Inlaid Wooden Hinges #1: Getting started

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Blog entry by ruddy posted 05-08-2012 08:48 AM 11395 reads 36 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Inlaid Wooden Hinges series Part 2: Making the inlays. »

I had a few of the boxmakers asking for a tutorial blog on the method I have used to make inlaid hinges. This is a first for me so be gentle, pull up a chair and get a coffee. And ask any questions…....
I like to make boxes and have done a few with conventional wooden hinges but I thought they were more suited for rustic designs when virtually added to the box as the last sequence when making the box. I played around with a few designs of flush mounted hinges and came up with the concept of positioning the hinge pin above the lid and base split line and made some hinges that worked that way.
This was the result at that stage.

Trying to come up with something different, I woke up one night with the thought that this style could be inlaid with individual leaves…....

The first box I made was curved and the inlay leaves were very small. It was a steep learning curve and from that experience I made the document box. In between I made a prototype which is shown below. You can see how the prototype works and how it opens to about 95 degrees.

This blog is going to try and make another prototype hinge. Bear in mind that this is really the 4th time I have done this, I am sure there will be many improvements that can be made to the process.Any bloopers we all get to see….
1. Marking out the hinges.The first picture is a piece of scrap pine and I have marked in red where the split line will be. The split line is as wide as the saw kerf. I have never made a larger hinge before so I am going to make the left hand side hinge the same as the one on the document box and the right hand side hinge inlays will be 8mm. I am not sure what the final result will be. The hinge on the left will be made with 4.5mm leaves and the pitch therefore will be 9 mm between leaves. The right hand side will be 8 mm leaves at 16 mm pitch and because of the design freedom with this method I have staggered the leaf lengths. The hinge layout has taken into account the loss that will occur from the saw kerf.

2. Left hand hinge only. The first step is to drill the holes at the end of each leaf. These holes are 6mm dia and they are there because they really simplify the later assembly. They are drilled 10 mm deep . It will become clearer when the hinges are glued up.
I have a very old small milling machine I use to do this part of the work.

3. Left hand hinge only. This step pockets the hinge layout. I use a 4.5mm dia cutter and the trenches are exactly 10 mm deep. This is important as it becomes the reference surface for later assembly. The pocket area where the upper and lower leaves will overlap will finish up at about 9 mm at this stage which includes the saw kerf.

4.Here the right hand hinge is shown. I chose not to predrill the end holes as I want to see how it looks with just radiused ends. Again this hinge pocket is exactly 10 mm deep and you can see the varying lengths of the leaves.

5. Making the leaves. I chose some teak as the material for the leaves. I believe you need some close grained hardwood for the inlays.
The board I started with was about 18mm thick and made strips that were 11 mm wide x 4.3 to 4.4 mm thick. You need an easy slide fit when the leaves are placed in the trenches. Not sloppy but also not too tight as when you glue later, it must slip in. I cut a series of leaves that would allow me to get two leaves from each piece. This makes it much easier to handle than individual leave. At this stage I squared up both ends of the pieces on the disc sander, perfectly square. To be on the safe side I made a few extras…...Also note that at htis stage I marked one edge with a red pencil. This face will become the reference face when drilling the hinge pin hole and when assembling.

6. Splitting the box If this was a box, this is the point where you would cut the lid from the base. At this stage making a box, the top and the bottom , the mitres and any splines would all be done at this stage. On the prototype, it was just a matter of ripping it in the correct place (red line) on the saw.

regards from Sydney

to be continued

-- And my head I'd be a scratchin'

4 comments so far

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3779 days

#1 posted 05-08-2012 09:34 AM

big applause, thank you and im following this , and ill get this down, this is great…grizz..thank you ruddy

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Roger's profile


21010 posts in 3280 days

#2 posted 05-08-2012 12:46 PM

Wow! I’m clapping also

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3166 days

#3 posted 05-09-2012 01:44 AM

This is too cool! I’m off to the next installment.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View abie's profile


899 posts in 4247 days

#4 posted 07-10-2012 03:22 PM

I’ve just used this method on my latest box with the splines…
hope to try this method on my nest hinge project
again TNX

-- Bruce. a mind is like a book it is only useful when open.

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