How to Mortise a Hinge

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To mortise a hinge, first screw the hinge into its proper place and mark the mortise with a knife to create a groove before making a gentle chopping cut with a chisel. Learn useful hinge mortise skills from this free video of professional home help tips.

Part of the Video Series: Home Remodeling Tips
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name's Chris Palmer. Today, I'm going to show you how to mortise a hinge. The first thing you want to do is determine the location of your hinge. So, our example today is on a really small box. It's the same process, whether you're doing a full size door, or a very small jewelry box. Here's where my hinge wants to land. I'm marking across the seam of the box, which is right there. Now, I can square these lines down, and these lines across, and I have the location for my hinge. Once you have your location established, go ahead and screw the hinge in place, where it's going to be. We have some, again, really tiny screws here. I'm going to pre-drill before I drive those home. Okay, now my hinge is screwed in place. Now, I need to mark the mortise. And, a knife is more precise than even a sharp pencil. Plus, if you use a knife, you'll have an actual groove where you can ride your chisel when you start the mortising process. Now, after my hinge is marked, I remove the screws and remove the hinge. Keep in mind the thickness of your hinge, that's all you need to mortise. In this case, it's not very much. So, I'm going to take a nice, sharp chisel, the flat side goes away from the waist piece. Do a very gentle chopping cut, and go all the way around the hinge location, and make nice, even, straight chopping cuts. Once the perimeter is cut, I'm going to just do some waist chopping cuts to help me loosen up all the material we're going to remove. Now, it's just a question of removing the waist for your mortise. Don't try to take too much at once. Only take what you've chopped, the depth that you've already chopped. Keep going with your chisel. Be patient, until you have a nice, clean even mortise. Make sure the corners are clean. And, when you're done, the hinge will be just flush with the surface. And, all you do is drive in your screws, and you're all done. Thanks so much for watching. I'm Chris Palmer. That's how you mortise a hinge.

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