Many in the building trade consider the door hinge, like the wheel, one of the greatest inventions in history. And while it is hard to trace the exact time door hinges were invented, it is found as far back as 1600 B.C. on large wooden gates with stone walls in Hattusa, the capital of the Hittite Empire in what today is modern Turkey.
Hinges are mentioned in the Old Testament as part of Solomon’s Temple (832 B.C.) and were made of gold. Hinges have been found in ruins in Egypt dating back to 700 B.C and have been found in ancient Babylon and Assyria.
The hinge system has been improved over the years. The Romans made a number of improvements and were the first to use hinges on cabinets and drawers as well as doors.
Large iron hinges were prominent on medieval castles. In the the English Colonies of America where metal forging techniques created stronger hinges, the blacksmith was found in the new settlements making hardware for the settler’s homes.
Charles Hager founded the Hager Hardware Company in St. Louis in 1850 and made wagon wheel rims and hinges for wagon doors. The T-Hinge was the most common hinge of this time with the H hinge and butt hinges developed in the later 1800’s. The Victorian era, created hinges that were not only functional but beautifully adorned and were used as a decorative accent.
Today, the builder and home do-it-yourselfer has many options for door hinges and a number of styles. Understanding the various types of hinges and how they function is necessary to determine the right hinge for your door.
Hinges are composed of various parts that make them function.
Leaf – This is the wing or flat part that screws into the door and the other side into the cabinet of door frame. Leaves can be equal in size or various sizes with many having an offset features on one hinge.
Knuckle – Middle part of hinge where the leaves met. This is usually a series of cylindrical pieces that form a channel. This is also referred to as the sleeve.
Pin – A rod that slides into the knuckle and hold the leaves together. Many pins will have a finial or decorative end or will have a ball or flat cap.
COMMON TYPES OF HINGES
There are dozens of styles of hinges with different functions. Here are some of the most common.
Butt or Mortise Hinge – A heavy duty hinge, usually made of steel or brass that is composed of two identical leaves. It is mounted by creating a notched inset or mortise in the wood.
Flush Hinge – Mounts flat against the surface and includes a number of styles of hinges.
Case hinges – Are similar to butt hinges, but lighter weight and more decorative. Commonly used on small cases like jewelry boxes.
Butterfly and Parliament Hinges – Sometimes called dovetail hinges, these are H shaped hinges that allow doors and windows to swing clear of the trim and lay flat when opened. They are available in many sizes from small to very large.
H Hinges – Are shaped like the letter H and are flush-mounted on cabinets and passage doors.
HL Hinge – Are HL shaped hinges used on passage doors in the 17th and 18th century and today are popular on larger cabinets and doors.
Spring Hinge – Features a spring-loaded mechanism to assist closing or opening the hinge leaves.
Strap Hinge – An early style hinge with a short wing and longer wing. These hinges are commonly used on barn and shed doors, garages, and more. The heavy-duty hinges are available in many styles and sizes.
Concealed Hinges – Commonly used on furniture, this hinge is also known as cup hinge as it is composed of a cup and arm and a mounting plate.
Other popular hinges include barrel hinges, soss hinges, piano hinges, bi-fold hinges, pivot hinges, hospital hinges, flag hinges, and coach hinges.
Van Dyke’s Restorers offers nearly 400 hinges in various styles, functions, and finishes from leading hardware manufacturers. We also carry over 40 hinges specifically designed for use on shutters.