By Bob Beacham | Published Sep 9, 2022 9:21 AM
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Even skilled carpenters usually turn to a door hinge jig to ensure the fast, accurate positioning of door hardware. This tool helps obtain the precise measurements required for the task of installing doors. Most are simple enough to be used by even relatively inexperienced DIYers, and most are very affordable—especially when compared to the cost of ruining a door.
This guide takes a close look at both types of door hinge jigs: those for full-size doors and those for cabinet doors. The two are actually quite different, so we’ll explain their technical aspects before offering suggestions for what we believe are the best door hinge jigs currently available.
Hinges for full-size exterior and interior doors come in a range of sizes, and the doors themselves can be different thicknesses. A good hinge jig needs to cope with these variations. Cabinet door hinges tend to be more uniform (see our article on the best soft close cabinet hinges), but precision when positioning is equally important. The following are the key aspects that impact choice, whichever type is required.
Most door hinge jigs are made from either injection-molded plastic or glass-reinforced plastic—also known as glass-reinforced nylon or fiberglass. The first is cheaper to produce, while the latter is tougher.
Both materials would easily be damaged by either a router cutter (used with full-size door jigs) or a Forstner bit (used with cabinet jigs). However, the cutting edges of these tools should never come into direct contact with the jig, so damage should never be a problem. Router cutters have a bearing guide that follows the jig contour, so the blades only cut the wood. A Forstner bit (required to drill a flat-bottomed hole) is held within a guide block, so once again only the cabinet is drilled.
A few door hinge jigs are made of aluminum or steel, which have the durability to withstand years of jobsite use.
Cabinet door hinge jigs are simply held to the inside of the door using any convenient woodworking clamps. Ratcheting types are convenient because they are easy to use one-handed. Two clamps should be employed, one either side of the cutter guide, to ensure that the jig can’t twist.
Full-size door hinge jigs attach in two different ways. Some have a single clamp built in, which makes for fast work, though it’s important to make sure the jig is absolutely level. Others use locating pins that are positioned to match the door thickness, and are then screwed or pinned in place. These are a bit more time-consuming, but arguably more secure.
The amount of adjustability provided by door hinge jigs depends very much on the type. Very basic cabinet hinge jigs are simply used to mark hole positions, and any adjustment is manual. More advanced models have rotating cams that give different spacings from the edge of the door. These jigs are usually one size to suit the hinge being used—either 35 millimeters (mm) or 26mm—though some can accommodate both.
Most full-size door hinge jigs can accommodate different-size hinges, though it’s important to check the range available. They have either a sliding mechanism or different-size templates that drop in.
As mentioned above, they also have clamps or spacing pins to cope with different door thicknesses. With so many different doors available, it is essential to check this measurement as well. Door height is unimportant as jigs can be positioned wherever required.
A router bit is required with full-size door hinge jigs, and one is often included. Shank size will be either ¼ inch or ½ inch. Neither is better than the other, but the size will determine the kind of router used. Some ½-inch routers include a ¼-inch collet as an option, whereas ¼-inch routers cannot use ½-inch bits.
This type of door hinge jig creates a round-cornered cutaway in the door edge, and suitable round-cornered hinges are widely available. However, door hinges were traditionally square, and when refitting a door to an existing frame, it will often be necessary to cut away the rounded area. This can be done with an ordinary woodworking chisel, but corner chisels specifically for the purpose are available.
Cabinet hinge jigs almost always include the Forstner bit required to drill the flat-bottomed hole for the main body of the hinge. They may also include a smaller drill for the retaining screws.
When hanging doors, be sure to prevent the handle from damaging the wall. Our article on choosing the best door stop may prove useful.
Now that the technical aspects of these invaluable devices have been covered, it’s now time to check out some worthy products. Each of the best door hinge jigs were assigned a category to make it easier to find the one you need.
