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Step #1: Right or left handed hinges?

On some applications (such as certain residential doors) it will be necessary to order hinges that are handed. Most manufacturers use the suffixes RH (right hand) and LH (left hand). Also, most manufacturers produce the Half Surface, Half Mortise, and Full Surface hinges for right hand use. However, it is easy to convert these hinges from right hand to left hand. Simply take the pin out of the knuckle, remove the bottom plug, turn the hinge over, and replace the plug in the bottom and the pin in the top of the knuckle. The handing has now been reversed.

It is a simple process determining which handed hinge you will need for the job.

  • If the door opens in (away from you) then whichever hand side you plan on mounting the door, you should use a hinge of that same hand.
    • A LH hinge is used when the door is mounted on the left.
    • A RH hinge is used when the door is mounted on the right.






  • If the door opens out (toward you) then you should use the opposite handed hinge in comparison to the side it is to be mounted.
    • A LH hinge is used when the door is mounted on the right.
    • A RH hinge is used when the door is mounted on the left






Step #2: Selecting the correct hinges.

This is a brief overview of the different hinge types commonly used for residential doors. By reading about each hinge you should be able to determine which hinge is best for your particular job. If you are still a little fuzzy, just try the helpful people at D. LawlessHardware.com.

  • Butt hinges are the most widely used hinges for mounting ordinary residential doors. They are primarily used for light doors. When the door is closed, every part of the hinge is concealed except the barrel. Butt hinges come in both loose-pin and rigid (fixed-pin). In a rigid butt hinge, the pin cannot be removed. However, in a loose-pin butt hinge the pin can easily be removed by tapping it lightly with a screwdriver or other tool.
    • A large advantage of loose-pin hinges is that they allow you to remove the door by removing the pin. Rather than by taking the hinges off of the door.
  • The loose- joint butt hinge is another good way to make doors easy to remove. All you must do is lift the door high enough to make one section of the hinge clear the pin on the other section. This is a great time saver for doors that will be removed and replaced frequently.
  • The rising butt hinge is designed for use where any kind of thick floor covering could interfere with opening the door (such as shag carpeting or a rug). The rising butt hinge causes the door to rise slightly upon opening in order to clear the carpet or rug.
  • The ball-bearing hinge is a permanently lubricated hinge that is produced for use on heavy exterior doors. However, it can be used on any door and might be recommended for doors that get unusually frequent use.
  • The double acting hinge is used mostly on café doors. The hinge is designed to allow the door to swing in either direction.
  • Use a pivot hinge for recessed doors, overlay doors, or flush doors.
  • The offset blind is used almost exclusively with screen or storm doors. The design permits a swing-away of the storm or screen door without interference from the hinge.
  • The spring-loaded has a built in spring that keeps the door closed and pulls it closed after it is opened. Most of these spring-loaded hinges can be adjusted to make them looser or tighter.
  • The back flap hinge is a smaller kind of butt hinge. It is used primarily for furniture.
  • The tabletop hinge is for any construction where one leaf must drop, like a tabletop.
  • The piano, or continuous hinge is used primarily on things like the lids of chests or cabinets.
  • Strap hinges and T hinges are used primarily for heavy, rough installations.

Step #3: Installing your hinges.

Hanging hinges is an essential skill when it comes to home improvement or woodworking. Most hinges are simple to install and only require a few tools. You may want to use a vice to hold your work steady. However, this isn’t necessary for most projects. In this demonstration we are installing a simple brass butt hinge.

  1. Hold the hinge against the wood in the spot you plan to mount it. You can use this as a template by scoring around the three edges with a utility knife. This will keep the wood on the outside of the score from splitting as you chisel out a recess to flush mount the hinge.

  2. Larger hinges might require the use of a router, but smaller hinges, including most butt hinges can be installed using a hammer and a sharp chisel. Using the template you created by scoring the outside of the hinge, chisel out a mortise for the hinge-plate to rest in. Be careful, chisel out only enough wood so that the hinge-plate sits flush with the surface of the door.
  3. Once the mortise has been made, it is advisable to pre-drill holes for the mounting screws that will hold the hinge in place. Make sure the holes are centered precisely. With the hinge in place, set the bit over the hole in the hinge and drill the first hole. Repeat for the other holes.
  4. Once the guide holes are in place, install the hinge using flat-head wood screws.

Steps 3 and 4







Note: The top hinge should be located 5" from the rabbet in the door frame (measure to the top of the hinge barrel). The bottom hinge should be located 10" from the finished floor (measure to the bottom of the hinge barrel). This is the U.S. Standards procedure.


right hand hinge
right hand hinge


left hand hinge
left hand hinge