Intro: Make Hinges Inexpensively
Sometimes I want a hinge or two, but what is available in a store is the wrong size and shape, not heavy enough, and they cost far too much. I devised a way to make my own hinges the way I want them for very little in time and money.
Nomenclature: The flat parts of a hinge, the parts that are fastened to a door and its jam are called the leaves. The hinge pin is self-explanatory. The round tube that contains the hinge pin is the body of the hinge.
- Drill press
- Stepped drill, or center mill countersink, etc.
- 3/16 inch twist drill
- Angle head grinder with metal cutting disc
- Spring clamps
- Aluminum angle
- 1/8 x 1/2 inch mild steel
- 3/8 inch steel rod
- 3/16 inch steel rod
Step 1: Parts
I am making a basic hinge.
The parts are two pieces of 1/8 x 1/2 inch steel bar 1 1/4 inch long each, a piece of 3/8 inch steel rod 1 1/16 inch long, and about 1 5/16 inch of 3/16 inch steel rod.
The 1/8 x 1/2 inch bar could be adjusted in size if the hinge needs to rise or be offset in any way.
Step 2: Drill
Twist drills tend to drift off center. A center mill countersink bit 3/16 inch in diameter, or a spotting drill bit, or a stepped bit with a 3/16 inch tip provide more rigidity and more precision for starting. Once an accurate hole has been started, a twist drill can do the rest of the work.
I made a notch in a piece of 2 inch wooden stock and clamped the 3/8 inch rod into it to keep the rod vertical while drilling.
Another option would be to use a metal tube with a hole already through it. Tension pins are available at hardware stores and would work very well. A 5/16 inch tension pin has an internal hole that is just a tiny amount larger than 3/16 inch in diameter. But, that adds to the cost of making the hinge.
Step 3: First Welds
I used a piece of 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 inch aluminum angle to hold and position leaf pieces for welding to the 3/8 inch hinge body rod. The end of the leaf on the left in the photo is placed 3/16 inch, or half of the diameter of the 3/8 inch rod, above the bottom of the inner corner. The other leaf piece will act as a spacer for the welding setup. See the second photo.
I dropped the 3/8 inch rod into the corner of the aluminum angle and welded the first leaf to the body of the hinge. See the third photo. I clamped the welded leaf to the flat surface of the aluminum with a spring clamp. I welded the second leaf to the body of the hinge.
(There is a text box on the second photo, but it does not show. Click on the photo and you can access the text box.)
Step 4: Weld the Leaves on the Underside
For strength I turned the assembly over and welded the ends of the leaves to the body of the hinge. Grind the weld beads so they are flush with the face of the leaves on the underside.
Step 5: Cut the Body in Half
The leaves are 1/2 inch wide each, but the body is 1 1/16 inch long. The extra 1/16 inch is for waste when the two halves of the hinge are cut apart with a cutting wheel on an angle head grinder. Try to cut squarely to the body so the hinge works smoothly. This is not always easy when "eyeballing" and cutting by hand. Make corrections with a grinder.
Step 6: Weld the Hinge Pin to Half of the Hinge
Allow about 1/8 inch of the hinge pin to extend beyond the bottom of the body. Weld it in place. Slip the other half of the hinge onto the hinge pin. Cut the hinge pin to length and round the top edge of the hinge pin.
Step 7: Finish and Use
Grind away any rough or sharp edges. Drill mounting holes for screws in the leaves. Align the hinge pin with joint between the two pieces to be hinged. Drill screw holes and mount the hinge.
The hinge does not really need a cap on the upper end of the hinge pin. The user may want to lift one hinged panel off of the other. If both hinges are positioned with the open end of the pin up, one panel can be lifted off of the other. Or, the open end of the bottom hinge can be set so it is up. The top hinge can be set so its open end is down. That arrangement locks the two panels together.