The Porter-Cable door hinge jig is primarily aimed at DIY users but will also be useful for pros who only hang doors occasionally. It strikes a good compromise between durability and cost. It can be used with doors from 1⅜ to 2½ inches thick, and with hinge sizes from 2½ to 6 inches, in ½-inch increments.
The Porter-Cable door hinge jig is made of fiberglass, which is reasonably durable, though it can crack under heavy impact. The sliding mechanism for selecting hinge size is quick and easy to use. Pins are positioned for door width, then small reusable nails hold the jig in place.
The jig can flex if too much pressure is applied when routing, so care is needed. Unfortunately, the included router bit is not very good and soon loses sharpness. Those with numerous doors to hang may wish to invest in a better cutter.
Get the Porter-Cable door hinge jig at Amazon, Acme Tools, or Toolbarn.com.
Kreg, one of the world’s leading jig makers, does not disappoint with this high-quality precision cabinet door hinge jig. It is made from tough glass-filled nylon and designed to cut holes for standard 35mm cabinet hinges (often called Euro hinges).
Two cams adjusted by a screwdriver allow the jig to be offset 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, or 6mm from the edge. This suits different hinge lengths and both framed or frameless doors. A scale along the longest edge of the jig allows for quick alignment, and the jig is then clamped in place. The tungsten-carbide cutter fits any power drill and has a built-in depth stop to prevent drilling through the cabinet door. Guide holes are also provided for the hinge retaining screws, though the required 1/16-inch drill bit is not included.
The Kreg cabinet door hinge jig costs a little more than some competitors but is quick and easy to use, well-made, and produces consistently accurate results.
Get the Kreg Tool Company door hinge jig on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
Calling the Everbilt template a cabinet hinge jig is a bit of a stretch, but as a low-cost way to mark out cabinet hinge positions, it works fine. It also includes the necessary Forstner drill bit, though not the 1/16-inch bit for hinge retaining screws.
The Everbilt jig is basically an L-shaped piece of transparent plastic that is held against the door edge. Holes allow pencil marks to be made for the hinge and retaining screws. The jig is then put aside and the relevant holes drilled. Any adjustment for offset will need to be done manually, which could lead to errors creeping in.
It is easy to be critical, but for a one-off job, or for someone who has a pillar drill to set depth, the Everbilt does the job at a fraction of the price of most competitors.
Get the Everbilt door hinge jig at The Home Depot.
The Ryobi door hinge jig is a well-designed device that is feature rich as well as quick and easy to set up. Thanks to its unique clamp, it can be used on doors of any thickness and hinges from 3 to 5 inches in length, in ½-inch increments. There is also a useful guide on the tool for setting router depth.
There are removable corner inserts, so the Ryobi jig can be used for round- or square-cornered hinges (though the latter will still need finishing manually with a chisel). A high-quality router bit is included, as is a self-centering drill bit for making the actual hinge holes. Both bits are conveniently stored onboard the jig body.
Our main concern with the Ryobi door hinge jig is that it is plastic throughout, and much of it is quite thin. Having a plastic screw thread on the clamp is also a potential weak point. While breakages do not seem to be a regular problem, we wouldn’t recommend it for jobsite use.
Get the Ryobi door hinge jig on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
The Trend door hinge jig is a remarkable piece of engineering. Most door hinge jigs need to be reset for each hinge, but the Trend can be set to cut two or three hinges at the same time. This makes it suitable for fire doors (legally required to have three hinges) and heavy exterior doors. It can also be used with hinges of different widths and thicknesses.
Actual hinge position is controlled by sliding blocks. Each is independent, so any hinge size can be accommodated. Once set, the jig is held in place by four bradawls that are included. The Trend door hinge jig can also be used to cut hinge positions into most door jambs.
Durability is assured by the cast-aluminum construction. For transportation, the jig is dismantled into two pieces, and it comes with a carrying case. A guide bush for the router cutter is included, though the cutter itself is not—rather disappointing given the Trend door hinge jig’s high price.
Get the Trend door hinge jig on Amazon or at Acme Tools.
