One of the easiest and most affordable ways to update your cabinets is by changing the hinges. This may seem daunting, but updating cabinet hinges is easier than you think! I had no experience with this particular DIY project, and by the second cabinet door, I felt like a pro and am basically an expert now…it’s THAT easy.
Since we moved in, I haven’t wanted to make any improvements to our very old kitchen with cranberry-colored cabinets. It just didn’t seem worth it if we couldn’t knock down a wall, move plumbing, and have the kitchen of my dreams. Then my sister and I began painting the existing (old-fashioned) cabinets and my entire mindset changed. I couldn’t believe the difference paint, new hardware, and updated hinges made!
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How to Update Cabinet Hinges
- Wood Filler
- Sanding Block
- Overlay Hinges
- Drill/Impact Driver With Philips Head Bit
- Drill With Chuck (Plug In Kind Suggested)
- Kreg Overlay Hinge Jig
- Vaccuum/Shop Vac
1. Paint and Prep Cabinets – If you are painting your cabinets, you can choose to do that before or after you drill for the new hinges, but you don’t want to actually attach the new hinges until the doors are painted and sealed. I used Fusion Mineral Paint in Algonquin and sealed with with Deft Acrylic in Satin. Click here to see the full kitchen design plan. Before you do any painting, remove your cabinet doors from the frames and use wood filler to fill in the previous screw holes ON THE FRAMES (not the doors). Let it dry and then sand it down smooth in preparation to paint.
2. Position Cabinet Doors and Assemble Kreg Jig – Remove cabinet doors if they are still attached to the frame. Work with one door at a time, laying each one on a sturdy, flat surface. You’ll want the hinge side hanging off the edge of the flat surface so you can clamp the Kreg Jig onto your doors. Make sure to assemble your Kreg Jig according to the instruction guide before you get started.
3. Position Kreg Jig – For this part, you’ll need to read the instructions for your particular hinges and cabinets. I used 1/2″ soft close overlay hinges, so I needed to place my Kreg Jig at 3.5 (see above photo). This measurement tells the guide how far DOWN the cabinet door you want your hinge placed. I followed the guide included with the Kreg Jig based on the size of my hinges. If you use any other size hinges (like 3/4″), then please read the instruction guide for where you need to place your Jig on your cabinet door.
The next setting on your Kreg Jig is how far IN your hinge will sit…that’s what the dial is for (see above photo). Once again, refer to your Kreg Jig guide because each number corresponds with a measurement and they have that all worked out for you in the guide.
4. Clamp Your Kreg Jig On – Your Kreg Jig should be positioned right where you need it, and the guides/stops should keep it in place so you can clamp it on. You’ll want to use padded clamps so you don’t ruin the finish on your cabinet doors. Clamp your Kreg Jig snugly to the door…you do NOT want this moving around while you’re drilling.
5. Attach Your Drill to Your Kreg Jig Bit – For this step, you’ll need a drill with a chuck (the part of the drill that opens and closes to accept different bits). I HIGHLY suggest using a drill that plugs in rather than operates on battery power (here is a great one to have in your toolbox). They are cheap and you can work as long as you need to without recharging. This type of work is hard on the drill and will eat up your battery power quickly, so you’ll have to stop your momentum frequently to power up.
Your overlay hinge bit (the part that will cut out the hole for the hinge) stays attached to the Kreg Jig, so you’ll need to position your drill with an open chuck over the bit and then tighten the chuck around the bit.
You are now fully set up to drill out the hole for the hinge (or route it out as professionals would say). This may seem like a ton of work to set up for each hinge, but I promise you it goes super fast once you’ve done one door and gotten the hang of the process.
6. Drill – It’s time for the fun stuff…drilling! Use your body weight to apply pressure down onto the drill so it forces the Kreg Jig onto the cabinet door and is stable. Now you’re ready to pull the trigger and start creating the hole that the overlay hinge will ultimately sit down into. It’s going to create a ton of shavings, but just keep going. If it gets stuck, ease up on the pressure just a bit and start again. You will feel a lot of resistance as you’re drilling down, but as soon as you feel that resistance give way, and it feels like the drilling is “easy”, you’re done and the hole is complete. The Kreg Jig is designed with a stop that prevents you from drilling too far down. In other words, you simply cannot drill any further down than the Jig will allow so don’t be afraid of this step.
7. Remove Clamps and Kreg Jig – It’s time to clean up and move onto the next hinge hole. Remove your clamps and set aside. Now take off the Kreg Jig and empty all the wood shavings into a trash can. You’ll want a shop vac on hand to clean up the floor after each hole or you’ll have a huge mess on your hand by the time you’re done.
I also vacuumed out each hinge hole as I worked so that I could fully enjoy the fruits of my labor. Once you’ve done this, they are ready to accept the overlay hinge.
8. Attach Hinges – At this point, you should be able to drop your hinges down into the hole with a perfectly snug fit.
The two holes on either side of the hinge are where you’ll use the included screws to secure the hinge in place. It is recommended to drill a pilot hole before using the screws, but I did a little of both, and the only benefit I found was that sometimes the screws slid around a little without the pilot holes. I think drilling pilot holes is optional for this step, depending on your skills and level of confidence.
9. Reattach Doors to Frames – Once all your holes are drilled and hinges are attached, you’re ready to reattach the doors to the frames. Simply measure where you want your hinges to sit on the frame, make a mark, drill a pilot hole (100% necessary for this step), and install your door. I highly suggest using an impact driver for this step rather than a regular drill. An impact driver has more torque and will help you drill these securely into place without stripping the screws or losing power. These hinges are adjustable in a few different directions, so you can use your drill to adjust the two extra screws on the hinge (refer to above photo) and see where the sweet spot is for you.
10. Step Back and Admire Your Work – It really is amazing what hidden hinges can do to update the look of any cabinetry, whether the style of the doors is outdated or current. And here’s the really great bonus – if you ever get the chance to fully replace your cabinets or cabinet doors, you can reuse these hinges. This type of hinge is not cheap, so the more mileage you can get out of them, the better.
Note: One problem I ran into with this project was having a gap in between my cabinet doors where there was no divider (see below photo) after I added the new hinges…they pulled the doors apart about a half an inch.
There are a few different ways to remedy this:
- Try adjusting your hinge as much as you can using the screws intended for adjustment.
- Add a piece of trim painted the same color on the side edge of one of the cabinets (you will always have to close them in a specific order if you choose this option)
- Remove the doors and add a piece of trim to the frame where the hinge sits, so that it pushes each door in about a quarter of an inch, allowing the doors to meet in the middle (this is what I’m choosing to do).
When I shared this project on Instagram, I received a ton of messages saying you didn’t know this was possible and that you were excited to update your cabinet hinges. I hope this tutorial is a thorough, easy-to-understand guide for those of you who plan to tackle this project. It doesn’t require a lot of skill or experience, but the results make you feel like you’re a seasoned DIYer.
My goal is to ALWAYS help you learn something, teach you new things, and encourage you in your endeavor to improve your home. Now tell me, are you going to be updating your cabinet hinges? It’s easier than you think!