Whether to Hinge-Bore Before Finishing, or After

A close vote, with comments, on when to bore doors for hinges. January 19, 2011

Do you drill the 35mm cup holes before or after applying the finish?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor M:
After with a Blum Minipress. Before I had the Minipress I bored before finish using a drill press.

From the original questioner:
Thanks - I have a Blum Minipress.

From contributor P:
Before. The cup makes a nice place to fit a hanger or old hinge for hanging the door during finishing.

From contributor B:
Before. No chance of damaging the finish while drilling if the finish isn't on yet.

From contributor M:
It's only practical to do it before if you use an Inserta hinge. I keep my Minipress table in very good condition, and very clean. I have yet to damage or mark a finished door by drilling or pressing in a hinge.

From contributor D:
To me, it only makes sense to bore before finishing. You have to do it anyway, so why risk doing it after? Most of my work uses inset doors and drawer fronts, so to me it's worth it to use Insertas, and do a quick dry fit before finishing. The couple of minutes it takes to do that are nothing compared to trimming a door, routing a new edge profile, and then having to redo a 5-8 step finish on an edge.

From the original questioner:
I've considered the Inserta hinges a couple times but never actually tried them. I've never seen one because my local supplier only offers them as special order. They tell me in my area they just don't have enough call to stock them. Do the Inserta hinges really hold over time? I'm just outside of Anchorage, Alaska.

From contributor D:
I've been using Insertas for years and never had one fail. This week my rep showed me the new version with an integrated soft closer. Although it's pricey at about $3/ea, it's actually cheaper than a 1/2 cranked Inserta with a separate soft closer. Plus, it's cleaner looking and works on doors up to 1" thick.

From the original questioner:
Do you know what degree those will open?

From contributor J:
I normally bore before finish. I use screw on Blum hinges. Bore with a Euro Eze drill head on a drill press. Sometimes I bore after finish. I want a Blum press, but $3400!?

From contributor W:
We install the hinges after finishing and use the Blum machine with hinges with dowels.

From contributor E:
Always bore afterwards. Can't remember one getting damaged and it gives me the advantages of playing to the door's strong points/hiding its weak points (which doesn't matter on 9 out of 10 doors, but sure is nice when it does matter).

From contributor M:
Contributor J, have some patience and keep your eyes open and you can find a used one for ~$1000. Makes sense if you are doing inset doors so you can fit up and do any trimming as needed, or if you use the cup holes to spray.

I think the Inserta hinges hold better than the press-in dowels, but I just can't wrap my head around the cost. So I stick with the press-in. For that reason I bore after finishing. Doesn't make sense to me (and my operation) to put all the doors on the Minipress to bore, then finish, then back to the Minipress to press in hinges.

From contributor E:
Contributor M, 40 cents a hinge? It's worth it, and I'm a cheapskate!

From contributor Z:
I bore mine before finishing with a Blum press I got at auction for under $500 (they're out there!).

I just used the Salice version of Inserta with and without soft close on my last two kitchens. I really liked using that style of hinge more than I thought I would - just so much easier to pop them in and out. I wasn't as impressed with the Salice soft close version, but I'm kind of finicky about how things work. I've heard the Blum works a lot better.

From contributor D:
The regular Insertas open 120 degrees. The new ones with the built-in soft closer open 105 degrees. Blum also makes Insertas in 170 degree, but I rarely use those.

From contributor M:
$0.51 cents per hinge in my area. 250 to a box equals $125 a case. I would rather see that $125 in my pocket, especially when I don't see a benefit to my operation using the Inserta. I would gladly pay the extra if there was some benefit to me and my operation.

From contributor N:
This conversation pretty much sums up what I have seen over the past 20 years. The bore-before or bore-after question is pretty much a 50/50 vote. Salice offers two versions for the bore-before group. The Logica is a tool-free assembly similar to Inserta while the Rapido is a cam-dowel which locks the door in place with a single rotation of the cam screw. Both are available in 94, 110, 120, 165 openings. All are available with integrated soft close. Some prefer the Logica or Inserta purely for the aesthetic value. I am the Midwest Regional manager for Salice.

From contributor Y:
I used to always bore before and still do when spraying dyes. However, quite some time ago I bored some sample maple doors and stained them. Afterward I noticed that the stain soaked through and left a nice dark ring the size of the bore on the fronts. I had never seen that happen before, but since then I bore all stained doors after finishing.

From contributor N:
Good point. It may be the wood species or the stain type, but in either case not worth ruining expensive doors.