Inlaid Wooden Hinges #3: Glueing the inlays.

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Blog entry by ruddy posted 05-09-2012 04:07 AM 19030 reads 28 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Making the inlays. Part 3 of Inlaid Wooden Hinges series no next part

This is now the home stretch….not long to go.
1. Left hand side base inlays.
These inlays are going to be glued into the base. Make sure that they slide in easily before applying glue. Remember which face is the reference!

I use drills of the correct diameter to get the centreline of the hinge pin in the correct position. The centreline should be on the mid point of the over lap which is about 8 mm. In this case I set the centreline at 4 mm.
When I have glued these base inserts previously I used some Titebond3 glue as it has a long set up time.
On this prototype I used Gorilla glue because I had run out of Titebond. I think the set up time for Gorilla is about 4 nanoseconds because I barely had enough time to seat the inserts and get the hinge pin to rest on the drill packers. A lesson learnt.

2. Right hand side inlays.
Because there is no hole at the end these inlay trenches the inlays have to be an exact length. Earlier I showed how I marked the length for these inlays. Ít is better to cut then slightly long say 1/64. At this stage you can drill the hinge pin hole. Then using the same packing drills as step 1 above, place the assembly of 4 inlays with the pin into the pocket. You can then see if they are too long because the brass hinge pin will not touch the packing drills. Adjust by reducing the length of the inlays taking some stock off the radiused end.Make sure you do a neater job of this than I have done here.

Because this right hand side has some acrylic inlays, I used a 24 hour two part epoxy to glue the inlays in place.

When the glue has set withdraw the hinge pins using pliers. At this stage you should have two sets of base hinge inlays with a correctly aligned hinge pin hole in each.3. Hinge pin length.
Cut the hinge pin to the final length. I make them about 0.5mm shorter than the pocket width.

4. Shaping the lower inlays
To allow the lid to swing open, it is necessary to radius the inlays on the base. I have chosen to do that at this point and I simply use a rasp/file to get the shape and it is all done by eye. In the future I think I would do this operation on the sander to each of the inlays prior to glue up.

5.Lid inlays Left hand side.
These are cut to approx length as previously. Here I aim to have the end of the inlay going about 1/3 of the way into the 6mm hole at the end of the trench. The actual length is not critical as long as you have some of the inlay encroaching on the 6mm hole.

6.Right hand side lid inlays.
This is similar to mounting the lower inlays. Make the inlay as long as the trench and then drill the hinge hole with the jig. At this stage you can thread the inlays onto hinge pin in order and dry assemble the parts. I purposely made these slightly too long and then got the exact fit by reducing the length on the radiused end.

7. Final glue up.
Before the final glue up you can slide the lid and base together and make sure that the split line is perfectly even and that the upper inlays all seat home. Because the inlays protrude about 1 mm from the back face you will not be able to fully open the hinge. When you later remove that 1 mm and make the back flush the hinge should fully open.

This picture shows the hinge ready for glue up. I use the 2 part slow setting epoxy for the final glue up as you need plenty of time to get everything in place and the inlays seated home. Absolutely imperative that you do not get any glue in the hinge overlap area. I chose to have the lid side on the bench upside down and then carefully applied the glue to the trench areas only. The big benefit with this system is that everything automatically lines up so getting the fit right between a base and lid on a box is a breeze.

8. Final clean up.
After the glue had set, I used an small block plane and an orbital sander to remove the excess inlay stock.

The next step is to plug the 6 mm holes. To do this I would normally make some teak dowels 1/4 dia and redrill the 6mm holes to 1/4’diameter. Here I made the 1/4” dia plugs from some red acrylic to see how it would look.

The red plugs were set in place with quick set epoxy and then sanded back to be flush.
Here a few pictures of the finished hinges…...

