How to Make Metal Hinges

Written by michael dempster
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How to Make Metal Hinges
An ornate hinge can be a design feature of the object it is used with. (hinge image by Mat Hayward from

Metal hinges can be a hidden mechanical linkage or an ornate feature of the object on which they are used. Using the basic pin and barrel design, you can design and construct your own metal hinges. Through understanding the how to make the essential components of a metal hinge, you can create functional hinges specifically suited to your project.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Sheet metal
  • Metal scribe
  • Ruler
  • Hacksaw
  • Metal file
  • Barrel die
  • Ball peen hammer
  • Drill
  • Metal rod
  • Hinge pin tool

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  1. 1

    Choose the size of the hinge based on its function. Measure the width and height of where it will be attached. This will let you know the width of the plate. Decide upon the length of your hinge. A longer hinge will support more weight. Mark two separate rectangles of these dimensions on paper. A hinge plate can be more ornate outside of the basic rectangle shape.

  2. 2

    Measure the diameter of the metal rod that you will be using as the pin. Mark a rectangle of the same height as the plate with a width of 1.2 times the diameter of the rod on each of the plate diagrams. This rectangle should share an edge with the plate.

  3. 3

    Choose the number of barrel segments for the hinge. This should be an odd number. Divide the barrel height by this number. Mark rectangles representing the segments in the barrel rectangle at 90-degrees to the edge of the plate. Etch out every second rectangle in the barrel portion of one hinge section. Etch out the opposite rectangles in the second hinge section. The etched sections will be removed when cutting the plate.

  4. 4

    Mark out the screw holes on the hinge plate. There should be a minimum of two screw holes.

  5. 5

    Transfer your design to the sheet metal marking all the lines with your metal scribe.

  1. 1

    Cut out each segment with the hacksaw.

  2. 2

    Drill the screw holes. The drill bit should be the same diameter as the screws you intend to use. Countersink the holes. Use a drill bit that is the same diameter as the head of the screw and redrill the hole to a depth equal to the depth of the screw head.

  3. 3

    Bend the barrels. Your barrel die should be of a diameter of the rod plus two times the thickness of your sheet metal. Insert the hinge segment into the barrel die. Hold a piece of scrap metal against the uppermost edge of the hinge segment. Hit this with the flat end of the hammer until the flat metal has bent into a barrel shape. Make sure there is no overlapping of metal in the barrel; the edge should just touch the plate. Repeat this with all barrel segments on both hinge pieces. Check that they fit together well.

  4. 4

    File all rough edges.

  1. 1

    Cut a length of rod slightly longer than the height of the barrel.

  2. 2

    Make the pinhead. Place the rod in the hinge pin tool. Hit the tip of the rod with the ball pen until the rod has flattened out. The diameter of the head should be no larger than the diameter of the rod plus two times the thickness of the sheet metal. File the head smooth.

  3. 3

    Assemble the hinge. Put the two hinge segments together so the barrel segments mesh. Insert the pin into the barrel.

Tips and warnings

  • If the metal plate or rod you are using is too thick to comfortably bend, you can heat the metal with a blowtorch before working it. Use safety equipment if you do this.
  • Use goggles and gloves when metal working.
  • Work on a solid surface and use a vice to hold anything that may move.

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