Recently I purchased a DVD from Popular Woodworking featuring Peter Ross forging a dovetail hinge. As with other Peter Ross DVD’s, it was well done and very informative. Someday I would love to take a class with him, but as North Carolina is a long way from Nebraska, I will have to settle for watching videos. I do hope there will be more in the future.
I got into blacksmithing so I could fabricate my own hardware for the furniture and tools I make. This video was informative enough so someone with a beginner skill level like myself could actually turn out a working period correct hinge. Besides a basic blacksmithing setup, all I needed to make the hinge was a jig to bend the sheet metal around. This was difficult because I don’t have a modern welder, but I was able to cobble together something out of angle iron and bolts. It did work just not that great so I will have to find someone to weld me a jig like Ross’s.
The hinge itself is formed by forge welding 16 gauge sheet metal to itself. The blanks are shown on the top of the door panel. From there it’s all about filling and fitting. My hinge is not as nice as Ross’s, but I’m pleased with it.
If you want to make a working period hinge, but don’t have a blacksmith shop try making a snipe/gimmal hinge like the set below the dovetail hinge. I made these by taking the thickest clothes hanger I could find, heating it with a torch, and bending the loop around a 16 penny nail. Hammer or file flat and you have a very durable hinge.
See Peter Follansbee webpage for more information on gimmals and how to install them. I have used them on a tool chest I made and they have worked great. Keep in mind modern mild steel is more durable than the old wrought iron used in antique gimmal hinges.