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Installing Barrel Hinges

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Watch this video and you’ll learn how to install invisible barrel hinges. Invisible? Yes, when a door fitted with barrel hinges is closed, you can’t see the hinges from the front or the side. Consider installing these disappearing barrel hinges on your next project.

What is a Barrel Hinge?

Barrel hinges are an excellent choice when you don’t want the woodworking hardware showing on the outside of the finished piece. For clean lines and simplicity, barrel hinges are perfect. The drawback to barrel hinges is that they are trickier to install than standard hinges.

Installing a Barrel Hinge

When you learned how to build cabinets, you also learned how to install standard hinges. It’s time to learn something new!

There are several things to remember when you’re working with barrel hinges. First, they come in a variety of sizes and the sizes are metric. You absolutely must drill an exact-match metric-size hole for a barrel hinge. And, those holes must be correctly located or the hinge won’t operate properly. Meticulous layout is a must because there’s no room for adjustment after the holes are drilled. Take your time marking and measuring to make sure everything is aligned correctly before you drill.

Insider’s View

Watch as we show you close-up how the unique barrel hinge mechanism, that includes a slotted screw inside the barrel, locks the hinge into the predrilled hole — it’s ingenious!

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10 Responses to “Installing Barrel Hinges”
  1. Peter Axton

    It wasn’t mentioned in this video nor have I seen reference to it on the Web but there is also a partial countersink and grooving on the edge of the hinge. That was visible on your hinge. Not being able to confirm it, it is only my opinion on how they should be installed but, when I installed a pair of barrel hinges, I drilled a countersink into the timber beside the one on the hinge, completing the recess. A small hole into the recess, then inserted a small screw. This added to the security of the hinge installation.

  2. Mick Sandine

    Well, the hard part is the layout. How about going through that on the next video?

    • Peter

      Hi Mick, I just noticed your comment regarding the “how”. When I fitted the hinges, firstly I worked out the distance between the centres of the barrels when the hinge was fully open and that told me how far from the edge the holes had to be if the lid was to open fully. Having decided that, I felt that the most critical point regarding the set up was ensure I had the holes in line. It was a jewel box so only a shallow lid so I formed the sides and decided on the hinge location. I then drilled a smaller pilot hole from the top, through the location point and deep enough to enter the part that would form the base. When I cut the lid section of the box, there were holes on either side exactly in line. You could do the same thing by clamping the 2 halves together. You then enlarge the holes to the diameter and depth you need.

  3. leninsebastopol

    George, you told us WHAT and thanks, but the HOW is important especially with the precautionary warnings on importance of placement. And after all, the title is INSTALLING Barrel Hinges.

  4. Mark G

    OK now I know what they are but the video does not address HOW to install them, just what to watch out for??? Allignment etc???

  5. Jay

    How did you line up and drill the holes for the hinges? Anything over 9.5 mm will not fit in a 3/8″ hand drill chuck, so I assumed that you used a drill press for those holes. Also, 12 mm drill bits (slightly less than 1/2″) are more expensive than the hinges and you will want to purchase a set with 1/2 mm increments. They are not recommended for use in wood side thicknesses of less than 3/4″ and it apparently took quite a bit of practice installing them when reading comments about these on the Rockler website. All of the cabinets professionally installed in our house use the European type hinges (Blum), which are hidden as well as adjustable.

    • Customer Service

      Hi Jay. I would recommend using a drill press for this operation. The vertical alignment is super important for the hinges to work properly.
      Paul-Woodworkers Guild of America

  6. Mike

    So the screw that expands the barrel inside the hole…is that expansion designed to eliminate the need for glue for easy removal? Or should they still be glued in place with, say, epoxy?

    • Customer Service

      Hi Mike. You are correct. That is the mechanism that locks these in place. No need for glue.
      Paul-Woodworkers Guild of America


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