Butler Tray Hinges

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Review by robscastle posted 09-11-2012 09:05 AM 17913 views 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Butler Tray Hinges Butler Tray Hinges Butler Tray Hinges Click the pictures to enlarge them

I decided to write up this review after finding little or no information regarding their use and also their installation.


I purchased the hinges from a Creative finishes for Hardware supplier located in Dungog N.S.W. Australia.

Butler style hinges all appear to be in the ormanental catagory and are mostly brass or polished Stainless Steel.
The profile is overall rectangular and the ends can be square edge or rounded.

The hinges I used were solid brass polished to a high finish rounded ends and 38mm x 64mm. or 2.5” x 1.5” x 1/8”
they open from 90 deg to 180 deg and have a spring loaded locking mechanism.

They have six screw holes and the mounting screws were supplied with the hinges as a kit.

I wanted to use then in the construction of the Blanket Box I made and posted as a project by the same name.

When I opened them there was no installation instructions provided so I decided to look on the internet for some instalation information.
After scanning through numerous hardware suppliers and found the hinges listed as Butlers Hinges, Butlers Tray Hinges and incorrectly refered to as Sewing Machine hinges, which look very similar but open 180 deg as opposed to 90 Degrees.

I used concealed fall flap hinges as an alernative so I could finish the project and spend so more time later researching how to install the hinges I had.

The hinges were not cheap and from memory were about $38 a pair.

Quality: The hinges are a very good quality Solid Brass highly polished and covered with a protective finish, the accompaning screws were also of the same quality.

Installation Instructions: There was no instruction literature with the hinges and all my attemptes to locate any information even from a third party information sheet was also unsucessful.
I thought this very unusual as the hinges being Solid Brass looked very nice and would have been an attractive item to use.

I made a couple of unsucessful attempts to install them and decided to make a jig to assist in the recess profile required.

Step 1. Overall profile
As they were 3mm or 1/8” overall profile I routed the perimeter profile depth using the jig in the accompaning pictures.
Step 2. Hinge pivot detail
I then routed the hinge profile down to 10mm 90 degrees
Step 3 Hinge locking spring detail
As the hinge locking mech needed to pivot out fron the hinge lock recess I routed this out to a depth of 10mm also
Step 4 Squaring up the routed areas
I used a chisel to square up the hinge end recesses as they finished square and parallel to the hinge perimeters.

Step 5 Fittment of the hinges
The hinges fitted up OK so I screwed up the six screws thinking the job was finished, however when i attempted to rotate the test sample the hinge wouldnt close.

I then dismantled one side and sanded a 45 deg bevel on one side and reassembled everything.
The hinges then worked just fine and locked in the 90 deg position OK.

At first I thought that they were worth time time it took for me fit them, as the certainly looked OK in the open position. The asembly time was about three hours, not considering the research I did trying to find installation instructions.

However upon seeing the exposed sections of the hinges when closed changed my mind they were very ugly to say the least, ignoring the protruding screws, which I accept again lack of info.

This exposed area could be reduced 50 % by ensuring the axial hinge area was contained in the moving portion of the flap, again lack of information prevailed.

Value for Money:
New installations, not value for money, difficult to install and time consuming.
Replacement of existing system, altough expensive they are unique in their operation.

Good points. Well manufactured and finished and do look good
Bad Points. Expensive,difficult and time consuming to install, need to be oriented to conceal mechnism from view, no installation documentation available

I am not sure where you would use such a hinge again no doubt there is an folding panel application for them.
The hinges are let down in a big way by the lack of detailed installation instructions, along with their cost and limited application due to the size of the folding panel which relates to introduced stresses by the amount of weight it can support.
The hinges by virtue of my installation proved they have a fixed and moving orientation fitment.

Recommendation: I would not recommend the use of these hinges. In particular I would discourage any application in softwood due to introduced stresses on the timber and hinge via the folding panel from the user.
They possibly still has a role in the retro replacement of existing installations upon failure.

Conclusion: Due to the lack of information available which to me this alone indicates a very limited use of Butler Tray Hinges as a common furniture hinge in todays society.

