Latest smartHinge news, updated 17/04/2013:
smartHinge, the world's best and easiest to fit box hinge, is back!
... and it's 20% cheaper!
Now just £32.50 a pair.
... that's approx €38, USD $49.50, CAD $51, AUD $48.
go here for up-to-date currency rates
the story so far:
Since its introduction at the beginning of 2011, being hugely more elegant and easier to fit that the poorly designed Brusso quadrants, the smartHinge has become almost all box makers' hinge of choice.
Until June 2011 smartHinge was made in small batches by Clive Jarman in a traditional precision engineering workshop in Perth, WA. But as more and more makers have been discovering the incredibly easy fitting, good looks and classic simplicity of the smartHinge, demand has soared and I had to investigate having them produced in the UK. This had to be in sufficient numbers to meet current and future demand without sacrificing any of the quality, consistency and function that have made smartHinge so popular.
I found a UK manufacturer last year, but I'm extremely fussy and it has taken a long time to get the quality just right and the supply consistent and reliable. I am now just about there and after delivering a substantial backlog of orders the new UK-produced smartHinge will be available direct from this site from the end of May 2013, after which I should be able to meet most orders by return. These will initially be in polished brass, but will soon to be followed by gold-plated and stainless steel versions and a smartLock in the same finishes.
The advantages of the UK produced smartHinge will be clear:
• guaranteed stocks
• fast delivery
• lower price
• more significant discounts available on larger orders ...
Why not come and do a weekend box making course and see for yourself? - go here for info and available dates.
Reviewed by Robert Ingham in the March 2011 issue
of Furniture & Cabinetmaking magazine:
"Why hasn't someone thought of this before? This is a phrase that is often quoted when a breakthrough occurs in almost every field of human expertise and it is certainly true of the smartHinge ... Fitting these hinges is very straightforward and easy ..."
Click one of the magazine images above for the full review [or buy the mag!]
... and here's the F&C verdict on the brand new smartHinge:
"For professionals in a hurry,
or home woodworkers
frustrated by ill-fitting lids,
smartHinge is a revelation,
a real Eureka moment ...
worth the cost for a quality result.
They will transform your boxes and boxmaking."
[from Nick Gibbs' 'British Woodworking' review,
out at the end of January 2011.]
smartHinge - the movie: watch now on
Still not convinced what makes the new smartHinge so special!?
- here are fourteen excellent reasons to choose smartHinge:
1 - the smartHinge is not a quadrant hinge
- but nevertheless stops the lid securely at 93˚. At the heart of this innovative new hinge is a beautifully conceived but simple hidden stop incorporated into the knuckle. And because there’s no separate stay to accommodate there’s no fussy, angled excavation under the hinge flaps, and no problems screwing in the back screw around the stay when you come to fit ...
2 - the smartHinge is not L-shaped
- doing away with this redundant legacy feature [only ever necessary on cheap hinges made from sheet material but doggedly perpetuated by certain 'quality' hinge manufacturers] means that no expensive template/setting up is needed and fitting is hugely facilitated.
3 - the smartHinge has a perfectly round knuckle
- all other similar siderail hinges achieve the stop by having a square, or partially square knuckle. This requires an extra machining operation to allow the knuckle to rotate and spoils the look of the back of your box.
4 - the smartHinge is the easiest box hinge to install - bar none!
- the smartHinge’s three key features - no quadrant stay, no ‘L’ shape and a traditional round knuckle - make the smartHinge the easiest box hinge to fit, NO exceptions. And because they are precision made and absolutely consistent the result is 100% accurate, every time. One pass for each leaf using an 8mm [or 5/16” for US] cutter on a table mounted router, drill and screw in place and ... job done! No messing around with unwieldy hand held routers or expensive templates, no second passes with tape on the fence to widen the cut - and remember: NO awkward digging out under the hinges to take a stay!
5 - the smartHinge comes with high quality brass countersunk screws
- 8 x 5/8" no.3 brass countersunk wood screws plus spares, [and hopefully steel screws for pre-threading eventually - when I can find some!]. The quality of screws supplied with many ‘high quality’ hinges is obviously a common problem and regularly moaned about in WW forums ...
6 - the smartHinge comes with full fitting instructions, and a YouTube video
- most box hinges come with NO instructions at all, a lamentable lack of support for what is an extremely stressful, and crucial, part of making a box. And in order to ensure that the whole business of hinging a box is as stress-free as possible, I’m planning an area on this site that will give regularly updated advice based on any feedback I receive. And perhaps even a smartHinge users’ forum, who knows?
7 - the smartHinge is brand new and designed from scratch
- this is not just a marginal upgrade based on an existing hinge. Every element, from stock thickness to the leaf dimensions, from the size, spacing and positioning of the screw holes to the exact stop angle has been carefully considered to ensure that the smartHinge is the very best box hinge you can buy.
