School Header - Filing and Cleaning Hinges

Filing and Cleaning Hinges

Are you looking for a way to instantly increase the perceived value of your boxes and cabinets? This tutorial will show you how. (Hint: It's not as simple as polishing them)

There’s nothing worse than putting time and effort into a stunning box or cabinet, and then topping it off with cheap quality hinges. It’s like those wronguns who put Ketchup on steak.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s understandable if the steaks been cooked poorly. But if it’s well seasoned, fried to perfection, and been cooked by a master of their trade, why are you adding the stuff?! By adding something that shouldn’t be there, all you’re doing is taking something away. Don’t do the same for your woodwork.

The Problem With Cheap Hinges

Cheap hinges don’t only suffer with poor aesthetics. In the context of fine woodworking, they’re also rather inaccurate. If you have a pair stashed away somewhere, close the leaves together and check if the long edges are perfectly aligned with one another. I guarantee they’re not.

Even if by some miracle they are aligned, are the edges of the leaves square or are they slightly rounded? Because you’re not going to have much luck fitting a rounded edge into a square socket!

What you will learn

In this video, I’ll show you how to take these cheap hinges straight from the shelves of your local DIY store, and make them look 10 times more expensive than they actually are, and make them far easier to install accurately.

Do you ever need to buy expensive hinges?

Unless I need to use something specialist like a Knife Hinge or a Soss Hinge, I use cheap hinges for most of the cabinets I make. This is because the hinges are largely hidden behind the door frame, and using anything more expensive may seem a bit wasteful.

Boxes however are where I’d be tempted to invest in higher quality hinges. Purely because part of the experience with boxes is opening them up to see what’s inside. You want that moment to be as impactful as possible. That’s not to say cheap hinges won’t go amiss in some situations however.

Personally, I like using Side Rail hinges for my boxes as they have a built in stop, are easy to install, and look the part. But the trade off is that these are quite expensive.


In summary, it’s completely up to you what quality hinge you want to use. However when installing cheap hinges, at the very least I’d always recommend filing the edges flat and square because it makes the hinging process so much easier, accurate and predictable.

Even when making workshop furniture I will go through the process of filing the hinges. But I don’t always go as far as polishing the leaves. I save that elbow grease for the projects I really care about.

Leave a Reply