How do I get (1/32") screws in small hinges perfectly centered

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Forum topic by notdan posted 06-24-2018 01:45 AM 1937 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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31 posts in 2151 days

06-24-2018 01:45 AM

How do I get screws in small hinges perfectly centered? Was thinking self centering drill bit but smallest I’ve found is 5/32 and my screws are about 1/32. These are hinges in 1/2 inch wood. I tried last box with awl eyeballing it but wasn’t center enough and the lid didn’t close flush.

11 replies so far

View bilyo's profile


1109 posts in 1870 days

#1 posted 06-24-2018 03:08 AM

I’m assuming that the hinge screw holes are larger than the screws. I don’t know of any ready made tool for the purpose. However, I can think of three possible methods:
Find a straight nail that just barely fits through the hinge holes. Cut the head off and chuck it in your drill. Now, with the drill running, put the point of the nail against your spinning grinder wheel and grind a blunt conical point. You may be able to use this as a center punch to indent the wood and center the screw in each hole.
The second way is to find a piece of small diameter tubing that will fit into the hinge hole and use a short length of that as a shim in order for your awl to find the center.
Make a template of one hinge leaf using thin aluminum flashing material. Then with the hinge leaf clamped together with the template, use a brad point drill bit of a size that just fits the hinge hole to make a dimple in the aluminum. Then drill your guide hole through the aluminum at each hole location.
When you get to the point of drilling your pilot holes, use your drill press with the work piece clamped down and only the bare minimum of your drill bit exposed. Otherwise, with a drill this small, it will have a tendency to follow the wood grain rather than the place you have marked.
Hope this helps

View bandit571's profile


25873 posts in 3451 days

#2 posted 06-24-2018 03:45 AM

Been using this little tool..

One end is beveled, and usually fits into the holes in a hinge….then a tap on the shaft sticking up..

And the pointed end makes a pilot hole… can grind the point to suit what sizes you want. Even just a tap will do the job of centering the holes, then you can follow up with a drill bit, if need be. There are some out there that are spring loaded, too.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View patron's profile


13704 posts in 4109 days

#3 posted 06-24-2018 04:41 AM

have had this problem with small hinges too

if the front won’t close right
i use a strip cut from a cereal box
and put it along the back by the hinges

close the lid slowly a bit at a time
the little hinges and the screws will tweak enough to loosen a bit

make it narrow enough so it doesn’t go along the ends
or it will not let the lid lower in front

remove the strip to check the lid
if not enough yet
double the strip
and work it slowly again
till thing work better

if the back is now open a bit
place a cloth and a flat board on the top
and use a hammer lightly to set the back too

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View splintergroup's profile


3773 posts in 1990 days

#4 posted 06-24-2018 02:17 PM

I often use a steel center punch when working with hinges too small for my vix bits. Basically any tool with a shallow tapered point that is machined (centered) I place the hinge with DS tape to keep it in place then place the punch into the screw hole centered by eye. I then press firmly until the punch’s taper aligns with the hole. To the drill press with the appropriate bit, install the screw, then repeat for the remaining holes.

Often times I’ll hit the hinge holes with a countersink bit to deepen and widen them a tad to make alignment less critical.

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1723 posts in 2498 days

#5 posted 06-24-2018 02:33 PM

Look for “Transfer Punches”. The points are short and come in all the numbered drill sizes. You might be able to get the alignment your are looking for using the one that fits the hole in the hinge, but it’s been my experience the hinges are so thin, it would still be hard to get the “Purrfection” you are looking for. ........ Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2419 posts in 930 days

#6 posted 06-24-2018 02:35 PM

take an old phillips head screwdriver and grind the point to the appropriate size
for the starter hole you need. to make it custom, turn a small handle for it.
I have never tried it, but, could you put a drop of CA glue on the hinge to hold
it in place until you get the screws set ? seems like that might be somewhat of a solution.


-- I am a painter: that's what I do, I like to paint things. --

View bandit571's profile


25873 posts in 3451 days

#7 posted 06-24-2018 02:42 PM

Sometimes, those Yankee push drills have the correct bit…..

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View MrRon's profile


5910 posts in 4011 days

#8 posted 06-24-2018 09:51 PM

Are you sure about the size of those screws? 1/32” is pretty tiny, even for jewelry boxes or doll houses. A #2 screw is about the smallest size that measures .086” dia. It is pretty much next to impossible to center a screw perfectly in wood. A drill tends to follow the grain of the wood.

View SteveMI's profile


1157 posts in 4062 days

#9 posted 06-24-2018 11:40 PM

This doesn’t answer the question, but is an addition. Once I have the center identified and marked I use a .050” endmill, they are usually 1/8” shank. Using a drill press the endmill doesn’t wander with the grain like the small diameter drill bits. This is between 1/16” and 1/32” and works well for #4 screws. One other tip is to use a steel #4 first, then remove and put in the brass one.

This is an example, I usually find them at $4 in model engineering shows or flea markets.


View MC's profile


234 posts in 3115 days

#10 posted 06-25-2018 12:08 AM

I use a starrett centering punch. Never fails.

View CharlesA's profile


3430 posts in 2565 days

#11 posted 06-25-2018 12:22 AM

I use a starrett centering punch. Never fails.

- MC


-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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