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Q. We have a client who would like interior door hinges that are totally hidden when the door is closed. Are there any hidden hinges available that are relatively easy to install and have some adjustability?

A. Gary Katz, a finish carpenter in Reseda, Calif., and moderator of the JLC Online finish-carpentry forum, responds: Most carpenters and cabinetmakers are familiar with Soss hinges (800/922-6957,, probably the best-known hidden hinges on the market (see photo, left). But I've found that their small hinge backset results in poor frame clearance, which causes problems when applying moldings or mirrors above doors. Moreover, they bind if the door on the hinge side is beveled, or if they haven't been perfectly mortised at the exact same depth. They require very deep mortises, too, making the risk of running into nails while cutting with your router bit or paddle bits all too real. Also, they can't be adjusted after installation.


Soss 212


Sugatsune HES3D-190


Rixson 370

Because of these problems, many carpenters prefer to use Sugatsune hinges (800/562-5267, www.sugatsune .com). They have a larger hinge backset and more frame clearance (see photo, right), so small moldings and mirrors can be applied to the door with fewer problems. Also, Sugatsune hinges aren't nearly as deep as Soss hinges, so cutting the mortises is less complicated. Their new concealed hinge, the HES3D-190, is probably the easiest concealed hinge to install — and it's adjustable.

However, when I apply baseboard or wainscoting or a similar type of molding to the door, I prefer to use pivot hinges, such as those made by Rixson (877/631-9411,; see photo, below). With the proper layout, a pivot hinge will allow almost any thickness of applied molding. In my opinion, pivot hinges are simple to install (for a professional with a router and the proper homemade hinge templates, at least), and they make it especially easy to remove and install the door. And since the clearance gaps required for a pivot hinge can be really tight, the door becomes virtually invisible.