Efficient Drilling for Hinge Placement

Cabinetmakers discuss how to streamline door drilling for Euro-style hinges. March 1, 2006

I am currently line boring with a delta 13-spindle machine (start 67mm from bottom) and drilling my doors on a 12" drill press that has a fairly large table and fence. My process is this:

- Install my hinge plates on the cabinet.
- Measure from the bottom of the cabinet to the center of each plate.
- Transfer measurements to door, subtracting 3mm for my bottom reveal.
- Drill 1/2" deep holes centered 7/8" from edge.

A friend uses a Blum machine with a "big stick" indexing system to do the line boring and drill doors and it is pretty easy - not much thinking involved and no measuring. For those of us with limited funding, is their an easier way for me to locate and drill my holes in the doors?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor R:
You could buy the Mini Stick and adapt it to your drill press or you could standardize your door sizes and make some templates to at least locate the drill press. You could also look for a used Blum MiniPress and wonder why you waited so long. There are also a couple of off brands that cost less than the Blum but which drill the same pattern.

From contributor S:

Another make is Casati (also sold under the FGV banner), but make sure that it's set-up for Blum hinges. Xasate sell gearboxes for a wide range of hinge makers. These hinge borer/inserters make the job easy.

From contributor K:
I am a small shop also and found it hard to come up with enough money to buy a new Blum machine. I found a used one for sale on the internet and later bought the big sticks. It has been one of the best investments I have ever made in tools. It saves so much time over a drill press that it will pay for itself in a very short time.

Also I use Blum Process 32 for my frameless cabinets. All door holes are 62.6mm from the end (top and bottom hinges) and the box hole pattern always starts 46.5mm from the bottom. Always the same wall or base cabinets, and makes things simple and standard. I can vary the cabinets’ height in 32mm increments at the top and all the holes are still in the same place.

From the original questioner:
Since I already have a line boring machine, is there any reason to get the minipress over the minidrill? Where can I get the big stick?

From contributor K:
I only use Inserta hinges and never press ins, so I have the mini drill. It depends on the hinges you use. We finish all the doors here in the shop, package them and send them to the job without the hinges, so Inserta’s work great. I bought my big stick from a hardware supplier E.B. Bradley.

From contributor J:
I have a small shop (4 people) and like everyone else very limited funds. I was drilling doors with a drill press as well, with a well-set-up jig. I thought that was great. But just for kicks, I asked my supplier about a Blum Minipress. I told him I'd heard about folks getting a "loaner" machine as long as they bought a minimum amount of Blum hardware per month. To my total astonishment, I now have a shiny brand-new Minipress in my shop for $0, and only need to buy 250 hinges per month to keep it. It just shows that it never hurts to ask.

From contributor C:
To contributor R: You stated that "all door holes are 62.6mm from the end." I have trouble even getting a setting of .5mm so I was wondering how you calibrate your settings to 10ths of MMs? Do you use an electron microscope?

From contributor R:
The main reason to get a MiniPress is in order to insert Metabox front fixing brackets or press-in hinges. Since the advent of Inserta hinges it is a real waste of time pressing hinges. If you don't know what Metaboxes are then I guess you don't need a MiniPress.

From contributor K:
That was a typo. It should be 62.5mm. "Big sticks" are a pair of fences that bolt to the Blum fence. They have captive pins at 32mm centers. I think they are about 6 feet long. They are used for line boring at 32mm centers or hinge boring center hinges on 3 hinge doors or anything else because frameless cabinet hardware is placed at 32mm centers.

From contributor J:
The quickest method I have come up with is to install the hinges on the doors first (any spacing you want). I then position the door up against the case with a small spacer strip to hold it slightly off the case (maybe 1/16 of an inch) then just screw the plates in. If you’re worried about slippage you could pre-drill with a Vix bit. For ease lay the cabinet on its back if possible. An extra hand always helps for larger doors.

From contributor F:
Lean on your distributor, hard. If you commit to using their hinges, they should give you the machine. I own 2 hinge press machines, a Ganner "Red Baron" and a newer Omal, both with line boring attachments. I use Salice hinges and when my first distributor went out of business, the new guy gave me a machine for a $2,000.00 hinge order.

From contributor B:
We cut a scrap piece of plywood (around 2 1/2" wide) the same length as the door and drill it the same as the door. We use this to locate the hinges on the case, as you do using the door, but the small strip is easier to handle, and single doors are no problem. You then don't need the small spacer to space the door off the case either.

We do all custom cabinets with many different heights and have found this to be quicker than figuring out where to place the hinges and plates. We drill the same distance from the end of each door and just put the plates where they need to go.

From contributor P:
We use a Blum minipress in our shop and drill all doors 4" from the edge of the doors on top and bottom (unless it's a funky arched door or has some other obstruction). We then install the Blum hinges with the clip on plates and use 1/8" spacers or appropriate to line up the door on the case and just screw it in.

In my own small shop I also use a nice drill press to drill the hinges. I set up a nice jig with some chrome plated pins that get inserted into holes located 4" from the center of the drill spindle on either side. Just slide over to the pin, drill your hole, switch the pin to the other side and repeat and you are ready to insert hinges. This is not quite as fast as the minipress of course but it is as fast as my small shop will ever need...