I have a job coming up where I have to replace a bunch of wooden casement windows. Only the sashes will be replaced; the jamb will remain in place. There are two soss hinges per sash. As the jambs are already mortised for the existing hinges, I need to work to that and mortise out the new windows for the hinges. Soss hinges have no means for adjustment. Anyone have experience doing this on site? I'm going to buy some hinges and try a prototype out in the shop but I'd appreciate any suggestions for getting the technique dialed in before I begin the job.
From Gary Katz, forum technical advisor:
When you buy the hinges, buy the correct router template from Soss. They make two-step templates for their hinges, with removable pins which you back out before plunging in deep to cut the pocket mortise. With the pins in, you cut the shallow mortise for the shoulders of the hinge. You'll need a plunge router and a long bit. Make sure you get the right diameter bit for the template/hinge combination. Sometimes even the long bits aren't long enough and I've had to drill out a little of the pocket with spade bits. A minor hassle but not a problem.
If you set yourself up that way, you'll be a happy finish carpenter, for sure. If you don't, you'll probably be sad, for sure, unless you are good at and enjoy drilling Soss hinge mortises by hand with forstner or paddle bits.
You're right. There's no adjustment. Your hinge mortises have to be spot on. I usually go a little shallow at first, try the door, then dial the router in to move the door a tad closer to the jamb. Shimming out the hinge from a mortise that's too deep... well, you can do it, but it's not fun - and then the hinge will wiggle a lot.
Also, don't back bevel the hinge stiles (I usually do on regular doors). That really screws up Soss hinges! (I'll let you imagine how I learned this stuff...)
I had to shim out one set of hinges on the job. I used laminate samples that I cut to fit snug in the bottom of the mortises to keep the hinge from rocking.
When putting the hinges into the mortises I rubbed a little wax on them. They fit real tight and I had to get them out for the painter and didn't want to use a block and hammer to do so.
Also cut out the drywall at each hinge location, just a small square, and glue in a block of hardwood to replace it. If the window sits flush to the jamb, the outer hinge screws will have something to bite into aside from sheetrock. Casing will cover this.
With a plunge router and template, cutting these hinges isn't too bad. It's just time consuming. Double and triple check your measurements and everything works out.
Contributor J, the existing hinges are already mortised into the jambs. I only need to bore the new sashes. I'll keep your wood block for drywall trade in mind, if ever there is another time.
Thank you for your detailed and insightful posts. This website is truly a blessing.
After reading the bushing and bit requirements of the Soss templates, I see the advantage of the Templaco is that you use a 5/8" o.d. bushing and 1/2" bit which I usually leave set up in an older Porter Cable plunge router anyway for oddball and stepped mortises for hardware in homemade templates. Norfield makes a heavy duty adjustable template for a couple hundred bucks but it can be modified to do other stepped mortise applications like extension flush bolts. Unless I mortised for this type of hinge very frequently, I'd go with an inexpensive single pocket or a couple at different sizes and add to my labor price for the time spent laying out and cutting. The layout may also vary, as it frequently does, in new door/old jamb situations, so you'd end up spending a lot of extra time playing with the extension bars between a multi-pocket template. I am not aware of any hinge blocks like those made for the Bosch Butt Template for quick layout of Soss hinges to existing mortises. If they are all the same, you could make a story pole for layout or make spacer blocks with a hook on the end that registers each hinge off the top of the sash to the top of the template. That way you only have to manually lay out one. My last time out with this hardware it wasn't worth doing this, as the door sizes ranged from 9'4" to a 5' door cut and rerailed to follow the pitch of a stair and the hinge requirements per door of 2-4. Maybe I am missing something.
There is an instructional video on the Soss website that could be helpful. One other tip. Don't try and be slick and set up two routers for the different depths. Bushing guides aren't all exactly the same size. At least the Porter Cables I was using weren't. Cut yourself a spacer block at 1 5/8" or whatever the depth for the size hinge you are using requires, zero the cutter inside the pocket, lock in the router, and use the block to set the depth for the deep mortise. Do the same for the finish mortise, except use the hinge itself to set the plunge depth. I found this out the hard way the first time I used these hinges. Oops.
Gary's suggestion about leaving the mortise shallow and adjusting the depth after a fitting is a great one. I intend to use that the next time I get to play with these.