Choosing Hinges

Press in, dowel, or Inserta? Speed and convenience are factors in the decision. April 16, 2009

I have a Blum Mini Press. I usually use the plastic press-in dowels in melamine and MDF. I have just finished some hardwood raised panel doors and need to know if the press-in dowels are acceptable in hardwood, or are screw-on the better choice?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor L:
US Army Corp of Engineers specs demand dowel press in, regardless. After a visit with a Blum rep - they also recommend dowel - I find it a lot faster.

From contributor B:
I can't imagine screw-on ever a better choice. With the dowels, you have speed, accuracy and strength, in whatever material you use.

From contributor A:
It's a question I've always wondered about as well. Composite boards do not hold small screws well. That is a fact. Hardwoods like oak and maple hold screws very well. The withdrawal strength of maple may in fact be higher than the plastic (nylon or HDPE) they use for the press-in. If you correctly use the screws (self tapping #6), the wood should be equivalent of the press-in. At the end of the day, if you've got a machine, why would you not use the press aspect?

From contributor J:
Was this post actually made in 1999 and just got stuck in the wires? I cannot imagine using either a screw-on or a press-in (whack-on) hinge unless I was being forced to by some bogus requirements. Since this is 2009, I cannot see why anyone would not use the Inserta type tool free hinges. With the Inserta hinges it's easy for me to transport doors to the jobsite flat and insert the hinges without tools.

From contributor P:
What contributor J said. Anything else belongs in a museum diorama, in my opinion.

From contributor N:
Aren't the Insertas more expensive than the press-in models? And like posted above, if you have a machine, it's just as fast. The only benefit, as you say, is the fact that you can transport your doors to the job without concern that the hinges will scratch or dent them.

From contributor P:
They're slightly more expensive than press-ins, but install faster. If you're dealing with a door that's going to be finished after boring and fitting, they're very quick to demount and reinstall, as opposed to the annoyance of unscrewing and reattaching a press-in or screw-on hinge. I work with a lot of RTF doors, shop bore and flat-pack them, then install them at the jobsite to save damage.

From contributor O:
Contributor J is correct that the Insertas are the best way to go. I use them all the time. I have a good amount of leftover dowel press-ins. If I used them my finisher would complain, and so would my customers. We are in the 21st Century.

From contributor U:
I used to think like contributor J... The day Inserta became available I switched. Now I look at a box of hinges and think, hmm... $.50 savings every time I use a doweled hinge instead of an Inserta... Let's see, 250 hinges in a box, well.. that's another tire for my motorcycle. I do use Inserta where necessary but use dowels when I can. As for trying to screw them in, no!

From contributor H:
When you take the time saved and the damages avoided into account, the Insertas are cheaper. They look better as well.

From contributor G:
I used screw-in very early on before I had a press, but would never use them now. I've never used Inserta hinges before, but I can't see how they could be faster than press-in. With a press the cycle time is about 2 seconds. That said, I am sure either method is acceptably fast.

We bore and press the hinges in after finishing, so it does not affect the finisher at all. Never damaged the finish either. The press is right by the assembly tables, so it is quick and convenient.

After way over 100 kitchens we have never damaged anything with the hinges already in place. We have lots of packing blankets and use them. I also agree that the difference in price between Inserta and press-in does add up over one case, plus how many cases a year?

We're probably splitting hairs here. Try all the methods, pick the one you like the best, and stick with it.

From contributor D:
I have used both. I prefer the Inserta. If not, the finishers tend to mix the hinge plate screws with the dowel screws.