Using H Hinges

Today while at lunch I was busy trying to sketch a project that I was designing as a tall laundry room cupboard for my house when a fellow co-worker/woodworker stopped to take a look.

While we were talking about the piece, why I was designing it and what it would be used for, he made a comment that my project had a flush mounted door.  He then went on to tell me how he hated flush mounted doors because you have to chisel out the wood while installing the hinges.  He finished by telling me that the time wasn’t worth the effort in his eyes.

At that point I just kind of smiled and said I don’t do any of that.


At first he gave a quizitive look of “huh?” and then after a few seconds of letting what I said sink in, he said “please don’t tell me you just flush mount the butt hinges?”

That’s when I opened up my web browser and introduced him to “H” hinges.


His eyes lit up like a Christmas tree.  The look on his face was priceless.

So from there I went on to explain to him that I was introduced to the use of “H” hinges several years ago by a fellow woodworker as a way to do 2 things on a project:

  • To be able to install door hinges quickly and easily.
  • Also to add a little decoration to what might seem like a plain or dull looking project.

Ever since then I’ve always used “H” hinges on all of my flush door projects. I like the looks and ease of installation that I use them even if the piece is a reproduction or a commissioned piece.

As for installing them; well it couldn’t be easier!

  • First start off by laying your project on its back
  • Next place the door in the opening. (you may need to add some temporary supports)
  • Then using a rule, locate from the top and bottom of the door the location you want to place each hinge.
  • From here you want to pre-drill all of your pilot holes.
  • Dip the tips of your screws into a can of paste wax (used as a lubricant) and then install by hand.  (Make sure to just snug them lightly.  Anything else might cause the screw heads to snap off.)

In my eyes the ease of installation of the hardware, and look it gives a project, far outweigh not using them.

9 thoughts on “Using H Hinges

  1. deva says:

    okay. educate me. flush doors and inset doors. how do they differ? if there is a difference, i am assuming it is subtle to the eye but i am interested in how it differs in construction and application to period woodworking.


  2. Orion Henderson says:

    They are the same thing-interchangeable terms for the same type of door. Flush/inset doors nearly always signal better quality. Because the gap (reveal) shows all the way around the doors-the fit needs to be perfect. A 1/16″ variation in the gap will be quite obvious to the naked eye. There are some exceptions-period correct step back cupboards often have overlay (or offset) doors and are extremely well made. The typical example would be the cabinetry of a company like Crown Point Cabinetry, who makes all flush doors, compared to the cabinetry available at a big box store-which is all overlay. With overlay doors there are no visible gaps, and if the doors and frames are off it does not show.


  3. maggie says:

    I’m attempting to restore our 1920 kitchen. Part of this is installing inset shaker style doors on the original cabinet boxes. There are 16 doors – all different by 1/8″ – 1/4″. Sizing the doors was easy (planer, sander) – getting the hinges properly aligned on them is NOT. I’m finding that antique and repro hinges have a bit of wiggle to them making it hard to get a perfect alignment. I’m sure I’m missing something… Could you post a detailed step-by-step outline on how you align your H hinges so the door doesn’t warp when opened? Thanks!


  4. Orion says:

    Thanks for commenting Maggie. Aligning the doors is not really an issue of the hinges, it is an issue of getting the doors shimmed in place before locating the hinges. I would suggest shimming each door in to its ideal place, or as close as you can get, then lining up the hinges with the knuckle dead center in the reveal (gap between door and frame). Then marking the holes, predrilling, and finally screwing them on. Hinges need a little bit of wiggle, not much, otherwise the metal rubs too much and they don’t work right. Brass hinges, being largely machine made, will be more precise. Iron hinges will have a little more slop as the barrels are rolled around the pins by hand. If you are using handmade iron hinges I would leave a little extra room on the bottom for the door to drop a tiny bit. Hope this helps. Feel free to give us a call at 800-754-9127 if you would like to discuss it further.


  5. Robert says:

    I installed these h surface hinges on Shaker style frame and panel doors in a cabinet that looks like the second picture above except with four doors. The doors won’t close flush on the sides that open (where the knobs are, not where the hinges are). What causes this and how do I fix it? The doors were square before installation. There is a shelf inside; is it possible the stiles with the hinges are pressing against the shelf, which causes the door to jut out on the other side? I find a lot of discussions of how to fix problems like this with mortised hinges but these are surface mount h hinges. Thanks for any help!


  6. orion says:

    Robert: Did you build the piece yourself or is this a retrofit? Can you email me through the site ( with some pictures? I think I can help but I would like to see it.


  7. Robert says:

    I fixed it! And I think I know what caused the doors to stick out. This is a Shaker style sideboard I am making from scratch.

    I suspect the stiles were a hair thicker than the face frame, causing the stiles to protrude just enough into the cabinet to touch the interior shelf which kept the doors from closing all the way. I shaved the edge of the shelf with a low angle block plane and a bullnose plane and finished by touching up with a bench chisel.

    The shelf is set into a sliding dovetail with room in the back so hopefully it will expand towards the back not towards the doors in the future and I won’t need to shave the shelf again. The finish is Tried & True oil so it will not be a problem wiping the edge with a coat or two or three so it matches the rest of the piece.

    When I lay the doors on a flat surface outside the case they lay flat. When I placed them in the case without the hinges they fit fine. It was only when I tightened the hinges on the case that the opposite side of the door would open a little.
    The sides of the stiles were not touching the case.

    I had mounted similar hinges on a similar door on a small pine cabinet with interior shelves with no problems. I suspect the frame and stiles were the same thickness on that cabinet.



  8. Rick says:

    Why are H hinges 5 times more expensive than your standard hinges? I need a set of Antique Brass and I can not find them cheaper than 35.00 per set.


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