Sunday, 25 March 2012

Cupboard doors

It seems like months ago Mad for Mod asked for a tutorial on how I hinge a door without the hinge or pivot pin being visible. I'm horrendously behind on my 'to do' list. A virus has knocked me off my feet so I've done absolutely swap items, no tutorials, no mini's. Boowah!

Snot-filled self pity aside, this is how I hinge a door.

As per usual, this tutorial isn't the low down on how it should be done, just how I do it. I use pins to pivot the doors simply because I dislike the look of the electro plated brass hinges available and I'm too damn lazy to make my own.

I'm going to presume that if you're at a stage where you want to make working doors then you already know how to measure and cut the components for whatever piece of furniture you're making. To make this simple, I'm going to use a basic carcass with one opening cupboard legs or handles. 

The cupboard frame is a basic rectangle. I've cut the back and door exactly the same size, the divider is the height of the door x the depth of the cupboard minus the thickness of the wood used for the door and back together. (?) that makes far more sense in my head...

I always use piano wire for the hinge pin because it is super strong yet has some give in it. You can use embroidery pins with the heads snipped off or's up to you. The wood I'm using for the door is 1.5mm kings wood so I've picked 0.5mm piano wire and a 0.5mm drill bit.

This is the fiddly portion of the tutorial. My wood is 1.5mm thick so I've measured 0.75mm (half the thickness), from one edge and used a 0.5mm drill bit to drill a hole running vertically up the door. If you have a drill press this is going to be much simpler. If not (like me), you are going to discover very quickly what a pain in the arse miniatures can be! The hole doesn't have to be very deep...3mm maybe. Once the whole piece is glued together you will see that the pin can't 'slip' out of place.

Snip a small piece of piano wire (or whatever you are using), and put the tiniest dab of superglue on one end. Insert the pin into the hole you've drilled and let the glue dry.

Now take the base and one side of your cupboard and sit it against a right angle, without gluing it together.

Use a marker pen to dab ink onto the end of the pin.

Carefully place the door into the frame. Now at this point you need to leave a whiskers gap between the door and cupboard frame so that it can open freely once it is all glued together. I haven't shown this in the photo *doh* but I normally put a piece of printing paper in between the door and frame to get that gap. Push the door towards the base of the cupboard so that the pin (which has marker ink on it) marks where the hinge pin needs to go.

See. Tiny little red dot

Use the same size drill bit (0.5mm) and set it to half the thickness of the wood on the frame. This way, when you drill it you won't go straight through the wood. Drill straight down on the teeny red dot.

You now need to do the same thing for the top of the frame with the hinge pin in the top of the door.

At this point you can start gluing. The first piece I glue is the base and one side. It's virtually impossible to hold these pieces together with clamps so I use a perfectly square block of wood to hold against it. You'll see in the picture that the block I use has one corner sanded down. Let me explain...

This is a building block that I've checked with a set square. Its corners are exactly 90 degrees. On one corner, I've sanded away the edge so that when you are gluing wood against it, it doesn't stick to the block.

This photo is looking at the cupboard from above, without the top on. It's important to glue all of the internal bits together before constructing the rest of the outside frame. The back and divider are glued into place (using the building block to make sure everything is square) and the door is set in place. You can see that the divider is placed so that when the door is shut, it is flush along the frame

This is from the front. Before everything is glued together, make sure you put on your chosen door handle. It is far easier to drill a hole for the handle when the door is lying down flat rather than in the cupboard. Also, give the door a try. It should open smoothly without any resistance against the frame

Once you are happy, dab glue on the edges that are to be glued, site the top pin into place and clamp the whole unit together until it dries.

That's it.

I'm off for one or five medicinal drinks

Enjoy the rest of the weekend
Pepper =0)


  1. Ahhh, that little bit of marker pen ink on the pin is such a great idea, thanks!! I've been using pin hinges on a few projects and have always struggled with this issue of lining up the pin and where the corresponding hole needs to be.

    Hope you are feeling heaps better very soon.

  2. Great project. Thanks for posting

  3. Hi, wonderful work and wonderful tutorial!

  4. Thank you so much for this tutorial! Now I have to do it my self ;)!!
    Kind regards, Ilona

  5. Hi Pepper, Thanks so much for the tutorial! I can't wait to try it out. I had forgotten about the marker to place where the pin should go. Awesome!

  6. Thank you so much for the tutorial.


  7. Un gran tutorial. El minitaladro es increíblemente pequeño! Una joya
    Un abrazo

  8. That's a very crisp finish, great work!! We used to have a cupboard something like that in our house when I was young!

  9. Pepper, I'm sorry you've been under the weather. Thanks for this tutorial. I will soon try this myself. Can you tell me where to purchase piano wire? Thanks much!

    1. Hi Angie,
      you can buy piano wire in just about any model making supply shop.

  10. Thank you all for the kind comments =0)

  11. Thank you very much for the great tutorial!

  12. Grazie per questo utilissimo tutorial!

  13. You are just way too clever Pepper!

    The tutorial is so easy to understand with great photos, I think you must be a perfectionist!

    Fi xx

  14. This is so timely, I don't believe it. I've been struggling with measurements all this time and you show me a marvelously easy way to locate the spot to drill the hole in my "box." I'll be making 1§ kits to teach making a Murphy bed to my club members and this just made my job so much easier! A very grateful reader!

    1. Thank you everyone.

      Thanks Anon. I've learned so much from other blogs so it's nice if I can add to the 'how to' pile and save someone else the time. Good luck with the Murphy beds =0)

  15. Hi Pepper..just noticed your tut mentions that "you know how to cut and measure your piece.." Well I've never really been taught and ALL my cuts are askew. Just tried to make a settle bench and ... I'm not happy with my work, it looks sloppy even though I feel I really tried my best. Could you give us a rundown on exactly how to cut and measure including any tips or pointers we should know? Or where I should look to learn these most basic but mandatory techniquesMini hugs and BIG love...
    BTW This is my first year making and collecting mini's..won't you follow along and lend me a hand when you can?? Thank you love.

  16. Hi Natasha,
    I will write a tips tutorial for some of the basics =0)and yes, I'll happily follow.