How to install hidden cabinet hinges

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Older cabinets had exposed hinges which mounted on the outside of the face plate of the cabinets. Nowadays, most cabinets have hidden hinges which, in the cabinet industry, is called a European hinge or a hidden hinge. These hidden cabinet hinges are a little more complicated to install than the older type.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Determine what type of hidden hinge you need when you install hidden cabinet hinges. They come in ½-inch overlay and full overlay hinges. A ½-inch overlay means the cabinet door is 1 inch bigger than your opening, thus giving you a ½-inch lap on your opening at the top, bottom and sides. A full overlay hinge means your door covers the opening with only about 1/8-inch of your face plate showing.

  2. 2

    Consider the different heights of your cabinets, such as your wall cabinets. They come 12 inches high, up to 42 inches high. Your 12-inch high cabinets take two hinges per door and your 42-inch high cabinets take three hinges per door. Base cabinets normally take two hinges per door.

  3. 3

    Lay your door face down. Measure down 3 inches from the top and bottom side of your door where you want your hinges installed. This gives you your center line for your hinge. Drill a hole 1 ¼ inches in diameter, leaving a ¼-inch reveal on the outer edge of your cabinet door. To drill this hole, you must use a "forstner" bit (a European bit) that drills a flat hole. It prevents the hole from going through to the other side of the door.

  4. 4

    Install your hidden cabinet hinges by sliding the hinge into your 1 ¼-inch hole. Take the two screws provided to secure the hinge to your door. Repeat this process on the bottom hinge. If you use a framed cabinet, hook your hinge over your 3/4-inch frame and secure with one screw at the top and one screw at the bottom of your hinge. This secures the hinge into your face plate.

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