A hinge jig is a must for drilling cabinet hinge holes for concealed hinges. As you know (or can guess) drilling a 35mm hole about 1/2″ deep in a cabinet door isn’t easy to undo. So rather than damage that door you’ve labored over, use a concealed hinge jig for your doors and save time (and money). In this article learn what types of hinge jigs are available and what’s best for you.
While it’s tempting to freehand concealed hinge holes the risk of damaging your project isn’t worth it.
Instead, and for the cost of a few hinges, you can use a concealed hinge jig to make sure your hinges are properly placed.
In this guide learn:
- Types of cabinet hinge jigs
- Best door hinge jigs for concealed (aka European) hinges
- How to use a cabinet hinge jig
- Alternatives to a a hinge jig
- Tips and tricks to using a jig properly
- Accessories to consider
What is a cabinet hinge jig?
If you haven’t made cabinet doors with concealed hinges you might not know this jig exists.
However, concealed hinges require a jig to ensure three things happen:
- First the hinge cup is drilled to a precise depth
- Second the cup must be placed an exact distance from the door edge for proper hinge operation
- Lastly, the hinge must be located at the right location to clear cabinet frames and shelves.
And all of these tasks benefit greatly from a concealed hinge jig as it will put the hinge cup hole in EXACTLY the right location and with a drill stop, allow you to set a precise and repeatable depth to the hole.
Who Makes THem: Manufacturers
In woodworking if you say “jig” then a blue brand named Kreg jumps to almost all woodworkers minds. So, of course, they offer a hinge jig.
But surprisingly, there just aren’t any other major manufacturers other than knock-off brands you’ll find at online retailers. Which, for a few dollars more, there’s no reason other than to go with the Kreg KHI-HINGE jig for brand reputation.
Alternatives to a cabinet door hinge jig
Since depth and placement are critical there is one alternative to a cabinet hinge jig: a drill press with proper setup and an edge guide.
To use a drill press for setting up and drilling concealed hinge cup holes you’ll need to follow the same steps as for a hinge jig:
- Locate your hinge location
- Use an edge guide to control distance of hinge cup from door edge
- And lastly use the drill press depth control to set the proper depth
In fact, for larger door runs, this setup can be easier than a jig. But, for smaller jobs, the hinge jig is faster, portable and less bulky to store.
Types of Cabinet Hinge Jigs
While the options aren’t many, there are a few variations in the designs of these hinge jigs, as we’ll review now.
1. Classic Kreg Hinge Jig
For most woodworkers the classic Kreg jig is all you’ll need. With adjustable indexing guides, built-in measuring scales, and compatibility with any drill you’ll find this Kreg hinge jig will make quick work of even larger jobs.
2. Budget Concealed Hinge JIg With Forstener Bit
Looking very much like the Kreg jig, this budget-minded jig comes complete with a decent quality forstner bit to drill the hinge cup holes.
3. Compact Concealed Hinge JIg with Bit
This jig cuts down the plastic by about 90% and has a no-frills approach to providing a simple yet adjustable hinge jig for your concealed cabinet doors. The only drawback? You’ll find the hinge screw holes might not fit your cabinet hinge of choice.
4. Simple Hidden Hinge Jig for Small Projects
Not sure you’ll have another project and don’t want to shell out a lot of money for you project? As you can tell this jig is not as featured filled as the Kreg concealed hinge jig, but for marking hinge cup centers and hinge screw holes this jig will do the basics.
An alternative to this hidden hinge jig, however, could be careful measurement and a self-centering drill bit.
How to Use a Hidden Hinge JIg
Mounting concealed hinges takes a little bit of planning as the hole you’ll drill is large and cannot be undone.
So, first things first, you’ll want to make sure your cabinets and doors are all ready to go. Then, following the manufacturers instructions, install your hinges using the jig in steps as follows:
- Always use a test scrap of wood the same thickness.
- Setup the test piece, and jig by making sure the jig is the proper distance from the edge.
- Then, drill two hinge holes the proper depth (go shallow, work your way to just the right depth).
- Switching to a different drill, use a self centering drill bit to drill the hinge bit holes.
- Lastly, install your test strip and make sure the hinges clear and everything things.
And only then, start doing doors one at a time and test as you go.
Tips to Using a Cabinet Hinge Jig
- Always use a high quality carbon steel forstener bit for the smoothest cuts
- Use a bit collar on the forstner bit and always start shallow
- Never skip pilot holes in your hinges. A vix bit is a good tool to have.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best hinge jig?
For concealed doors the best jig will have three features. First, it will have adjustable indexing to set the hinge cup hole the proper distance. Second a guide will be used to hold a forstner bit vertical and provide a stop for the bit guide. Lastly, the jig will have holes to pre-drill the hinge screw holes.
What size forstner bit is used to drill concealed hinge holes?
A 35mm hinge hole is the standard size concealed hinge hole size.
Does a forstner drill bit a flat bottom hole?
Yes, forstner bits are unique in that they drill flat bottom holes.
Now that you’ve found the best cabinet hinge jig you’ll need to use one of the right soft close cabinet hinges with it for the best performing door. Be sure to check out our guide to the best soft close cabinet hinges.