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Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Gap Between the Cabinet Door & Face Frame

We get this type of call often and recently a customer sent us some pictures of the problem he was having. So, we thought we'd make it a post...

What gap & why the gap is there?

We usually get this question from customers that have just bought and installed euro hinges. Most notably, compact hinges like the overlay, face-frame hinge below shown installed in the second image.

Euro Hinge

Installed Euro Hinge

This particular customer was nice enough to take photos of his problem.

Cabinet Gap

From the top view you can see that the hinge has created an uneven and unsightly gap.

With the door in the open position, you can see that the gap between the door and the face from is minimal.

The gap is created by a 3/16" factory setting at the side of the hinge. This is standard for face frame cabinet hinges. This gap is usually intended to be offset by door bumpers that are typically used on the other side of the door. Door bumpers are usually either felt or plastic and are around 3/16" high, so the door sets evenly after the bumpers are on.

The purpose of the gap is to allow clearance as the door swings open so that the hinge side of the door does not scrape the front surface of the face frame. You can see in the customer's photo that there is almost no space between the edge of the door and the face frame when the door is fully open.

Alright...BUT IT'S UGLY!

Usually this gap is only noticeable by those who are installing the door below eye level so that they are looking at it from above. As you can see by the customer's photo, the drawer or false drawer front has not yet been installed. When the drawer front is installed it will prevent anyone from seeing the gap from above as it prevents a straight down perspective. The same is true for doors directly below the counter top overhang. Before the counter top is installed, the gap is noticeable. Afterwards, no one will ever have the perspective to see the gap.

My point is not to make an excuse for some sort of shoddy hinge engineering, but to point out that this "problem" is typical. The Liberty Hardware compact hinge used by the customer in this example has the same configuration and produces the same 3/16" gap that is standard for Blum, Grass, Salice, and most other major hardware manufacturers. So, on installed cabinets, evidently no one really notices.

Is there anything I can do about the gap? It's driving me nuts!!

If the gap is really driving you crazy, there are a few ways to minimize the gap. You can't do away with it all together (the door would tear up the face frame if there was gap at all), but you can make it smaller.

The first and easiest way is to purchase the nifty (but a tad more expensive) 6-way adjustable compact hinge. The reduction in the gap using this hinge will be minimal, but maybe enough to satisfy some.

The second way would be to use a euro hinge designed for cabinets without face frames and use the adapter plate that makes it fit a cabinet face frame. This will give you a closer fit, but some homeowners object to the mounting plate sticking out the back and getting in the way.

The third way is something I recently read about on Woodworking Talk. Participants there have techniques for nipping out space for the mounting portion of the plate to recess further into the cabinet. They also discuss a few other workable alternatives. It is a good short series of posts by knowledgeable woodworkers about this situation. Gap Discussion

And finally, here are a couple of other links that reference this topic:

Sawmill Creek

Woodworkers Hardware

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