Concealed Hinge for Cabinet Doors

Ultimate guide to concealed hinges – 6 types of hidden hinges [2020]

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Concealed hinges are so popular that if you look at any new kitchen you’ll notice the hinges aren’t visible.  Building a cabinet and looking for the best concealed hinge? Or, perhaps you want to upgrade/replace your existing hinges with a soft close concealed hinge? We’ll cover all types of hidden hinges in this article.

When I first started building cabinets 25 years ago the concealed hinge style was just starting to emerge. 

While we used thousands of knife hinges a year in our projects, the European style concealed door hinge was starting to emerge into popularity.

And now it’s the only style of hinge I’ll use on any cabinet. 

In this article learn:

  • What a concealed hinge is (and isn’t)
  • Types of concealed hinges
  • Alternatives to a concealed door hinge
  • Best concealed hinges 
  • How to install concealed hinges on doors
  • Jigs and tools you’ll need for a quality job

And hey, BRAND matters when it comes to hinge. Which is why I use, and will show you, hinges from manufacturers like Blum who has industry best testing of their products and certifications to go with it.

What is a concealed hinge?

What is a concealed hinge

A concealed hinge is a style of hinge that is completely hidden once the cabinet door is closed. First, these hinges are typically made with a hinge “cup” that is drilled into the back of the cabinet door and then attached to the cabinet. By doing this, all screws and cabinet hardware are, as the name implies, concealed.

Other, more popular names for these hinges include Euro hinges or European hinges. 

Who Makes Them: Manufacturers

As with all types of cabinet hardware there are DOZENS of manufacturers of concealed hinges.

But, keeping things simple, there is only one manufacturer that I trust and use for my projects: Blum.

Why Blum?  Well consider they:

  • Apply rigorous testing to their own products through something called cycle testing. And, as you can guess, cycle testing is subjecting hinges to tens of thousands of simulated open and close cycles to ensure they operate.
  • And if that’s not enough, Blum uses BHMA certification (and others) to prove their product quality via an independent authority.

Alternatives to a concealed hinge

It’s always good to know what your options are.

And if you’re looking at hinges for cabinet doors, there are a few other options:

  • Surface mount (visible)
  • Wrap-around hinges
  • Inset hinges
  • Knife hinges
  • Flush / full inset hinges

Types of Concealed Hinges

While there are dozens of manufacturers there are fortunately a fairly limited count of concealed door hinge types. 

The following is a list of the variety of concealed hinges and how you can use them in your projects.

1. Compact Concealed Door Hinge for Face Frame Cabinets

Blum 38N concealed door hinge

The Blum 38N hinge is a compact, budget friendly hinge that features integrated soft close technology.

Recommended
Pros/Cons

If you’re looking for a budget concealed door hinge the Blum 38N is a great place to start. With all of the key features in a compact and easy to install form this hinge is excellent for:

  • Face frame cabinets
  • Applications for door openings up to 110-degrees
  • When soft close is desired
But, when can’t you use this type of concealed hinge? Frameless cabinets. 

2. Clip top Concealed Hinges for Face Frame or Frameless Cabinet Doors

Blum cliptop frameless cabinet doors

The ultimate concealed hinge is the clip top version that can be detached with no tools from your cabinets.

Recommended
Pros/Cons

When aesthetics of your project are important you’ll want to consider investing a bit more into the premium concealed hinge: the Blum clip top. 

First, this hinge gets it’s name from it’s ability to “clip” and un-clip from the cabinet-mounted base.

When to use this type of hinge? Consider:

  • Higher end kitchens
  • Furniture projects
  • When removing doors is occasionally needed (but I find this useful only during cabinet installation)
  • Glass cabinets where the hinges can be seen when the doors are closed

3. Wide Opening Concealed Door Hinges

Blum wide opening face frame 170-degree concealed hinge

For corner cabinets a Blum concealed door hinge that opens up to 170-degrees will give you wide access. Great for lazy susan cabinets.

Recommended
Pros/Cons

While I typically mount a lazy susan door directly to the lazy susan, another option for both base and upper cabinets is a wide opening concealed hinge. 

When else would you use this type of concealed hinge? Other options include:

  • Entertainment cabinets where you want to open the doors wide
  • Larger furniture cabinets such as wardrobes 
  • Display cabinets

4. Screw on Concealed Hinges

Blum screw on concealed hinge

For face frame cabinets the minimal size and compact design of a screw on hinge is budget friendly and easy to use

Recommended
Pros/Cons

This hinge is an alternative to the compact concealed cabinet door hinge like the Blum 38N. So when should you choose it? Consider using this hinge if:

  • You are building a cabinet where the interior will be visible (eg. glass sides). Since the hinge screws to the front of the face frame, when the door is closed there is NO hinge visible.

Since these require more precise installation, unless you really want to try out a new hinge I’d recommend something like the 38N for ease of installation.

