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How to install cabinet doors with European hinges

Updated February 21, 2017

A European hinge is invisible when the cabinet door is closed. It consists of a small, round plug that sets into a hole drilled in the back of the door, and a plate that screws to the side of the cabinet. The advantage of a European hinge is that the door can be adjusted forward and back, left and right, and up and down, without unscrewing and re-screwing the components. This is because the two parts of the hinge, the plug and the plate, are connected to each other by a mechanism that can be adjusted with a screwdriver. In addition, because the hinges are invisible from the front, they give cabinet doors a sleek and minimal appearance. Installing cabinet doors with European hinges isn't difficult.

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  1. Drill two holes into the back of the cabinet door, using a 35mm (9/64 inch) drill bit. Set a depth gauge on your drill press so that you don't drill through the front of the door. One-half inch is deep enough for the hinge to set properly. Some types of European hinges also require two 8 mm (10/32 inch) holes. For these, you'll need a jig to set all the holes precisely.

  2. Press the round plug part of the hinge into the hole and secure it by drilling a small pilot hole into each of the screw holes, and installing the screws with a screwdriver.

  3. Measure the distance from the vertical centre of the hinge to the top edge of the door, using a measuring tape. Add 1.6 mm (1/16 inch) to this measurement. Measure this distance down from the top of the door opening and mark the cabinet there with a pencil, on the side where the door hinges will be installed.

  4. Separate the hinge plate from the hinge plug that you have just installed. A small lever is at the point where the plug and the plate meet. Press on this lever and the two parts will separate. Screw the plate to the side of the door opening, with its vertical centre at the mark you made. You now have a door with two hinge plugs installed on its back, and a door opening with two hinge plates installed on its side.

  5. Lift the door and, holding it in an open position, re-engage the connection between the plug and the plates that you disconnected earlier. These should click together with a little pressure.

  6. Close the door gently for a test fit. You'll probably have to adjust it either up or down, in or out, or to the left or right, or all three. Make these adjustments with the mechanisms at the centre of the hinges, using a screwdriver.

  7. Tip

    Some European hinges are self-closing, while others are not. Shelf closing hinges should automatically hold the door closed by pressing it against the fronts of the shelves inside the cabinet. If your hinges are not self-closing, you may need to install a magnetic catch inside the door to hold it closed when you shut it.


    Be careful when you set the depth on your drill press. If you drill through the front of the door, you will ruin it. Test the depth first on a piece of scrap wood.

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Things You'll Need

  • Drill press
  • 35 mm (9/64 inch) drill bit
  • Screwdriver
  • Pencil
  • Work bench
  • Measuring tape

About the Author

Jagg Xaxx has been writing since 1983. His primary areas of writing include surrealism, Buddhist iconography and environmental issues. Xaxx worked as a cabinetmaker for 12 years, as well as building and renovating several houses. Xaxx holds a Doctor of Philosophy in art history from the University of Manchester in the U.K.

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