How to Design a Hinge for Furniture

Written by karen nehama
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How to Design a Hinge for Furniture
Many hinge designs are available. (hinge image by Mat Hayward from

Furniture with doors and lids, like cabinets and desks, generally require hinges. When designing or building furniture, it is necessary to decide what type of hinge to install. There are a lot of hinge types and discovering the benefits of one type vs. another can be a challenge. It is tempting to pick a hinge that is easiest to install, but becoming familiar with types of hinges will increase your creativity and comfort level when designing furniture.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Screwdriver
  • Internet access

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Design storage trunks, chests and boxes with piano lids in mind. Also known as "continuous" hinges, piano hinges are barely concealed. Like other hinges, piano hinges come in various gauges, materials and sizes. A benefit of piano hinges is they come in varying lengths and can easily be cut to size.

    How to Design a Hinge for Furniture
    Piano hinges work on trunks. (treasure chest image by .shock from
  2. 2

    Install "surface mount" hinges for easy-to-hang hinges with a decorative "H" or butterfly shape. These hinges are mounted outside doors and frames and are highly visible.

    How to Design a Hinge for Furniture
    Surface-mount hinges are decorative and useful. (ancient door hinge image by thomas owen from
  3. 3

    Install "flush decorative" hinges, like a "barrel" hinge, for a hinge that can't be seen from outside. A "back flap" hinge shows no hinge except the barrel, when door is closed.

    How to Design a Hinge for Furniture
    Flush mount hinges can't be seen from outside. (close door image by Andrew Buckin from
  4. 4

    Install "overlay" hinges on cabinet doors that overlay. A "semi-concealed" hinge is strong, while the "half wraparound" hinge is stronger. The strongest is the "full wraparound hinge," for heavier doors with added support on the door and cabinet.

    How to Design a Hinge for Furniture
    Heavy doors need strong hinges. (schranktür image by Ewe Degiampietro from
  5. 5

    Install speciality hinges for non-traditional projects. A "tabletop" hinge is for tables built with a leaf that drops. Use a "flap" hinge for drop front table panels, and a "hexagon" hinge for hexagon-shaped furniture. "Two-leaf" hinges are for framed mirrors or dressing table mirrors that pivot separately and rotate 360 degrees.

  6. 6

    Install antique replicas and hinges with extra details. Many finishes are available, including pewter, old English, nickel, brass, bronze, and chrome. Crown finials on hinge pins add a great deal of interest to a hinge as well.

    How to Design a Hinge for Furniture
    Antique replicas add architectural interest. (scharnier image by diogenes from

Tips and warnings

  • Choose residential hinges for average-size furniture, and architectural hinges, which are thicker, for large or heavy furniture.

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