-- Regards Rob

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7237 posts in 3005 days

7 comments so far

View Willardz's profile


59 posts in 3111 days

#1 posted 09-13-2012 01:09 AM

I had to completely replace an end section on a butler table. It was broken off and lost by movers. I had the same dilemma of installing these hinges. On the other side of the table the hinges were intact, so I copied the mortise from those, and it turned out great. I have not seen these hinges on anything but Butler tables, so I thought it was interesting to use on a blanket box.

-- I have Carrie, food, shelter, and wood to turn. What else do I need?

View robscastle's profile (online now)


7237 posts in 3005 days

#2 posted 09-13-2012 05:30 AM


Interesting reading, do you have any photos of your work or the finished product?
I am very interested in finding out if the Butlers Tray is still in use today, I guess not.
I did a search on the trays while I was attempting to find out information on the hinges.
There is no doubt the name relates to what was at some time a Butlers Tray.

The reason I wanted to use them on the blanket Box was, 1. Because I already had them. 2. They looked great. 3. The fact that they locked open, although in hindsight this would have been in error.
I spent another day perfecting the installation of them and with my template set and two routers I can
mortise a set in about 5 minutes not including the precise setup time they require.

Its also very interesting that the hinges are still produced, and upon talking to the supplier he did not give much away but did say that he had sold 100s of them, so somebody besides us must be using them.

Some points to note:
1. They do require orientation before installing
2 If they have lock tabs the tabs needs to be on the pivoting leaf.
3. They need to be offset as opposed to conventional hinges for cosmetics.

Have a look at Prototype No 3.

I am now ready to make a Butlers Tray all I need to do is see a concept drawing and the Hinges will be used.

Now this is of a standard that I would accept

-- Regards Rob

View Willardz's profile


59 posts in 3111 days

#3 posted 09-16-2012 12:47 AM

The table I worked on was similar to this one being sold on Ebay.

I don’t have any pictures of my repair, but I had to cut out the end piece with my jigsaw, and also cut the handle. Was dark walnut. The ones that I have seen were all used as coffee tables. A search for butler tables on here pulls up a little info

-- I have Carrie, food, shelter, and wood to turn. What else do I need?

View robscastle's profile (online now)


7237 posts in 3005 days

#4 posted 09-16-2012 01:35 AM

A very interesting Table Zeke,

If it was made in Queensland Australia the hinges alone would be about $150+ , let alone the cost for timber and additional materials for the legs then the labour, and its selling for $300 !!

I think I will make one just for the heck of it.

I agree with you there is little information regarding the tables available then the hinges themselves have some information, but the general comments are “never again use them”

The photos on ebay are protected to stop you from copying, but there is enough detail shown to start planning my table design

Thanks for the tip off!!

-- Regards Rob

View rolltopbox's profile


71 posts in 3794 days

#5 posted 03-12-2013 01:28 AM

I have used these hinges for years on my rolltop desks to support the drop fronts. They indeed do require careful layout to work properly and look good. It is the only hinge I have found that holds the dropfront vertical when closed.

The best ones are sold by White Chapel LTD

-- Bruce

View robscastle's profile (online now)


7237 posts in 3005 days

#6 posted 03-12-2013 06:54 AM

Hello Bruce,

Our use of Butlers hinges in projects must put us in a minority user category.
Are there any installation notes included with them?
That was my biggest gripe about them, and the technical precision required to install them was unknown to me at the time of purchase.
However like yourself I find them most suitable for hinged vertical work.

I actually spent days perfecting a method to install them so that it was both precise and installed in a timely fashion.
Thinking that I had missed something originally so I searched and searche for info, of which not a lot information or support for them existed hence why I did the review.

They are certainly the only choice in desk and tray work.

Your desk work looks superb

-- Regards Rob

View Ms_Dovetail's profile


1 post in 157 days

#7 posted 02-29-2020 09:25 AM

Thank you Rob, you are a legend for posting up the info on these hinges. Yours is the only info I could find. I’m going to attempt to use them as the leg support for a hidden ironing board. This will be on the inside of a cupboard door. They’ll be seen at 180 degrees when the board is folded and at 90 degrees when the leg is locked down for stability.If it works I may post a photo.Thanks again.

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