8 - the smartHinge is not mass produced
- precision machined from solid brass the smartHinge is carefully made to exacting tolerances achieving a level of consistency not possible using normal mass-production techniques. Every stage of the manufacture is regularly monitored to ensure that the smartHinge is the most accurate and beautifully made hinge there is.
9 - the smartHinge is good looking!
- you could be forgiven for thinking that all this emphasis on the ease of fitting and function would in some way involve a compromise in the way it looks. But definitely not - the simple, elegant good looks of the smartHinge will fit in with almost any style of box. And with lacquered, silver and gold-plated versions on the horizon the future looks bright!
10 - the smartHinge is the easiest box hinge to fit retrospectively
- we’ve all done it, avoided the hinge issue until it’s too late! The result? - you have a perfectly good box for which you can’t find suitable hinges. Well, the smartHinge is the best hinge there is to solve this all-too-common problem. As long as your box has a wall thickness of 10 mm or more, the smartHinge will do the job for you. Simply, easily, elegantly.
11 - the smartHinge is competitively priced
- the smartHinge is not available through any retail outlets so there’s no retail markup. This ensures that a higher proportion of the price you pay goes into the actual hinge, not into admin/markup/third-party profit. And with the new UK manufacture in place the new lower price of £32.50 a pair plus p&p is significantly cheaper than Brusso quadrants. This will seem a small price to pay for the huge savings in time, effort and stress that will very quickly become apparent!
12 - buy smartHinge securely online using PayPal/debit/credit card
- or email me if you’d prefer to pay by some other method
leaves are 8mm wide - actually 7.96 mm ± 0.03 to cater for 8mm and 5/16" cutters
leaves are 3mm thick - when parallel [closed] there is a 0.3mm clearance between the leaves
45mm long overall
42mm to centre of the pin
opening to 93˚
screws supplied are 5/8" no.3 brass countersunk wood screws
a brief survey of the other hinges on the market:
I have spoken to many, many people at shows, during my own teaching and have read many, many posts on WW forums and I do know how difficult people find it sourcing and fitting box hinges. And the lack of a simple, straightforward solution can be a real disincentive to many who would otherwise be happily making boxes!
Brusso is perceived to be the pack leader at the moment, but although well made their hinges are, in my opinion, ugly and over-engineered. Also, they advise you to buy an expensive, dedicated template for each of their various hinges in order to do the job ‘properly’. Anyone seriously involved in small scale woodwork should be using a table-mounted router, but Brusso advocate use of a hand-held router. This, together with their sticking to a traditional stay and ‘L’ shape format, causes all sorts of problems and consequently their hinges are difficult and complicated to fit. Just have a quick look at the instructions for fitting their HD-680 quadrant hinge on their website and you’ll see what I mean. And for a premium [and very expensive] product you'd at least think they'd check their instructions for misteaks!
There are many other quadrant hinges available, none is as well made as the Brusso and most share all or some of the same shortcomings.
The ones I’ve used most in the past [pre smartHinge!] have been the ‘siderail’ hinges offered by BC Specialties and shown here. These are also available at Woodcraft and other US sites. The #CAH 061 solves one of the problems of many box hinges in that they don’t have the ‘L’, but they do still have the stay.
A slightly smaller version of this hinge offered by BCS and Woodcraft goes one stage further and doesn’t have the stay either. The stop is achieved by a square knuckle and on first inspection this version looks similar to the smartHinge. But don’t be fooled - it is nothing like as well designed or well made as the smartHinge. Go here to see this hinge at Woodcraft and note particularly the poor customer review.
And there is good reason why they don't show the smaller hinge fitted: The problem is the square knuckle - in order to allow it to rotate you have either to project the hinge out of the back of the box by the full thickness of the knuckle [see below right] or, if you want to place the knuckle further in so the centre of the pin is in line with the back of the box you have to cut an escapement channel above and below the knuckle.
Both options really spoil the look of the back of your box. Also, with the full knuckle protruding this means that when the box is open a wide gap opens up along the back edge between lid and box as shown below right, rather than the far more elegant minimal gap achieved by the round knuckle of the smartHinge shown on the left.
And incidentally, any hinge that achieves a stop with a square or partially square knuckle, including Brusso’s stop butt hinge, share this shortcoming.
There are many others but they are all broadly similar to the ones I’ve described above and suffer all or some of the same shortcomings. Only the smartHinge has NONE of these problems, or any for that matter!
And, of course, there are plenty of perfectly decent butt hinges out there - but they will ALL need cleaning up and fitting of these is always awkward if you're not used to the process. And you have to organise a separate stop.
I've been making boxes for 25 years and there has never been anything on the market that comes close to the new smartHinge. So, when considering purchasing hinges for your next box project, don’t be fooled into buying cheap, difficult to fit [or even expensive and difficult to fit!] hinges - and ask yourself this question:
“Why use a stupid hinge when you can use a smartHinge!”
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smartHinge - the movie: watch now on
Why not come and do a weekend box making course? - go here for info and available dates.