How to Make Cabinet Fittings

The two main problems you will encounter with storage cupboards are putting on doors and dealing with fittings such as catches and handles.


Hanging doors calls for care and neatness if the finished job is to look acceptable. The framework must be rigid if the door is to be hung within it. You can use a piano hinge screwed directly to the edge of the door or you can use butt hinges which have to be let into the edge of the door and the cabinet side. In either case, the door must be carefully fitted into the framework so that it will show about 1 5mm joint all around when it is hung. With a piano hinge you will need to make the door equal to the width of the opening less 1.5mm and the thickness of the hinge. Butt hinges need an even joint all around as they are let into the wood.

It is obvious that to make a good job takes a little extra care and if the framework is not rigid it will move slightly when the door is hung and cause it to bind at some point.

These problems can be overcome by having the door laid on the face of the framework. It will then be cut to the same size as the outer dimensions of the cabinet with no need to plane it to an accurate joint. There are two types of lay-on hinge, one that is partly let into the door and one that simply screws into place.

The lay-on hinge is screwed to the door allowing for the thickness of the cabinet side. The door is then hung with the hinge screwed flush with the front of the cabinet. This hinge can also be used for inset doors if the hinge is screwed to the side of the cabinet set back the thickness of the door and also set back from the edge of the door the thickness of one leaf of the hinge.

The other type of hinge for lay-on doors has a round boss on one leaf that has to be let into the door. A special end mill bit is necessary for boring the blind hole. An ordinary bit has the centre point too long and it will pierce the front of the door before the hole is deep enough. The best end mills, which are 26 or 35mm diameter, have built-in depth stops to ensure that the holes are milled to exactly 12.5mm deep.

Holes are 3mm from the edge of the door

which makes 20.5mm to the centre of the hole for 35mm diameter and 16mm from the edge for the 26mm diameter holes. The boss is set into the hole and screwed into place. Then the door is offered up and the cabinet marked so the base plates can be screwed into position. Next, the door is hung by screwing the leaf of the hinge on to the plate where the correct closure of the door can be adjusted by two screws.

Handles, catches and hinges

Hinges are available in patterns to suit any cabinet. The most popular for kitchen cabinets is the concealed type that gives the door a pivoting action so that the cabinet can be fixed close into a corner. Some of these hinges incorporate a spring so that the door locks itself into the open or closed position, doing away with the need for a separate catch.

The simplest hinge for a glass door has a pivot action. A hole is drilled about 10mm deep in the top and the bottom of the cabinet and a plastic bush is inserted. Into this bush fits the pivot of the hinge, then the glass is slid into its channel where it is held in place by grub screws.

Handles must be chosen to suit the cabinet and its location. For kitchens, robust metal channels are generally used as they will stand up to heavy use. The more decorative handles used for lounge or bedroom furniture can be in wood or metal and may screw into the face of the door or drawer or, in the case of the ringpull types in brass, they need to be carefully let into the surface to produce a flush finish.

Magnetic catches are the easiest to fix and are neat in appearance. Some catches are of the touch-latch type which open partly at a light touch allowing the door to be fully opened. Spring operated touch latches are also available. In all cases fitting involves screwing the catch to the framework; recessing or drilling is not often required.

Bolts for the insides of double doors such as wardrobes and bookcases are usually in brass and are flat, not round. They may screw directly to the door or they may be let into the surface.

Adjustable shelves can be provided in bookcases by means of slotted strips screwed to the sides of the cabinet. A small clip fits into the horizontal slots to support the shelves. Four strips are required for each cabinet.

More difficult to position accurately, but less obtrusive, are shelf studs. These need carefully set out and drilled holes into which the studs are pushed. Two columns are required at each side of the cabinet.

Sliding door gear is obtainable in all sizes from simple channels to heavy overhead rollers. It is necessary to choose from the range made for the weight and type of door which you wish to hang.

Whatever type of cabinet you are preparing to build, always ensure that the fittings of the type you need are obtainable in the sizes you require before starting work. It is best to have all the fittings to hand at the outset, otherwise you could get into problems if you look for fittings only after the work is well advanced — well thought out planning is essential.

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