November 3, 2009

Installing the hinge








photo copyright Karin Corbin 2009

My hinges started out all bright and shiny, these were the gold plated over brass hinges from Houseworks. First thing I did was take a butane torch and burn off the gold plating. Then I took a needle file and cleaned the burnt oxide off the back of the hinge so it is bare brass again. That filing step also roughed up the surface just a little, giving it tooth. Now the glue will stick to it nicely. 


While I was at it I took some smooth jawed, duck billed, pliers and straightened out and aligned those hinge knuckles. Shame on you Houseworks, all your hinges have wonky knuckles. I also have to hammer the hinge leaves flat as they often have a cup to them.

Why mess up lovely gold plated hinges? Because the shiny gold would be completely out of character with the dollhouse I am building. My hinges have been out in the briny salt weather where plating or lacquer coating has absolutely no chance of surviving. I could have done a rust finish or a green patina finish but I am happy with the dull blackened look.


photo courtesy of gorilla glue

For the last several months I have been using a new kind of superglue. It is formulated with a little bit of rubber to make it shock resistant. I love this stuff better than any superglue I have ever tried before. It works just great for miniature hinge jobs and there is not a strong chemical smell to it. I got a gel version as hinges and recesses are never perfectly flat, the gel fills up those little gaps nicely. 

Most super glue companies are selling this kind of rubberized formula, I am currently using the Gorilla Glue brand because that is what I found at the store.

When you go to glue your hinge be sure both halves are supported so the hinge is balanced and you don't have to fight it flopping around and pulling loose before the glue is cured. I have clamped a scrap piece against my door for support of the unglued half, you can see this in a photo down below where there is natural wood next to the blue door.

Spread a little glue in the hinge recess you have cut and push your hinge down into it. You don't want any excess glue squeezing out and over the hinge surface, use enough to make a full coverage but not a huge amount. Hold it down for a minute or so to make sure it is firmly set.



After the glue is set up I used a needle sharp, very fine tipped awl to poke in starting holes for the nails that came with the hinge. The awl is a better choice than trying to drill a hole, you can see how small the awl tip is in the photo below, it is super sharp. I grap the nails with flat nose tweezers that have small grooves all along the inside edge. The head of the nail slips between the grooves and they grip the nail so you can push to start it. First though I put a little dab of glue on the tip of the nail so it won't come back out of the hole. You might need to push the nail on down further with a small flat, metal object such as the tip of a flat blade screwdriver until the nail is fully set against the hinge. 
photo copyright Karin Corbin 2009


Next I take a needle file and flatten the nail heads out quite a bit. That makes the heads smaller, they look more realistic and it also removes any gold plating. I used a chemical patina solution to darken the shiny brass nail heads and also the hinge. Now I have grungy old hinges for my grungy old door.

My favorite dollhouse hinges come from Micromark, they are solid brass and are not gold plated. The quality of the hinge joints is superior to those from Houseworks. However I did not have enough of them for this project and I did have lots of the Houseworks product. 
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