Aligning hinges on box lid, or nearly anything else...

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Sorry for this, but this has always mystified me.
Given a small box that I can put a lid on with either a piano hinge or two smaller hinges, how on earth do I align it so that it closes perfectly?
I envision using some kind of double sided tape to attach the hinges until by experimentation it closes right, but I am not quite sure what else to do.
Thanks!
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wrote in message

I attach the hinges to the lid first and put a small piece of double stick tape on the entire surface that will come in contact with the box. Set the lid on the box exactly where you want it to fit and the apply pressure over the hinges.
Carefully open the lid and use something to support the lid so that the hinges will not have to support it. Using a "Vix" bit I drill "1" hole on each hinge and put a screw in each pilot hole. Test the fit. If the fit is good use the Vix bit to drill the remainder of the pilot holes and then scribe a line with a utility knife around the hinges to establish the location of the hinge mortise. Remove the screws and lid. Cut the mortises and reattach the lid.
The key is to use a self centering bit to accurately place the holes for the screws. If you are not dead centered, the screws will displace the hinge. The Vix bit is relatively inexpensive and works very well.
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snipped-for-privacy@swbell.net says...

It seems to me that if the two hinges aren't both attached to the lid such that the hinge pins are lined up (in 3 dimensions, which means 6 degrees of freedom, though the plane of the surface you are mounting the hinges on would remove one of those), you'll still have problems.
My hinge experience has been with shed doors (large, floppy, and not critical that they look nice) and kid's Pirate Chests (where slightly squirrelly hinges lend an air of authenticity.) I've a couple of projects in mind where more precise hinges would be important. :-)

I think you are describing a method for concealed hinges (where the hinge plates are attached to the mating surfaces of the box, and only the pin is visible when the box is closed) if that's the right term. The same kind of hinge that is usually used on a house door, but smaller.
For strap hinges (where the hinge is attached to the outside of the box and is totally visible when the box is closed), I've though of a method which might work.
Place the lid on the box, carefully aligned. (Could use tape to hold it in place.)
Put a piece of double-sided tape where each hinge will go, and carefully place the hinges in place.
Open and close the box, adjusting the hinge location as necessary until it works nicely.
Drill pilot holes with a self-centering bit. (Do one hole first in the lid and box and fasten a screw in each of the holes, to keep it from shifting around while you drill the others.)
Mark for mortises, if needed.
Remove hinges and tape, make mortises, and reattach with all screws.
I also have a second method that might not work as well but doesn't require double-sided tape.
Put a strip of transparent tape over the hinges and (once aligned) drill the pilot holes through the tape.
Fasten at least one screw tightly (through the tape) on each side of each hinge, and then mark the mortises. The marking knife will cut away the tape, so it is necessary to fasten the hinges securely before marking.
Then remove the screws, tape and hinges, cut the mortises, and reattach.
Does anyone have a better, simpler or more accurate method?
--
John

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Hinges typically have the barrel that you can align with the back edge of the lid. That will keep the hinge pins on the same line.
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Leon said something like:

...[snip]...
No, I've tried that, and perhaps it's just me but there just isn't enough accuracy gained by doing this. If the barrel is not 100% aligned (by the slightest fraction of a degree) then that angle will "grow" the error the further down the lid; the longer the lid, the worse.
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if you mortice the hinges before you try to mount them, it won't matter as much if your screw holes are off a tad. The mortice will hols the hinge securely enough.
To lay out the mortices, you will need a straight reference (a ruler, the edge of the wood, etc). Lay out hte mortices, and carefully chisel or router them out. The hinge should be snug - it should fit in the mortice without gaps around the edges, but should be able to slip into the mortice without needing to push.
-JD
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wrote in message

Are you leaving the entire hinge exposed? That would add a degree of difficulty. Typically small box hinges are intended to be mortised.
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Leon said something like:

I'm actualy replacing broken hinges with slightly larger ones. The mortice is no more than a complete notch in the wood for the entire thickness of the board, because it is so thin.
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Leon thanks for those instructions, makes it simple and straightforward.
--
Mike
Watch for the bounce.
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I just had to do the same thing in a 5" X 7" X 7" high steel chest. I did pretty much what the other poster did, but being more "chicken" than he is, I drilled the holes undersize, so just in case I had it a tiny bit off, I could file out the holes to recenter them at the next bigger screw size. The screws will all be replaced by rivets when I'm done fitting. You can see, though, that in my case, I am drilling all the way through, whereas you may be attaching with woood screws.
Pete Stanaitis --------------------
Thomas G. Marshall wrote:

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On Tue, 29 Apr 2008 13:38:55 +0000, Thomas G. Marshall wrote:

I've started using barrel hinges (Soss, etc.) because they're completely hidden and, at least for me, easier to install and align.
What I do is drive short brads partly into the box, snip off the heads, and use them to make an impression on the lid. Pull the brads, drill the holes on the drill press, and I usually get a perfect fit.
If I'm having troubles driving the brads straight (we all have those days, don't we?) I use a small bit in the drill press to predrill for the brads.
I suppose I could also drill the hinge holes in the box and use dowel centers to mark the lid, but metric dowel centers are, AFAIK, not available.
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Boy Larry,
I'm sure glad you posted this part! I was just about to ask about barrel hinges.
I recently bought several sets for my box projects and found myself scratching my head on how to align them.
Thanks to you, now I will feel confident in having a go at it. On practice wood first, of course.
K.
On Tue, 29 Apr 2008 13:38:55 +0000, Thomas G. Marshall wrote:

I've started using barrel hinges (Soss, etc.) because they're completely hidden and, at least for me, easier to install and align.
What I do is drive short brads partly into the box, snip off the heads, and use them to make an impression on the lid. Pull the brads, drill the holes on the drill press, and I usually get a perfect fit.
If I'm having troubles driving the brads straight (we all have those days, don't we?) I use a small bit in the drill press to predrill for the brads.
I suppose I could also drill the hinge holes in the box and use dowel centers to mark the lid, but metric dowel centers are, AFAIK, not available.
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Boy Larry,
I'm sure glad you posted this part! I was just about to ask about barrel hinges.
I recently bought several sets for my box projects and found myself scratching my head on how to align them.
Thanks to you, now I will feel confident in having a go at it. On practice wood first, of course.
K.
On Tue, 29 Apr 2008 13:38:55 +0000, Thomas G. Marshall wrote:

I've started using barrel hinges (Soss, etc.) because they're completely hidden and, at least for me, easier to install and align.
What I do is drive short brads partly into the box, snip off the heads, and use them to make an impression on the lid. Pull the brads, drill the holes on the drill press, and I usually get a perfect fit.
If I'm having troubles driving the brads straight (we all have those days, don't we?) I use a small bit in the drill press to predrill for the brads.
I suppose I could also drill the hinge holes in the box and use dowel centers to mark the lid, but metric dowel centers are, AFAIK, not available.
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On Tue, 29 Apr 2008 17:44:52 -0500, Kate wrote:

There's another alternative I haven't tried yet. Woodcraft has started carrying round hinges. You just clamp the box and lid together and drill a recess with a Forstner bit. They even come with an optional "shelf" that prevents the box from opening too far.
They're probably available elsewhere but I work part time at Woodcraft so I know about the ones we carry.
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Larry Blanchard said something like:

But this technique doesn't keep the pins aligned in a straight line (does it?), unless you're trusting the barrel-again-the-wood technique which I'm apparently not very good at.
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On Sun, 04 May 2008 10:28:07 +0000, Thomas G. Marshall wrote:

Well, there aren't any "pins" in barrel hinges, but the same effect can be had by not installing the hinges perpendicular. Drilling the initial holes in a straight line is easy using a fence.
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On Apr 29, 9:38 am, "Thomas G. Marshall"

It'd be *less* of a headache to mortise them than surface mount them in a case like yours. Let the scratch gauge set the hinges dead parallel.
To get the screws dead center, spot glue the hinges with superglue, then drill and recountersink .
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Father Haskell said something like:

I use "hinge bits", or self centerring bits----I can't seem to get a centered hole without them, even if I use a punch awl dead center, then drill with normal bit, it is always "off" by just enough to nudge the hinge out of alignment.
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On May 4, 6:30 am, "Thomas G. Marshall"

Needle-sharp pencil. Draftsman's lead clutch and sharpener is ideal. Hold dead perpendicular and trace the inside of the hole. You can eyeball the center punch to within a half of a hair. Prob with centering by the hinge holes is they cast a shadow, which is easily confused with the actual holes.
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On Apr 29, 9:38am, "Thomas G. Marshall"

There are many ways to skin a cat.
Usually, I'll just position the hinges, mark out with a sharp knife, and cut the mortises. Sometimes I'll cut the second set slightly narrower (not as far across the edge) so that I can trim slightly to make sure the box body and top line up perfectly front to back. Usually I'll offset the screws very slightly, so that they pull the hinge against the edge of the mortise.
Starrett make the best automatic punch for marking screw holes.
The Vix and other self-aligning drill bits are fine, but you want to make sure the guide is the right size for your hinge holes. Sometimes, they come to too narrow a point, so that they will hit the wood before they locate in the hinge - which means that the hole they drill may not be centered. File or grind back the guide until it fits the hinge hole countersinks without bottoming on the wood. Or, if you have a metal lathe, you can make up some differennt sized guides.
I've got one trick of my own. As I do a lot of metalwork, I've made up some transfer or spotting screws. These are somewhat like dowel spotters. A large flat head just as thick as the distance between the hinge leaves when closed, a short shank of the diameter of the hinge hole, and a short point sticking up past the surface of the hinge. Soft steel is fine. Mortise and screw the hinges onto the box bottom, then open the hinges and place the spotters through the holes. Close the hinges down on the spotters, and you'll now have points sticking up where the screws need to be, so position the box top and tap it lightly to mark the screw holes.
John Martin
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