Cabinet Hinge Options

Cabinetmakers discuss the advantages of different hinge types. November 12, 2005

We currently use Blum hinges that screw on and we bore for the hinge cups on a small drill press dedicated to this procedure. After finishing, we place the hinge, put in the two screws, and mount.

We are in the process of changing over most of our hardware to a new supplier and they have offered to supply a Blum mini-press. I was aware of the dowel-in type hinges but never considered using them due to our equipment. I can see this saving us time. Do you just press the hinge/dowels in and that's it, or do you tighten them somehow with the screws? Do they tend to loosen over time? What about removing them in the event of a bad or damaged door? Remove the screws and drill the dowels out, or are they removable another way? Does the mini-press insert the hinge or just drill the cup and dowel holes?

Also, we had a pretty good dust/chip collection set up on the drill press. Does the mini-press accommodate chip collection (because that'd make a mess!)? I am just not familiar with this setup and would appreciate any info from those using it.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor B:
Good deal. How many hinges did you have to buy? My suppliers won't give away anything but an occasional pencil.

Yes, it will insert the hinge. Nothing else to do, just bore, press and insert. To remove, back screw out enough to get a claw under it, then pry it out. Re-tighten the screw into the dowel and it can be used again. Don't asků :)

From contributor T:
The Mini Press drills the holes and presses in the hinge. We have not had one come loose. If you need to remove the hinge, just remove the screws. I have a small box of the plastic dowels that I can use if we mess up a door and have to change the hinges to the new door. The dowels are almost impossible to pull out. For dust collection, we have a 4 inch hose in between the post by the drill head.

From contributor R:
I use a Blum mini drill (because it was cheap and was not a press). It drills the 3 holes and saves so much time I wish I had bought one a long time ago. I use the Inserta Hinges.

When we receive our doors, we sort them and drill, then finish them. We package and send them out to the job. At the job site we install the hinges with a snap and install the doors. I found that installing the hinges in the shop ended up being a pain to package. And installing the doors in the shop was more trouble because we had to do more packaging of the cabinets to stop the doors from swinging open when handled.

I don't see how to use the mini press. Would you drill and press in the hinges after you finish your doors? Or do you mostly do unfinished cabinets? Drilling and pressing after the finish may cause some damage to the finish.

The Inserta hinges cost more, but I feel they save us time and are well worth it. I also use the cam type hinge plates. Again, they cost more, but if the door hole is off a little, it is way faster twisting the cam screw than loosening up the 2 plate mounting holes then re-tightening. A few times of forgetting to re-tighten them and the callback kills the whole savings of the cheaper plates.

From contributor C:
The press doesn't harm the finish.

From contributor L:
I have used Blum hinges almost exclusively for twenty years now. First the screw-on type, then the press-in, and now I use the Inserta with the adjustable plate. I also install the hinges on-site (it makes transporting the doors much more convenient).

* Yes, the mini-press will drill for and insert your hinges. No tightening required and they do not loosen up over time.
* I remove press-in hinges if necessary by removing the screws and pulling the hinge. The plastic dowel can usually be removed by partially inserting a drywall screw and prying the dowel out with a claw hammer. The dowel is reusable.
* The mini-press has no hook up for dust collection, but you can monkey-rig a hose with a flared end attachment directly behind the drills with great results.

From contributor H:
I also use the Inserta hinge and press-in plates. The time saved installing and the delivery of doors and possible damages more than make up for the cost difference. The cam adjustments on the plate and hinge are an amazing time saver for installers, cut down on callbacks for misaligned doors, and these features give me an edge over other quotes because clients are impressed by the technology. You can use almost any boring machine with the Inserta hinges, as well.

From the original questioner:
I buy the hinges in 250 piece cases and one will last us about 1 1/2 months, but I also switched all my drawer runners, knobs, pulls, etc. to this supplier.

The others bring up a good point I hadn't thought about as to the process of boring and inserting the hinges after finishing. I can see the potential for damaging the finish. How do you avoid this? Can you just use the press to bore the doors prior to finishing and then manually insert the hinge, or does this defeat the whole purpose? Something to consider. See, that is why I love this forum.

From contributor S:
You can use the press to install the hinge with the plastic plugs and then unscrew, leaving the plugs in, and then do the finishing. If you assemble the complete job in shop, you can then mark the hinge cup (on the bottom) and the door (in the hole) for each hinge. Leave the hinges off till the cabinets are at the job site. Marking the hinges saves the installers time so they don't have to re-adjust the hinges you send out.

From contributor H:
Labor, labor, labor. Screw the hinge on, screw the hinge off, label the hole, label the hinge, sort them out, put them back on, give me a break! At .25 a hinge difference, that's .50 a door. I don't care what brand you use, but switch to an Inserta model and start making money.

Sorry for all the shouting, but the heat in south Florida gets to me by the end of the day. Seriously, though, it is frustrating to see someone spend 4 hours on a slider with forklift and tiger rip fence cut 12 sheets of $26.00 a sheet melamine because he wants to save a sheet. Hinges and any hardware or process that takes time eats into your profit and takes away precious time you could be spending with family or friends. Let's stop being penny wise and pound foolish.

From contributor B:
When we finish, we bore the raw doors. The holes make hanging 'em convenient for finishing. Hinges are inserted after finishing. But we prefer to hang all doors/fronts before the cabinets leave the shop.

To the original questioner: that's still a great deal. I use a box of 300 Salices per month, along with other Salice hardware, and my manual machine was $400.

From contributor O:

Insertas. Period. Great deal on the Blum press - hard to find that deal nowadays. Forget the press-in hinges. Use the Insertas once and never look back. If you use the press-in, you need a few different rams. Plus, the labor involved in clipping the hinge onto the ram and swinging it down into position and pressing the button is more than putting an Inserta on the hole and clipping it in! Also, check out the Blum 32 mm system of drilling your cab sides. It will save you a lot of time drilling your hinge holes, plus save time with any Blum runner you want to use.