Understanding Cabinet and Hinge Terminology

There's a lot of terminology in the woodworking world when it comes to cabinets and hinges. We want to dispel some of the misunderstanding that comes from not knowing what someone is talking about when they talk cabinets and hinges. Hopefully, you will find this directory useful and become a little more knowledgeable from it.

270-Degree Hinge
A 270° hinge is a hinge that allows the cabinet door a full movement of 270 degrees. It allows the door to open all the way to the outside side of the cabinet wall. This movement can only be achieved on a frameless full overlay cabinet design.
Appliance Garage
An Appliance Garage is an open cabinet set on your countertop with a rolling wood door called a tambour door that pulls down to hide the contents. Just like a garage for your car, an appliance garage door goes up and down to hide the opening to the cabinet.
Architectural Hinge
Architectural hinges tend to be made of heavier weight material to withstand added use without breaking down easily. They are often found in commercial construction projects.
Base Plate
A base plate is the 2nd part of the Euro hinge. It is mounted to the cabinet itself to hold the hinge in place.
Base Plate Thickness
Base plate thickness measures the thickness of the base plate. Using a different thickness allows you to change your .
Blind Corner Cabinet
A Blind corner cabinet is a cabinet positioned at the corner between two rows of base cabinets where part of one cabinet's contents is hidden by the other row of cabinets. It is blind in that you cannot see what is inside the cabinet portion that is hidden. Special blind corner cabinet pull-outs are available to install in your cabinets to make accessing the contents easier.
Boring Pattern
The boring pattern is the distance between the screw or dowel centers on the hinge cup.
Industry Standard is 45mm (1-3/4"). Some Grass hinges are 42mm (1-5/8").
Butt Hinge
A Butt hinge is mortised into BOTH the door and the door frame. A butt hinge abuts the surface of a door and door frame.
Cam Adjustment
Cam adjustment refers to the adjustment screws in the hinge and base plates which allow for vertical and horizontal adjustment of the cabinet door. With a cam adjustment, a turn of the screw moves the door up/down, in/out, left/right. Without the cam adjustment, you must loosen the attachment screws on both base plates, move the door to its desired location, and then retighten the screws.
Center-to-Ceenter is the measurement from the center of one member to the center of another. Commonly used with decorative hardware pulls to refer to the distance between the pull attachment to the cabinet door or drawer handle screw holes. May also be referenced as "Centers" or "C/C" or "On Center".
Clip-on Hinges
Clip-on means the hinge and base plates are "clip-on" as opposed to "slide-on". Clip-on hinges snap into place on the base plate whereas with a slide-on hinge, the hinges are pushed into place and locked with a screw onto the base plate along a channel in the base plate. Clip-on is a feature of some concealed European hinges. As a rule of thumb clip-ons are used on better quality cabinetry, while slide-ons are for "value" furniture.
Concealed Hinge
A concealed hinge is a hinge so constructed that no parts are exposed when the door is closed.
Continuous or Piano Hinge
A continuous hinges is a strong hinge designed to extend the length of the moving part to which it is applied. Also called a "piano hinge."
Cup Drilling Distance
The cup drilling distance is the measurement from the outer edge of door to the start of the 35mm hole in the door. When comparing Blum, Salice, and Grass, the typical distance is usually 3 mm.
Cup Depth
The Cup Depth is the minimum depth of the hole needed for the hinge cup to fit into the cabinet door.
Cup Size
Cup size refers to the diameter of the circular hole that is drilled out of the door to accommodate the hinge. The standard cup size for Grass, Blum and Salice is 35mm. 40mm cup sizes are used for doors over 1” thick.
Degree of opening
Degree of opening determines how wide the cabinet door will open. 110-degree and 120-degree are the most common openings.
Double-Acting Spring Hinge / Double-Action Spring Hinge
A double-acting spring hinge is device for hanging a door, permitting the door to swing in either direction and return to a closed position.
Face Frame Mounting Plate
Face frame mounting plates are mounting plates specifically designed for use in American face frame applications. A frame is mounted to the body of the cabinet. Because of the face frame, the hinge cannot bolt directly to the side of the cabinet. A special base plate is needed for this application. See our article, for further information on Face Frame vs. Frameless cabinets.
Free Swinging Hinge
A free swinging hinge is a hinge that moves freely from open to closed. There is no spring or closing action to the hinge.
Full Mortise
A full mortise hinge is a hinge with one leaf mortised into the edge of the door and the other leaf mortised into the doorjamb.
Half Mortise
