why? It takes time, practice, skill, and work to make this almost lost style of hinge work.

Thats why we are here, to learn wood working, practice makes perfect, and I will now introduce the hinge:

Of course there are left and right hinges… so pay attention.

This is the typical straight leaved hinge. You notice the holes, they are what hold the hinge in, with screws, either from inside, so you do not see them from the outside, but one could also put the screws outside. The only thing.

Be Brave! You have practically one chance to make these perfect. To quote a hero and mentor of mine:

Try not. Do or do not, there is no try.

Ok the skeptic, may be sitting there, arms folded saying, “yeah, right, skill? its just a hinge!” Well, I can only say, its very difficult to correct a falsely mortised in hinge. just that simple, and if the screws holding in the hinge are not accurately drilled the door hangs crooked, thats all she wrote… if its for a customer, you can count on making a new door.

But the reward of having a very sleek, and uncommon hinge is well worth the effort and patience.

You will need these tools:
Mortising chisel
measuring instrument
screw sinking tool

Parts/materials needed:
screws, that fit the holes but short enough not to go through door

Ok, I had to build in a door on an exisiting frame, and already existing hinges. So unfortunatly in this blog I am actually only doing half the work as the the old hinges, the male piece, is already in the door frame, and my job was to build a new door, and since the old door must remain complete, I must put in the new female half of the hinges in the new door to match the old ones. The procedure is the same for both halves of the hinges, so actually you are not missing much other than that, when working on the door frame, you can not work on the bench.

Another thing I would like to point out, is that since I had made the mortises in the door before I had made the pictures, so for the sake of taking pictures, I made another mortise out of a left over scrap… its the same work again so nothing missed.

Ok now I will start the procedure here:

First step is to hold the new door up to the already built in hinges… old or new, to mark the edge of the hinge so w know where to start the mortise, do the on the upper edge of the hinge in the wall to the edge of the door… use a sharp, soft pencil, if the pencil is too hard you might not find the mark again. (note that you will not have the male piece, its already in the door frame… )

Second step, to to the work shop with the door and hold the female hinge on this line and mark the other edge, so now we have the width of the hinge. Since this is a door that has a relief going around, we have to transfer these marks to the inside of the relief:

Your new best friend, the mortising chisel

It must be sharp, and the back side polished to an almost mirror

And it must have a straight back… you might notice that this is slightly bent, which is not good, but for this relatively shallow hinge it should not provide a problem, we just need to make shallower cuts.

Ok now we are ready to start cutting. I will post this in another section of the blog. So please be patient!

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

4 comments so far

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4446 days

#1 posted 02-19-2010 04:21 PM

6 ours and still waiting you realy put the patients under stress :—-))

no kidden
but I realy look forward to see what
you come up with


View Waldschrat's profile


505 posts in 4767 days

#2 posted 02-19-2010 04:24 PM

patience! Adventure, excitement, a Jedi craves not these things.

ok ok, I will get on the next chapter of the blog, I have to help someone move tonight from Starnberg to Partenkirchen, and do not think I will get time until the weekend.

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4446 days

#3 posted 02-19-2010 04:29 PM

:—)( sorry but I don´t think I ever will enter the neveu of being a jedi in the woodworld

View dvail12's profile


22 posts in 3303 days

#4 posted 01-01-2013 11:54 AM

Thanks you for posting this. I found it by sheer luck. I have seen this type of hinge application on a number of antiques. I have now an instance where I need to perform such an installation on a reproduction piece. I have a number of mortising chisels, but have never seen the one you used. Was it a lucky find at a tool auction, or is it still being manufactured?

The hinges used in your blog are flag hinges that you offset yourself. Is it always done this way? Are there long leaf butt hinges made for this purpose?

Thanks in advance if you can offer any assistance.


-- Dvail12

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