Robert Wearing’s “The Essential Woodworker” was the second Lost Art Press book, and it was a lesson for us in how badly publishers treat authors. First, let me say that Wearing’s book is one of the most important books on out there on hand-tool woodworking (read about my first encounter with it here).
The original publisher of the book had let it go out of print. When that happened, they were supposed to return the photos or drawings to the author. But they didn’t. And then they claimed they had lost all the original materials – breaking one of the essential covenants of publishing. Wearing, in the meantime, was living on a fixed income in an assisted-living facility.
So John and I went to work. We wrested rights from the original publisher and set about to rebuild the book without any of the original materials. We typed the entire book back into the computer, scanned and edited every illustration and recreated all the photos that had been lost. And we created an entirely new layout.
The process took a couple years, but we are proud to say that Wearing then received a royalty for every one of the 37,000 copies we’ve printed since 2010. And his estate now receives these royalties.
For me, “The Essential Woodworker” was the landmark book that connected all the dots about hand-tool woodworking into a cohesive explanation as to how the craft works. You can read it in an afternoon, but its lessons will stick with you for the rest of your life. The illustrations are brilliant.
You can read more about Robert Wearing (1921-2020) in this profile by Kara Gebhart Uhl.
Bringing Wearing’s book back into print led us into our first massive republishing project: The Woodworker series by Charles H. Hayward. You can read more about that series of important books here.
The following step-by-step instructions on how to hinge a door are perfectly indicative of Wearing’s clear instructions and illustrations. We miss Robert, but we are happy that his book lives on to help others.
— Christopher Schwarz
Hingeing a door
The majority of doors are fitted with butt hinges (Fig 434) – for best-quality work they should be solid drawn brass not folded or merely plated. The illustration shows the two styles: the manufactured, broad suite (B) and the narrow suite (A), the second being more commonly used for furniture. The broad suite type is useful when a door is slightly outset, because in this case if a narrow suite hinge is used, the screws are liable to come too close to the carcase edge.
Three gauge settings will be used in the marking out (Fig 435, A, B and C). Three separate gauges, though not essential, save time and re-setting. Note that in setting A the gauge point should be just short of the hinge pin centre; 1mm (1/32in.) is about right.
The location of the hinges is important, particularly for their appearance. On a framed door the hinge lines up with the inside edge of the rail (Fig 436A). On a flush door the hinge is generally placed at its own length from the end (Fig 436B). The same rules apply to the hinges on a planted door (Fig 437). Hinges let into both door and carcase (Fig 438A) interrupt the straight line between door and carcase. In Fig 438B the hinge is let into the door only, preserving the continuous line, a more pleasing effect.
Mark the door first (Fig 439). The length is taken from the hinge itself and marked with a knife and square. Gauge the hinge width, A, on the edge and from the outside, i.e. the true face. Gauge the thickness, B, on the face. It is vital that this size is not exceeded otherwise the door will not close fully; if it is slightly undersize, the lesser evil, there will be a gap between the door and carcase which can be corrected. An overdeep socket will need packing up with veneer or card, or filling in and a fresh start, all unsightly.
The socket is formed by making a number of sawcuts (Fig 440) then removing the waste with a broad chisel (Fig 441). Notice that the socket reduces in depth towards the back where it finishes to a depth C, the thickness of the hinge leaf. Obviously this cannot be gauged, it must be found by trying the hinge. A socket too deep here will not affect the door closing but only its appearance. However the knuckle end is most critical as has already been mentioned. A block cramped to the door will prevent the chisel from accidentally bursting through.
Brass hinges need brass screws. With very hard woods it is easier to insert steel ones first, preferably one gauge smaller; these are replaced by brass when the hingeing is completed. Hinges sometimes need extra countersinking to ensure that the head does not stand proud. Provisionally fit the hinges to the door with only one screw in place.
The door with its hinges is located in the carcase, standing on one thickness of the packing card. Mark the hinge position on the carcase and remove the door. Square these marks onto the inside and gauge the hinge width, A (Fig 442). Chop a chisel lightly across the grain in the manner of the sawcuts in Fig 440, remove the bulk of the waste and trim back the socket carefully to the lines. The maximum depth (Fig 443B) is the total hinge leaf thickness (Fig 435B). Again slight excess will not harm the fitting. Nothing must be removed at the carcase edge. Fix the hinge with one screw. Note that pilot holes for the screws must be drilled at right angles to the sloping bottoms of the sockets not to the face of the carcase.
Try the door for fit; a strip of thin paper should just pass down between the hinge stile and the carcase. The closing stile may now need easing, at a slight angle. The odd shaving may still be needed elsewhere but with accurate marking and careful working this should be minimal.
For the best-quality work the hinges should now be unscrewed and rough scratches removed from the knuckles with successively finer grades of emery cloth, then metal polish. At the final screwing on, use brass screws and line up all their slots the same way.
If a stop is needed it can be made in the same manner as a drawer stop.
Common faults when fitting doors are that either the door is ‘screw bound’ where protruding screw heads prevent the hinge from closing, or ‘hinge bound’ where the socket has been cut deeper than the total hinge thickness.
4 thoughts on “How to Hinge a Door, by Robert Wearing”
Great books thank you for your hard work producing them.
The whole process sounds not unlike restoring furniture, funny enough. Just a different type of wood product you’re working with!
On hinge mortices, I was taught a way of gauging the back of a hinge mortice. I use a router plane to cut the mortice flat and at the thickness of the leaf. That gives me a line to cut to when paring the angle necessary. I guess lacking a router plane, this option is out the window.
I’m very glad I have purchased it & Mr Wearing was able to receive royalties. So many in the publishing industry take advantage & neglect authors. I hope there are more publishers like Lost Art that are fair.
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