Choosing the Right European Hinge

in Cabinets & Furniture

european self-close inset hinge and hinge plate Cabinet hinges come in all types of styles & finishes to suit virtually any situation. European-style hidden hinges are one of the easiest to find and install. But you still need to choose the right type for your cabinet style.

What are European hinges?

European or "Euro" hinges are two-piece hinges consisting of a hinge cup and a mounting plate. The hinge "cup" is mounted on the door in a flat bottom hole drilled with a 35mm (1 3/8") forstner bit.

There are a wide variety of mounting plates, all designed for specific mounting situations. As with any cabinet or woodworking project, you should scope out and select the hinge hardware you’re going to use before starting the project. The choice will also depend on whether the cabinets are Face Frame or Frameless.

Three basic Euro hinge types

framed cabinet with inset european hinge Although there are other options to consider when selecting your hinges, like opening angle (typically, 110, 120 or 170 degrees), soft closers and mounting plates, there are three basic door configurations that need a specific hinge type:

  • Full Overlay
  • Partial Overlay
  • Inset


Full overlay hinges

This is likely the most common type of Euro hinge typically found on Frameless cabinets. If each cabinet is a separate unit, you would use a full overlay hinge – which means when the door is closed, the door fully covers the edge of the gable (Note: it’s common to leave 1/16" gap at the outer edge to allow proper clearance with adjacent doors. 

Partial Overlay

You’re more likely to need partial overlay hinges on face frame cabinets with overlay doors. Overlays are typically 3/8" to 1/2". If the edge of the frame at the door opening is not flush to the cabinet gable, you need to choose a mounting plate specifically designed to mount on the edge of the face frame. Partial overlay hinges for Frameless cabinets are made for situations when two doors are hinged from a single 3/4" partition. In this case, each door overlays the edge by slightly less than 3/8" leaving a slight reveal between them.frameless cabinet with partial and full overlay hinges



Inset

Inset hinges can be used on either framed or frameless cabinets. We build our face frame cabinets so the interior width of the cabinet is only 1/16" wider than the door opening. Since each gable is only 1/32" away from the frame opening we can mount the hinge plates for flush inset doors directly on the gable exactly as you would on a frameless cabinet. There are adapter plates for partial overlay hinges that allow you to inset doors on a conventional face frame cabinet where the cabinet interior is wider than the door opening.framed cabinet with hinge options



Specialty hinges

You can get Euro hinges to suit almost any special situation such as:

  • 45 degree corners
  • Bifold doors
  • Glass doors with narrow frames
  • Thick doors

You’ll likely only find the most common types at your local building supply store so you may need to order from a specialty supplier. You can find a full selection of Euro hinges (and a bunch of other types as well) with excellent descriptions and installation details at Hardware Source.com.

Adjustable after installation

blum bi-fold hinge - pair Another feature on most Euro hinges that’s really handy is the ability to adjust them in three directions after you install them.

  • Vertically – typically by adjusting plate mounting screws
  • Horizontally – dedicated adjustment set screw
  • In-out – adjusted with screw that attaches cup hinge to mounting plate

Use all three adjustments to achieve a consistent reveal on all edges and prevent doors from binding on the cabinet or each other when opening and closing.

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