When Cabinet Doors Go Wonky

It was Christmas time and, as usual, we’ve driven 8 hours to be with parents and grandparents and siblings and cousins. This year our trek required two vehicles, one of which blew a front tire at 100 km/h. Once we’d arrived safely at the various houses we were visiting I found that all of them had the same subtle, yet irritating, flaw: at least a few wonky European cabinet hinges which let doors sag, clunk and rub against each other.

When the bustle and noise of too many over-spun kids gets to me, I seek peace by tracking down the household tool collection (typically in the furnace room somewhere). I then spend a little quiet time adjusting whatever Euro hinge has gone out of whack since last Christmas. It’s surprising how easy it is to fix this problem, and even more surprising that my relatives put up with a household hassle that’s so simple to remedy. Well, at least it’s simple some of the time.

European Cabinetry HingeEuropean hinges were designed as part of a campaign to boost the efficiency of cabinet construction after World War II, when the need to replace thousands of bombed-out homes loomed large. Euro hinges are easy to install in a factory setting. They include built-in screw adjustments that allow the door position to be tweaked precisely up, down, left or right. The trouble happens when locking screws loosen, allowing these adjustments to go out of whack. All European hinges have two adjustment screws on the half of the hinge that’s fastened to the cabinet body. The rear screw locks the in-and-out position of the door, and the front screw tweaks the side-to-side position. Most door problems happen when the rear screw gets loose, allowing the door to flop outwards. Get a large Phillips screwdriver and try it yourself. Take a little time to see what’s happened, and you’ll find smoothly operating doors well within your reach – unless, you’ve got a more serious issue.

The best Euro hinges are made entirely of metal, and are exceptionally reliable and strong when adjusted and locked properly. Cheaper versions have a plastic part that fastens to the door – a plastic part that often breaks. Adjustments are futile when this is the problem. All you can do is get a proper, all-metal replacement (you won’t find them at regular hardware stores – I buy mine from Lee Valley Tools), unscrew the broken one and put in the new. All Euro hinges of the same type are universal from make to make, so even this issue isn’t rocket science.

So on Dancer, on Prancer, on Donner and Blitzen, find a tool for you doors and I’ll get a fixin’!

Posted on November 16th, 2010

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