In a perfect world, a cabinet hinge would be installed in exactly the right place to achieve a perfectly level and straight close. Because even a small error in measurement can set the door askew, it's necessary to adjust cabinet doors after installation. They can be tweaked in three dimensions for the perfect close: up and down, front and back, and side to side.
Making these adjustments is simple with European-style hinges, also known as concealed hinges. With traditional hinges, only minor tweaks can be made without drilling new pilot holes and resetting the cabinet door. Make your kitchen cabinets close easier and look better with just a few simple door hinge adjustment tips.
Adjusting Concealed Cabinet Hinges
European hinges sit inside the cabinet and consist of an adjustable bar between two mounting plates. Six screws are visible on Euro-style hinges, but you can ignore the two holding the door mounting plate in place. Of the other four, two are located on the hinge assembly "bar" and two are mounted onto the side of the cabinet. Each of these four screws helps adjust the hinge so the door closes properly.
The screw farthest away from the door controls the "in and out" dimension. If there's a wide gap on the hinge side of the door when it's closed or the door won't close all the way, focus on adjusting this screw. Tighten it (turn clockwise) to pull the door closer to the cabinet frame and close the hinge-side gap. Loosen it (turn counterclockwise) to allow the door to close firmly.
The screw closest to the door controls the "side to side" dimension. If the cabinet door overlaps its neighbor or falls short of meeting it in the middle, loosen or tighten this screw until you achieve the desired effect. Finally, to move the door up or down, loosen the two screws holding the mounting plate to the side of the cabinet. Maneuver the door up or down as desired and then tighten the screws again to hold it in place.
Traditional Door Hinge Adjustment Tips
Traditional door hinges (also called butt hinges) typically have three screws holding each mounting plate in place, with no room for adjustment. Some "modern" traditional hinges have oval screw holes that do allow for some adjustment. Simply loosen the desired screw, push or pull the door into the desired position and then retighten the screw.
If you're working with door hinges that have perfect circles for screw holes, the only way to make an adjustment involves some drilling. If the door is crooked, start by determining which screw is too far forward or back. Remove that one and slightly loosen the other screw(s) on that particular mounting plate so you can slide the mounting plate into an ideal position. Then, drill a new pilot hole, sink the screw and retighten the other screws.
You'll need to remove both screws if the door is too far up or down compared to its neighbors or if the door has gaps on one side when it's closed. Measure the gap or the position discrepancy and move the screw holes the same distance for a better fit on the first try. According to Rockler, the gap caused by butt hinges can also be remedied by chiseling out a mortise for the mounting plate to rest in.