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Kitchen Cabinet & Vanity Hinges - Part 1

Part 2

When building or refurbishing your own kitchen cabinets or bathroom vanities, it is important to consider what type of hinges you are going to use. The hinges can provide aesthetic value to the cabinetry and in the same manner, nicely built cabinets or vanities that have hinges that do not match will make an excellent cabinet project bad.

Cabinet hinge parts
Figure 1 - Cabinet hinge parts

There are numerous different styles of hinges available and each style comes in assortment of finishes. In this article we will discuss the most common cabinet door hinge styles.


  • It is important to remember that the style of the hinge is not an indicator of the quality of the hinge. In each hinge style the homeowner can purchase low, medium and high quality hinges.
  • Some styles of hinges require that the door frame and/or panel be designed in order to mount the hinge. It is important to consider the door frame before buying your cabinet door hinges.
  • Kitchen and vanity cabinet doors generally take a lot of abuse. They are opened and closed frequently and it is not uncommon to add kitchen or bathroom storage modules to the cabinet doors themselves. Buying quality hinges is a good investment. It is also important to consider how many hinges will be installed on each door. High doors or extra wide doors may require three hinges to properly support the weight of the cabinet door.
  • Some hinges mount to the sides of the doors, others to the bottom and top of the door, while others must be purchased based on the thickness of the doors.

Basic hinge design:

While there are numerous styles of hinges they all work in the same manner and have four unique sections that make up the hinge mechanism, as shown in Figure 1.

Wings: There are two wings. One mounts to the cabinet or cabinet frame and the other mounts to the cabinet door. The wings do not have to be identical. In many cases each of the wings has a different shape and size with one wing designed to be specifically attached to the cabinet or cabinet frame while the other wing is designed specifically to be attached cabinet door.

cabinet hinge opening - degrees
Figure 2 - Cabinet hinge opening by degrees

Knuckle: The knuckle provides the hinge wings with the ability to flex. Each wing has a portion of the knuckle connected to it. An important feature of the knuckle is its opening characteristics. Some cabinet door hinges will not open the door a full 180 degrees, as shown in Figure 2. This cabinet hinge feature should be taken into consideration when choosing your hinges.

ball & finial hinge pin tips
Figure 3 - Ball style (right) and Finial style hinge pin tips

Pin: The pin provides the connection between the knuckle parts on the two wings and allows the hinge to actually pivot so that the door can open and close.

Note: Some hinges come with different decorative styles of caps or tips on the ends of the pin, as shown in Figure 3.

Continued... Hinge styles