“We’d like to install cabinet doors with concealed hinges. How do we do that?” —Jeffrey Odenwald, Chesapeake, Va.
Cabinetmaker Steve Roca replies: Whether you’re hanging new doors, as I’m doing here for a hallway cabinet, or swapping out old hinges, concealed or European hinges are a dream to install. Unlike the butt or knife hinges often used in kitchen cabinets, they can be adjusted along three axes with the turn of a screwdriver, so you can easily fine-tune the door’s fit.
Concealed hinges can go in face-frame or frameless cabinets and on any door type—including full overlay, partial overlay, or inset—as long as the doors are at least ½ inch thick. The hinges I’m using are for frameless cabinets with inset doors.
To find the hinge that will work with your door type, consult the hinge company’s online brochures and customer service line. Then, with the right hinges in hand, follow the steps below to install them.
Concealed Cabinet Hinges in 9 Steps
1. Mark The Door
- Use a combination square to mark a line on the back of the door parallel with the hinge-side edge and inset ⅞ inch.
- Then make marks across this line 3½ inches from the top and bottom edges, as shown. The point where the lines intersect marks the center of the hole for the hinge cup, the part that recesses into the door.
2. Drill the Cup Holes
- To drill the flat-bottomed hole for the cup, you'll need a 35-millimeter Forstner bit. Mark a depth line ½ inch up the side of the bit, position it on the center point, and bore into the door until you hit the line.
- Blow out the shavings and test-fit the cup to make sure the hinge flanges touch the door surface.
- Drill the remaining cup holes.
3. Install the Hinge Cups
- Press the hinge cups into the holes. Position a rafter square, as shown, to keep the hinge aligned.
- Using a 7/64-inch self-centering drill bit, drill pilot holes through the screw holes in the flanges on both sides of the cup, as shown. Drive ⅝-inch #6 wood screws into these holes to anchor each cup.
4. Mark the Cabinet
- Shim the door in place with an even gap all around, and measure the gap; 1/16 inch is standard.
- Remove the door, and use a combination square to mark a vertical line on the cabinet's side panel 2¼ inches from the front edge.
- Then make a horizontal line, as shown, 3½ inches—plus the gap—from the top and bottom of the opening.
5. Install the Mounting Plate
- Remove the mounting plate from the hinge. Align its three screw holes with the intersecting layout lines on the side panel.
- Using the self-centering bit, drill pilot holes through the plate's holes, then attach the plate with the ⅝-inch #6 screws, as shown.
- Do the same for each hinge.
6. Mount the Door
- Hold the door in the open position and hook the hinges onto their mounting plates, as shown.
- Press on the bars to snap them in place against the plates. Now close the door and check the reveal.
7. Adjust Side to Side
With a Clip-top Blumotion hinge, all you need to fine-tune the position of a cabinet door is a #2 Pozidriv screwdriver. (A #2 Phillips-head can strip the hinge's screws.)
- Problem: Uneven or insufficient gap between adjacent doors, or door doesn't align with cabinet frame.
- Solution: Turn front screw clockwise to push hinge edge of door closer to cabinet side, counterclockwise to pull hinge end away from side.
8. Adjust Up and Down
- Problem: Top and bottom of door don't align horizontally with adjacent door or cabinet edge.
- Solution: Turn middle screw clockwise to shift door up, counterclockwise to shift it down.
9. In and Out
- Problem: Door swings open, or doesn’t close flush against cabinet opening.
- Solution: Turn rear screw clockwise to pull hinge edge of door toward cabinet, counterclockwise to push hinge edge away from cabinet.