While it's easy to understand what a hinge does, choosing and installing one on a chest is a different matter. A variety of basic hinge types are well-adapted for lid to box applications, such as hinges that hide, hinges that provide extra strength and hinges that allow maximum opening. If you've ever walked into a well stocked hardware store's hinge aisle, you understand how overwhelming the choices can be. However, with a general knowledge of what to look for, you'll be able to sort through the massive array of hinges to find the kind that's right for a chest.
Interior Chest Hinge
Attached to a chest's interior, this type of hinge gives the exterior a smooth, finished look. An interior chest hinge attaches to both the underside of the chest's lid and to the back side of the interior box. Unlike a door hinge, the pin for an interior chest hinge cannot be removed. To detach the chest's lid from its box, this hinge's fasteners must be removed. The bottom, or box-attached portion, of this type of hinge often appears as a 90-degree angle so that it both rests upon the box's rim and curls over to the interior of the box for fastening. This type of hinge is sometimes simply called a "chest hinge".
The surface mounted hinge attaches to a chest's exterior. This type of hinge features one large side, or plate, with a hole that allows the entry of the other, smaller plate. This design allows the small plate to fold, fit into and rest flush with the large plate. Therefore, the lid of a chest equipped with surface-mounted hinges can open, fold over and sit flush against the back of its box. Surface mounted hinges rarely feature removable pins.
The Continuous Hinge
The continuous hinge, also called the "piano" hinge, stretches across the entire length of a chest's backside. This type of hinge is literally one continuous, hinged piece of metal. Because of its multiple fastening points and the breadth of its connection, the piano hinge creates a very dependable and strong connection between a chest's lid and box. Piano hinges are most often attached as a "full-mortise" hinge, meaning that one of its sides, or metal plates, attaches to the chest lid's rim and the other to the box's rim. When the chest is closed the hinged portion of the plates sticks out the back of the chest.