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I have a 1/4 inch cabinet door and I would like to install a soft close hinge, but they all require a massive hole for the machinery to go inside the door itself. You would have to have super thick door (at least 3/4" thick) to support such a hole. Is there a technical reason why soft close is not made for lighter doors? It seems like it would weaken the door to have huge holes in it and I would like to know why the machinery is not on the cabinet shelf (hidden) instead of the door.

  • Out of curiosity, no one does it, but one can actually install the hinge the other way round, isn't it? – Kromster Jul 20 '18 at 5:05
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    I suspect you answered your own question here, the hole is the size that's needed for the 'machinery'. – Graphus Jul 20 '18 at 12:48
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    BTW 3/4" doors aren't super thick, they may not be standard but they're common enough that they're not unusual. 1/4" on the other hand is super thin. It's unlikely a door (in wood) that's only that thickness could be stable in service unless it's quite small, and even at that I wouldn't be surprised if there's some warping over time and with use. – Graphus Jul 20 '18 at 12:52
  • Cabinet hinges are made for 3/4" stock because that's the standard thickness for cabinet door rails and stiles or solid-panel cabinet doors. You have to remember for every heirloom-grade custom made Krenov-style cabinet (or whatever you're making) there are probably 1000 kitchen cabinets made out of 3/4 sheet stock. – SaSSafraS1232 Jul 20 '18 at 16:29
  • Wow, the people here in Woodworking are much nicer than in some other forums. I still do not understand why the machinery is so big, or why a lightweight version cannot be made for light doors, or why the machinery cannot be put on the inside and not on the door. I am considering to flip it around, but it is "recessed" 1/4" and might not work reversed but I will try. – Xuan Jul 20 '18 at 21:50
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You have not mentioned a particular hinge, but many soft-close hinges are "euro"-style cup hinges, and I assume that's what you're asking about.

Euro-style hinges were designed in, well, Europe, in the aftermath of World War II, when a great many houses and therefore kitchens had to be rebuilt, particularly after the fire-storms in Germany. The problem outstripped the capacity of individual, built-in-place-by-a-carpenter cabinets and the solution was to manufacture cabinets in factories. You can find more on the history here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/32_mm_cabinetmaking_system

The Euro-style cabinets (the kind you find at IKEA and many big-box stores), also known as "frameless" cabinets, were designed by engineers for large-scale manufacturing and compact (flat-pack) transportation. They were also designed to use inexpensive materials throughout, in particular to not require solid wood (baseline euro cabinets are built entirely from particleboard). The so-called "32mm system" of vertical rows of holes is part of that system.

The hinges were designed with a "cup" that locates the door-side of the hinge precisely and provides much more support than screws alone by fitting snugly into an easy-to-machine-at-scale 35mm flat-bottomed recess cut into the door. Any hinge that meets this interface can be used without on-site drilling of custom holes, regardless of the hinge manufacturer. It also compensates for the use of weaker materials, in particular particleboard instead of solid-wood otherwise used in the door frame.

The depth of the cup varies, although I'm sure there's a minimum and maximum in an ISO spec somewhere.

The reason why this depth is more than 1/4" is just as Graphus and SaSSafraS1232 mention in their comments. The standard door thickness is 3/4" for stability reasons. It's a heavily stressed part of the cabinet and is supported only by the hinges, compared to the cabinet box elements which are supported full-length by each other and usually a wall and/or floor.

  • I had not consider that the large hole could offer more support if it were to be tightly snug. I thought the large hole would weaken the door but if it were a very snug fit that could make sense. You also explain why they are all the same size because they are based on a standard in Europe. Let us hope that US will break this standard soon and make tiny soft close hinges for smaller doors and boxes. – Xuan Jul 22 '18 at 7:24
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    @Xuan You might consider a separate soft-close accessory like this one: amazon.com/Rok-Hardware-Cabinet-Compact-Adapter/dp/B00J9XB6BQ/…. It mounts separately from the hinge and provides a similar function. – scanny Jul 22 '18 at 16:35

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