5. Heavy Duty Concealed Door Hinges

Heavy Duty Concealed Door Hinges

Switching to another style of hinge, the mortised concealed hinges offer an installation in the edge of the door (vs. the door back). These HD versions are great for larger inset doors.

Recommended
Pros/Cons

This hinge is an alternative to the compact concealed cabinet door hinge like the Blum 38N. So when should you choose it? Consider using this hinge if:

  • You are building a cabinet where the interior will be visible (eg. glass sides). Since the hinge screws to the front of the face frame, when the door is closed there is NO hinge visible.

Since these require more precise installation, unless you really want to try out a new hinge I’d recommend something like the 38N for ease of installation.

6. Hydraulic Concealed Wardrobe Hinges

Heavy Duty Concealed Door Hinges

For larger wardrobe doors these hinges offer a higher weight capacity and wide opening

Recommended
Pros/Cons

As an alternative to clip tops, these concealed door hinges will provide a wide range of opening and do not require as deep of a hinge hole (great for thinner doors).

How to Use a Concealed Hinge

Concealed Hinge for Cabinet Doors

Like most hinges you’ll find there are a few tricks of the trade for designing, installing and adjusting the hinge. In this section we’ll take a look at a few of the key considerations for proper hidden hinge installation.

How to Install a Concealed Hinge

How to Install a Concealed Hinge

First time using this style of hinge? Well, fortunately there are a few easy steps you can take to improve the experience and avoid damaging to your project:

  1. Buy the right style of hinge
  2. Buy a hinge jig (more on that below)
  3. Before drilling any hole, use blue tape to mark the hinge side of each door.
  4. Then, layout the hinge location on the door and make sure it won’t interfere with the face frame (typically this happens if you place the hinge too low or high on the door edge)
  5. Drill your first hole in a TEST piece of wood the same thickness as your door.
  6. Adjust your drill press or jig stopper until the hinge cup hole is JUST deep enough to have the hinge lay flush.
  7. Drill and install a door to make sure you have the depth and hinge location correct 
  8. Use a self centering drill bit to drill the pilot holes for the door screws.

Tips to Using an Invisible Hinge

I’ll be the first to admit, there are a few things about the concealed hinge that make them tricky to use. But, with the right tools and some patience you’ll find you can install these hinges accurately and without damage to your project.

So, here’s 5 things to keep in mind:

  • Frameless vs. face frame. Be sure to buy the right style of hinge.
  • Overlay width. I ALWAYS plan my overlays on face frame cabinets and make my door widths for clean visual lines. Don’t be afraid to use a mix of 1/2″, 3/4″ or wider overlays to achieve a good visual appearance with concealed cabinet door hinges.
  • Use a jig. Never attempt to free-hand the hinge cup hole. I like to use a jig made just for this purpose with a stopper for the Forstener bit.
  • Buy soft closing. There is no sense to save a few dollars and go with a regular self closing hinge. Because soft close is so smooth you won’t regret it later.
  • Adjust & adjust. Once your project is finished and installed plan time to adjust your doors perfectly. I like to pick a reference door on the end of the cabinet or furniture, align it perfectly and then move door to door and align others.

Concealed Hinge JIgs

Kreg concealed hinge installation jig

A word of caution is sometimes helpful.

And when it comes to drilling 35mm holes in a door you’ve just spent hours or days making there’s just no sense in trying to free-hand your concealed hinge holes. So, be sure to use a jig like the Kreg concealed door hinge jig  to put your holes in the right spot. 

Lastly, check out our concealed hinge jig guide for more.

Using a 35MM Forstener Bit

If you haven’t figured out yet that (most) concealed hinges will require drilling a rather large hole in your door you’ll need to plan for this.

Fortunately, when paired with a jig, these bits are extremely easy to use. And, with a flat bottom hole design, you might find this style of drill bit has many other purposes.

Final tip? Be sure to test drilling on a scrap piece of wood and find the depth that JUST allows the hinge to be dropped in and fully seated. And, be extra cautious on doors with edge profiles to not drill thru them.

Three Things Not to Do With a [Product Name]

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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a concealed hinge?

A concealed hinge is a common type of hinge used in most kitchens to hide the hinge from the face of the cabinet when the door is closed. These hinges are popular in European countries and are now the standard in North America cabinetry. Using a hinge cup installed into the cabinet door, these hinges install on both face frame and frameless cabinets.

Is a hidden hinge the same as a concealed hinge?

While a hidden hinge serves the same purpose these hinges are designed differently. A hidden hinge is usually mortised into the edge of the cabinet door, while a concealed hinge is typically drilled into the back of the cabinet door using a 35mm forstener bit.

Summary

While a concealed hinge is a top quality type of hinge to use, it’s important to plan and be careful during installation. 

Interested in more cabinet articles? Be sure to check out our guides to:

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