The Milescraft door hinge jig is a template system that provides guides not just for door hinges but for the door jamb, strike plate, and latch plate. The only thing missing is a jig for the door handle and lock, though these are widely available.
The Milescraft jig will fit 1⅜- and 1¾-inch doors as well as hinges from 2½ to 4½ inches, in ½-inch increments. With the main frame and templates, there are nine pieces in the kit. While this can seem confusing at first, each template is marked with the appropriate size or function.
The main frame is hard-wearing steel. Templates are ABS plastic, which is also quite tough. Setting up the jig isn’t as quick and easy as some, but high accuracy is achievable. Once in place, the relevant template is held with the pins supplied. A tungsten carbide router bit is included, though it has a ½-inch shank. As a result, the Milescraft door hinge jig can’t be used with ¼-inch routers unless a different cutter is purchased.
Get the Milescraft door hinge jig on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
There are a number of cabinet hinge jigs available that mimic the high-quality Kreg model described above. The BI-DTool has a few features that set it apart from many low-cost rivals. It is made from engineered plastic—a synthetic resin noted for increased durability. Cams provide the usual offsets at 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, and 6mm, and there’s a depth stop so the jig can be used for framed and frameless doors.
In addition to the 35mm offset cams, a pair of 26mm cams is also provided. These allow the BI-DTool jig to be used for smaller hinges, though the required cutter is not included. Unlike the Kreg, there is no scale on the edge to help with alignment. Additional clamps are required to hold the jig in position, but that’s typical of this kind of jig. A 1/16-inch drill is provided for retaining screw holes, though care is needed as this can easily cut into the plastic guides on the jig, thus reducing their accuracy.
Get the BI-DTool door hinge jig on Amazon.
Buying a door jig is the easy option, but with care, it is possible to make your own. In fact, for cabinet doors, a jig isn’t strictly necessary. If you can measure and mark accurately, hold the drill vertically, and judge the depth of a hole, then a Forstner bit of the appropriate diameter to match the hinge is all that is required. Owners of pillar drills will find the task easier, but a portable drill and a steady hand can get the job done.
Making a jig for full-size doors should be well within the skill set of competent DIYers. An L-shaped frame with the appropriate cutout for hinge position is all that’s really needed. We recommend using plywood or hardwood because composite board can be fragile. The DIY jig only has two parts that could either be joined by creating a slot in one with a router and attaching the other to it or by simply screwing the two together. Several easy-to-follow plans are available online.
The Porter-Cable door hinge jig takes top spot for doors because of its versatility and affordability, though care is needed to ensure accuracy. The Ryobi door hinge jig is also good, but the main clamp bolt is a concern. For cabinets, the Kreg Tool Company door hinge jig is pretty much flawless, though you do pay a few bucks more for it. The Everbilt door hinge jig is a decent marking-out tool, but drill control is up to the user.
The guide above will prove useful in finding the right jig for full-size interior and exterior doors as well as cabinet doors. Those who want more info or clarification about these tools may well find it below in answers to some common questions about door hinge jigs.
Door hinges were traditionally cut with a wood mallet and chisel. Today, a router and jig combination makes the job quicker and easier. Cabinet door hinges are cut with a Forstner drill bit.
How the hinge jig is set up will depend on the type of jig. Some door jigs clamp to the side of the door, while others use locating pins and screws. Cabinet jigs usually need to be held in place using ordinary woodworking clamps, which will not be included. To ensure accuracy, it is important to follow the instructions that come with the jig.
A heavy door (often called a solid core door) should have a minimum of three hinges to spread the load and prevent it from dropping. In extreme cases, such as large oak external doors, four hinges may be necessary.
Both ¼-inch and ½-inch routers can be used for door hinges. Our top pick, the Porter-Cable door hinge jig, uses a ¼-inch bit, whereas the versatile Milescraft door hinge jig uses a ½-inch bit. Bear in mind ½-inch routers often have ¼-inch collets and therefore can accept the smaller bit; however, ¼-inch routers cannot accept ½-inch bits.
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