Saturday, 9 January 2016

Hinges for the main doors

I thought on this build I might go for the more elegant option of using piano hinges to support my main doors rather than the usual cranked hinges.
One advantage being they would be nigh on invisible as they would sit right along the front edges of the project and run down in a very narrow strip (less than 3/8ths inch) on the open door.  This would allow for easier decorating.  There would be fewer front edges to paint which I always think is a chore at the end of a build.  I am never 'comfortable' with the huge brass hinge sitting in your rooms and for it to be tidy it needs to be attached after the room is fully trimmed and decorated.  

Section of piano hinge open flat

Closed and totally concealed 
 My huge doubt was whether they would support these particular doors.  My house has a basement area which is actually attached to the doors.  I specifically looked for this arrangement having had a couple of builds where you have to remove a large basement area to open the doors to view your house - all a bit of a fiddle for a lazy person.  So, with all that added weight, and it is considerable, I was dubious that a row of screws in the front edge of cut MDF may not be that strong.
I searched for a definitive answer and only found one person addressing the issue - a lady I respect greatly - she said that piano hinges were fine for smaller, lighter houses but not for anything substantial. (Grandmommy)
I then wrote to the builder of my house Dolls House Direct who kindly helped with this:
Hi Marilyn
We only recommend the cranked hinges as they get screwed through the surface of the board not the edge, a lot stronger fixing.
Because of the weight of the Dalton including the basement, I do not think that it would last long before the screws start to loosen.
Best regards Gary DHD

Hi Marilyn
MDF is soft wood shredded up and then glued the same way as plywood pressed back together between rollers. 
Piano hinge into the end of plywood and the screws would not hold. 
Regards Gary.

Incidentally go and look at their new house The Bentley (co-incidentally the name of the shop I made!) it is yummy.
Meanwhile another vendor was helping me - Pauline from Weaverthorpe Miniatures sent me a sample of their piano hinge.  Luckily for me it was too wide for the front edge of Dalton House so my decision was made.  
Another incidentally Weaverthorpe actually has a shop!!! so you can go browse.  Click the link to find out about it.
I will be using cranked hinges again for this build - it takes nine of them!

Closed cranked hinge

Large in a 1/12th environment


  1. Piano hinges are far superior to the brass hinges. Whenever I’ve had to fix doors or build houses (I’m a construction worker), I’ve always opted for piano hinges. They are smaller, more invisible, and more aesthetically pleasing. Plus, I’ve always found them to be easier to install than the big brass hinges.

    1. I wanted to use them for all the reasons you mentioned and would have been confident about it had I not had a particularly heavy construction on these doors - they are MDF and have the basement area attached which is especially chunky. I was just unsure about them being fastened into the end grain and not confident about using them on this one. Thank you though and maybe next time .......

  2. My 30 year old DHE Classical has piano hinges.

    1. mmmmmm .... beginning to wish I'd tried them! Thanks Diane