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Woodworking with P. Michael Henderson


Installing Quadrant Hinges without a Router

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Some time back, I volunteered to do a tutorial on installing quadrant hinges on a box, such as a jewelry box, without using a router. 

I said the next time I built a box, I'd document the installation of the quadrant hinges in a tutorial. But I didn't have any plans to build a small box so it was looking like the tutorial would not occur for some time.

However, Scott Krallman of Post Falls, ID volunteered to ship me a box he made to use for the tutorial. 

When he made his offer, and I accepted, I didn't know what the box looked like.  Then he sent me some pictures - see next.

What I discovered was that his box was a veneered box and the decorative edging was wenge.  The difficulty with his veneer pattern is that if the hinges are not put on exactly right, the veneer will not line up and it'll be obvious that something's wrong.  The problem with the wenge trim is that I'll have to cut through the wenge to install the hinges.

Wenge is a hard wood that splits fairly easily.  Not the easiest wood to work with.  So installing the hinges is going to be a challenge, even more than usual when installing quadrant hinges.

Before I get into discussing how to install the hinges, let me talk a bit about how boxes are generally made - because the technique I use depends upon the box being made this way.  Most boxes are made as a closed box first (a cube), and then the top is cut off of the cube.  Doing it that way guarantees that the top is exactly the same size as the bottom of the box, and that the grain (or decoration) lines up.

When the box is built this way, the first step is to make sure the top is matched to the bottom, exactly the way it was cut off of the bottom.  This means that the top will fit and the grain will match. 

It's possible that when you made the box, it may have been slightly out of square when you glued up.  If you put the top on correctly, no one will ever notice. But if you reverse the top, you'll never get the top to fit correctly - and the grain will not line up.

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