Hinge Swing: 170 or 125 degrees?

      More swing may mean more adjustment and stability problems. August 29, 2005

Forum Responses
We have specified a Blum 170 hinge for full overlay plastic laminated casework (WIC: Custom Grade, Type 1 component construction, Style A), for a new school project in Southern California.

The cabinet contractor for the project is requesting the following substitution: "Blum 125 hinge in lieu of the Blum 170. The Blum 170 hinge has too much play. This play allows the door to be lifted off the elbow catch. The Blum 170 hinge also has a tendency to cause the cabinet doors to sag."

Is this a valid technical issue and/or and installation issue? Does Blum have any technical bulletins that might address this issue? Any help is greatly appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor J:
The more moving parts a hinge has the sooner it will fail. I would listen to your contractor. Does the added swing really make that much difference?

From contributor H:
I would second that. The 125 hinge is stronger in that the pin is closer to the attachment point. Unless you need the extra swing (170 degrees verse 125 degrees) you most likely will have less problems with the 125 hinge. In a commercial situation experience is coming through in the effort to use the 125 hinge.

From contributor R:
The 125's cost less than the 170's. Might that be the real issue? The 170's I've done seemed just fine for the job.

From contributor J:
The 170 hinges do work fine, but if you go back in six months, if the hinges are still attached to the cabinets, 75% of them will need re-adjusting. In my experience they are more trouble than they are worth.

From contributor M:
Rule of thumb is the bigger the swing the more slop there is for all hinge manufacturers. I agree that unless there is a specific reason that less is best. We use 110 unless otherwise specified. We don’t build commercial, this is just a general observation.

From contributor G:
We installed Blum 170 degree hinges on a couple of jobs but found there was too much give in the mechanism. Once all the doors were adjusted for proper clearances you could alter the clearances by lightly pushing up or down on the door handle. It was impossible to keep the clearances even. We now use them only where necessary.

From contributor S:
I am in agreement with everyone here. Any 170-degree hinge will sag considerably more than a 125. If the casework is directly in classrooms, where it IS going to see abuse, I would consider a 5 knuckle hinge or Hafele Aximat. Otherwise, keep door widths to a 15" maximum.

From contributor B:
To the original questioner: If you need more to be convinced, take a look at a 170° hinge in real life. Pretty darn ugly, wouldn't you say? It's huge, sticks into the cabinet like a sore finger, has more pivot points than a centipede, need I go on? That's why it is considered to be a special application hinge. Trust the cabinetmaker. He's giving it to you straight.

From contributor L:
I agree that 125's are far better than 170's, but I also think institutional hinges should be used in schools, they are better yet.

From contributor R:
I just finished a new house for an ex-arch professor at a very major university with about 80 cab doors in it. To second those comments about the flex in 170 hinges I will say that I was forced to put 170's on about 8 of the doors. If I am concerned at all I just add a third or even a fourth hinge; one door was 30 x 65 (a coat closet).

From contributor S:
I just had a new kitchen installed and in the cabinet above the fridge we installed a TV. We want 170 degree hinges in that situation since the current 110 isn't even close to being okay (can't see the TV from angles). I'm wondering if experienced carpenters would feel comfortable with a 170 hinge here. It will get used daily, but not abused. Are there brands other than Blum that may be better for 170s?

From contributor B:
The 170 is ideal for this application, short of using pocket doors.

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