Introduction: Creating Starter Holes for Small Hinges

Creating starter holes for larger hinges that use #6, #8 or #10 screws are relatively easy for there is a tool, the Vixi-Bit.

But, what about smaller screws, say #4 or #2? You think, no big thing, just drive the screws. No, especially if you are one of the few like me, who want the install to look good.

Items that will be needed are:

  • a small phillip screw driver, probably a #1or #0
  • a piece of steel wire pointed on one end and the other end bent at a comfortable angle for pushing with your finger. size needed will be one of the following: 11 Ga, 12 Ga, maybe 13 Ga, 15 Ga or 16 Ga (For example, for this tutorial, I used a scribe that generally comes with a combination square, made from 13 Ga wire)
  • several short pieces (1 inch in length) of telescoping brass, aluminum, or copper tubing, say 1/16" and 3/32" and maybe 1/8". These tubes have internal diameters of 1/32", 1/16" and 3/32" respectively.

Step 1: Getting Started

For this tutorial, I am using as an example, a job I just completed.

I had a purchased a set of collets for my new toy, a mill from MicroMark.

The box that they came in had left a lot to be desired. One being the inadequate hinges. As you can see from the picture. They have even deformed under the loading from the mounting screws, very sad indeed.

A trip to the local hardware resulted in a nice replacement.

Step 2: Creating a Starter Hole

Shown here I have already driven two of the screws. The locating punch is
shown in place.

I have shown my centering system in place. The scribe that comes with the square has a nice ball on the end to allow for comfortably pushing with the finger.

The particular scribe here is made from 13 Ga wire (0.072"). The tubing I used, that was the largest tubing that would fit in the hinge hole, was 1/8" OD with a 3/32" ID. This created a 0.011" radial clearance between the scribe and the tubing. In other words, this scribe, I have used, can move 0.011"relative to the hinge hole. The scribe was a little sloppier than I would have wanted, but I continued regardless. The end of the tubing, being soft, could have been rolled inward slightly to reduce the clearance. As you can see from the picture of the tooling.

I also used a piece of tubing one size larger than the 1/8" or 5/32". The 5/32 tubing nested neatly in the countersink of the hinge hole and created a very good registration to the hinge hole. One could use a tubing This is extremely important if the smaller tubing, the largest one that fits in the hinge hole, is still too small.

Therefore, the general procedure starts with picking the largest size of tubing that fits through the hinge hole. Cut it to about 1-1/4" long. I like to use about 1-1/4". This makes it fairly easy to hold on to.

Now, if the fit is still too sloppy, then take the next larger tubing (it will be 1/32 larger) and cut it to the length of the smaller and slip it onto the smaller.

This arrangement will now nest nicely in the countersink. I'd like to add here, that on several occasions, I have also taken the tubing that nests in the countersink, chucked it in a drill, and, with say a 4" mill file (or 200 grit sand paper, created a chamfer on that end of the tubing. This chamfer helps a little more in the nesting the tubing in the countersink.

If this tool is going to be used many times and consists of several pieces of tubing, I suggest that the pieces of tubing be soldered or epoxied together. Also, one benefit of this operation is to improve the concentricity between the two tubes, thus improving the centering of the screws starting hole.

One more suggestion. If the wood is quite hard (hard wood) then I suggest you replace the scribe with a pilot drill to hand drill a hole.

Yes, I said if the wood is hard it is a hard wood. However, there are "softwoods" that are quite hard. Take hemlock for example. Conversely, there are hardwoods are quite soft. Take poplar, for example.

Step 3: Very Nice Indeed

This picture shows the centering capability of this system.

This system was of added importance. This is because the existing screw holes were in close proximity to the new screw locations. The tooling assisted in creating a properly located starter hole regardless of the bias created by the neighboring hole.

I'd like to add here another procedure that I have had to do myself from time to time. If the existing hole is quite close to the "new" hole, take the scribe, without the piloting tube, and move off center from the existing hole and work the wood towards the "old" hole. To help here bring the tubing back in to play to assist in relocating the hole. Another note, at this time. To assist you in this procedure, one and possibly two screws should have already been driven to help in preventing movement of the hinge.

Step 4: Finished

This, the final picture, shows the newly installed hinge with the "old" hinge nearby for comparison.

I hope this tutorial will be of some import. It has really helped me in the installation of small hinges.

It simply creates a centering device similar to those larger units commercially available for larger hinges.

Happy hinging!

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