A half mortise hinge is a hinge with one leaf mortised into the edge of the door and the other leaf secured to the surface of the doorjamb.
Half Surface Mount
A half surface mount hinge is a hinge with one leaf mortised into the doorjamb and the other leaf secured to the surface of the door.
The term hand is used to designate the direction a door swings.
Handed Hardware
Handed hardware are locks, closers, some hinges and other hardware, limited to use with doors that swing in a given direction.
Hinge Backset
Hinge backset is the distance from the back end of a hinge to the edge of the inside door surface.
Knife Hinge
A knife hinge is a type of pivot hinge that resembles two blades of a knife. Two hinges (one on the top edge and one on the bottom edge) are used per door.
Knuckle of a Hinge
The knuckle is the enlarged part of a hinge into which the pin is inserted to hold the two halves of the hinge together.
Lazy Susan
A lazy susan is a rotating tray placed on a table, a countertop, or installed as a shelf in a cabinet to aid in distributing food. In a cabinet, the lazy susan can be one shelf or several shelves that turn on a central axis to make it easier to get to the food or items stored in the back of the cabinet. Lazy susans can be , , , , or . Lazy Susans are typically found in kitchen and pantry corner cabinets where space is tight and accessibility is often a problem. For more Lazy Susans, visit .
Leaf of a Hinge
The leaf is one of the two moveable plates which, when fastened together by the hinge pin, form a complete hinge.
Loose Pin Hinge
A loose pin hinge is a hinge having a removable pin to permit the two leaves of the hinge to be separated.
Max Door Thickness
The max door thickness is a measurement that refers to the maximum thickness your cabinet door can be when mounted and will still open to its full opening angle.
A mortise is an opening recess or cutout made to receive a lock, hinge, or other hardware. As a verb, mortise is also the act of making such an opening. An example of a mortise is the shallow channel made in a door's edge where the hinge leaf is inset and attached.
Non-Removable Pins (NRP)
Non-removable pins provide enhanced security for door hinges. A setscrew is threaded into the barrel of the hinge and intercepts a groove in the hinge pin. Doors that open out should have non-removable pins to help keep intruders from removing the pins and then the doors from the outside.
Offset Pivot
Offset pivot is a special hanging device for heavy-duty doors used on doors swinging one way only.
Opening Angle
The opening angle is the angle in degrees of a door in the fully opened position.
Illustration of cabinet door overlayThis term overlay indicates how much the door covers the side material to which it is hinged. A full overlay hinge allows the door to completely cover the thickness of the side material. A ½ overlay hinge covers ½ of the side material. Finally, an inset hinge covers none of the side material. See our article, for a more complete definition and illustrations.
Piano hinge
A Piano hinge is a strong hinge designed to extend the length of the moving part to which it is applied. Also called a "continuous hinge." Piano hinges are often used for piano benches, chests, or other boxes where a continuous hinge would be helpful.
Pie cut & Kidney hinges
Pie cut and Kidney hinges are specialty hinges that are made specifically for opening the folding doors of a cabinet with a Lazy Susan inside. Click here to see
Residential hinges
Residential hinges are hinges that are typically used in housing development projects for lightweight doors. These housing developments typically have a set series of home designs which are all built with minor variations. Residential hinges are made of thinner material than Architectural hinges. They also do not come in the variety of types, sizes, and finishes that Architectural hinges are available in.
The reveal describes the portion of the cabinet side material NOT covered by the cabinet door.Illustration of cabinet door reveal
Slip-on Hinge
Slip-on hinges are concealed type hinges where the two parts of the hinge are fastened together by slipping one half on the other and then tightening a screw.
The term swaging or swage means a slight offset of the hinge leaves at the barrel, which permits the leaves to come closer together.
Tambour door
A Tambour door is a wooden door made with many slats that rolls open up and down or side-to-side. You can find tambour doors on appliance garages or roll top desks.
Valet rod
A Valet rod is a closet or cabinet attachment that provides a telescoping rod to temporarily hang dry cleaning or garments on. It provides a convenient hanger for planning your wardrobe for the next day or to hold items while planning for a trip.
Wrap Around Hinge
Wrap Around hinges are a type of cabinet hinge that offers extra attachment strength by wrapping around and attaching to the back edge of the door and/or the face frame. The number of bends the hinge makes determines whether it is a full wrap or a partial wrap around hinge.


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