Calculating Cabinet Hinge Overlay & Door Size

November 11, 2019 10:52 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Whether you are a professional cabinet maker or a DIY’er; measuring, calculating and installing european cabinet hinges can be a daunting task. As manufacturer’s representatives to the woodworking industry we get a lot of calls with questions regarding the installation and measuring of european concealed cabinet hinges. The overlay is how far the cabinet door will cover or “overlay” the box or face frame of the cabinet. Read more below to see the factors that need to be taken into account when determining hinge overlay and cabinet door sizes.

Determine Cabinet Type

Frameless Cabinet Construction

The first and most common method world wide is a frameless cabinet. Frameless cabinets are more commonly call “full-access” or “euro”. A frameless cabinet is a box that has a thin edging to cover exposed edges called Edgebanding. Edgebanding is normally a thin wood or PVC/ABS that normally comes in standard thicknesses of 0.18″, 0.20″, 1MM, 2MM or 3MM. The main benefit to building a frameless cabinet verse a face-frame cabinet is the flexibility of materials available. Frameless cabinets can be made from wood, laminates, textured melamines and other materials while face-frame cabinets are more limited to solid wood and painted options.

Face Frame Cabinet Construction

Face frame cabinet construction is a very popular method of construction in the United States. Face frame cabinet construction has long been used for its superior weight capacities and ease of construction. A face frame cabinet is just what it sounds like, instead of edging with a thin edgebanding a face frame is applied to the cabinet box. A face frame cabinet has a lot more “wiggle” room for errors and overall is more rigid.

Both methods of construction serve a purpose in cabinet making and there is not one clear method for constructing and building cabinets. Frameless cabients are great when various materials are required and more accessible space is desired. Face frame cabinets are great when a traditional look with a rigid frame is desired. Depending on which cabinet construction method you choose or are selecting hinges for will determine how you go about measuring and selecting your hinges.

Calculate Desired Overlay

Because european concealed hinges were developed in Europe, and the most common method of cabinet construction used in Europe is a frameless box, a lot of the parameters for working with these hinges are based on building a frameless cabinet. Many hinge manufacturer’s whether it be Blum, Grass, Comtrad or Hettich use the terms full and half overlay. Do not confuse the term half overlay with 1/2″ overlay. Full and Half overlay refer to the overlay that is acheived when using a standard 0mm plate and the respective hinge. A full overlay hinge will “fully” overlay a 3/4″ panel and a half overlay hinge will cover half of a 3/4″ panel.

There are 4 factors to look at in order to determine your final cabinet door overlay:

  • Overall Door Size
  • Hinge Overlay (Full, Half or Inset)
  • Tab Distance (Hinge Bore Distance)
  • Hinge Base Plate Thickness

Overall Door Size

This is the simplest and you can calculate this very easily. If you have a single door cabinet take the opening and add your desired overlay to each edge of the door. If you have a double door divide the opening by two and add your desired overlay to 3 of the edges and the center edge subtract your desired door gap and divide by 2.

Hinge Overlay, Tab and Hinge Base Plate

Hinge overlay, tab distance and your hinge base plate selection all go together in determining your final overlay. Please refer to our hinge overlay chart to help you determine which hinge and plate is right for you! HINGE OVERLAY CHART. The tab or bore distance is the distance from the edge of your cabinet door to the edge of your concealed hinge boring hole. standard distances range from 3-7MM, but the most common is 5MM. Base plates are available in various thicknesses ranging form 2-6MM.

Hinge Installation

After you have determined your desired overlay and selected your hinge we can move to hanging the doors! A Face Frame cabinet is much easier to hang cabinet doors than a Frameless.

Face Frame, Hanging Cabinet Doors

For a face frame cabinet we will give one example of a way to mount your doors, there are hundreds of ways to hang your cabinet doors, but we have found this way works best for us! Drill your hinge bore hole 3.5″ from the top of your cabinet door and mount one hinge base plate to the top of your cabinet on the inside of the face frame stile, 2″ down from the top rail. You can then clip your cabinet door to this plate that is mounted and snap on, then mount the bottom plate to the cabinet stile. That’s it!

Frameless, Hanging Cabinet Doors

For a frameless cabinet it is a little more complicated and requires greater accuracy. For this example we will use metric rather than imperial. Most frameless cabinet shops use metric because it is easier to read small increments in MM than INCHES. For a frameless cabinet you will still drill your hinge bore on your cabinet door 3.5″ down from the top of the door. The base plates will be mounted using a specific frameless base plate. These are industry standard mounted 37MM back from the edge of the cabinet panel to the center of the screw mounting slots on the base plate. For our example with a hinge bored 3.5″ top of cabinet door to center of the hinge bore. You will mount the base plates 57MM from the top edge of the cabinet panel to the first center hole on your frameless base plate. Frameless base plates are all 32MM center to center.

We hope this article helps you with your cabinet door installation! If this is a popular topic of interest we will update this blog post with some helpful images and a better step by step instruction list. European hinges are the most popular hinges for cabinet doors. They look like they are very complicated, but once you understand the standard measurements and function of the hinge they are very simple! Please refer to our COMTRAD PAGE for more information on available hinge options.

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This post was written by Alma Sales

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