You can see the Right Hand side inlays are poorly fitted and no where near as neat as the left hand side. This has all been a bit rushed.
I would be interested to hear what you think about the acrylic inlays. I think they open up some opprtunities for colour contrast on some boxes.

regards from Sydney

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

19 comments so far

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3444 posts in 4273 days

#1 posted 05-09-2012 05:41 AM


That’s a very clever design but it looks awfully complicated. The design options seem limitless. Thanks for sharing the idea.


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Roger's profile


21021 posts in 3365 days

#2 posted 05-09-2012 11:57 AM

Wow! Movin right along

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

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3597 days

#3 posted 05-09-2012 03:52 PM

Ruddy, I hadn’t picked up on this blog until now. Whilst the method is fairly involved it does allow for great variation in colouring and materials for the inlays. The acrylic inlays are a good idea. I’ve often found that wood is not the strongest material to make a hinge out of. I wonder if metal inlays, Aluminium or Brass perhaps, might also work well?

Your blog is very clear, well laid out and comprehensive. Its sparked an idea or two in my mind as well. Well done on all fronts. I particularly like the plugging idea, allowing inaccuracies in inlay length to be overcome.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3864 days

#4 posted 05-09-2012 04:28 PM

thank you so much for this great tutorial ruddy, it was very clear and i agree with martyn on the many points he has brought to the forefront , this opens the doors to some great hinges in the future, again thanks so much for sharing this, great job mate…....grizz

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

View Vince's profile


1219 posts in 3990 days

#5 posted 05-09-2012 06:30 PM

Excellent design thanks for sharing it.

-- Vince

View YorkshireStewart's profile


1130 posts in 4462 days

#6 posted 05-09-2012 07:21 PM

Thanks, Ruddy, for taking the time to do the exercise, for photographing it so comprehensively, and for sharing it with us. I like these a lot.


-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business.

View Doe's profile


1428 posts in 3391 days

#7 posted 05-09-2012 08:18 PM

Thanks for time you’re spending on this! The words are clear and the pictures—priceless. I really like the acrylic inlays. It would be cool to see what they’d look like with some brass rod as plugs for the round plugged ones . . .

Brilliant work; thanks for sharing!

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View ~Julie~'s profile


617 posts in 3595 days

#8 posted 05-09-2012 10:59 PM

That is very cool!

-- ~Julie~

View ruddy's profile


550 posts in 3500 days

#9 posted 05-09-2012 11:00 PM

Thanks for the comments. I agree with Martyn that wood may not be the strongest material to make hinges but because the inlays are finally trapped in the glued up assembly you would have to break them all at once to destroy the hinge.
They do give great freedom of design and I hope to see what others come up with. Perhaps I should approach Adidas, they certainly sell a lot of boxes and here you could extend their stripes right around the box!!!!

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

View Dan Hergott's profile

Dan Hergott

5 posts in 2808 days

#10 posted 05-09-2012 11:03 PM

Nice work!

View shipwright's profile


8412 posts in 3359 days

#11 posted 05-09-2012 11:11 PM

Great tutorial, great photos but most of all, great hinges.

Several of us here have a special appreciation of wooden hinges and yours are some of the best I’ve seen. The aesthetics are very pleasing and I do like hinges are part of the box as opposed to add-ons.

Really nice.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3251 days

#12 posted 05-10-2012 01:44 AM

Thank you very much for taking the time to put this tutorial together. You did a great job with the instructions and pics. I like the acrylic inlays. The left style looks like it leaves a LITTLE more room for error in fit. I’ll have to try these as they are some of the nicest wooden hinges I have seen. Thanks again.

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

View abie's profile


904 posts in 4332 days

#13 posted 06-12-2012 02:47 PM

DITTO to all the above
Very Nice and well laid out and explained.

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

View Alexey Khasyanov's profile

Alexey Khasyanov

219 posts in 3434 days

#14 posted 08-20-2012 06:52 AM

Will do.
Thanks for post.

-- @alexey_Khasyanov

View punk's profile


181 posts in 2977 days

#15 posted 12-11-2012 11:32 AM

real nice i like the varitey and color options

-- Punk in PA

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