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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-12-2013, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
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Default Making snipe hinges

I got my weekly email from FWW and there was a link to a video that showed how to make your own snipe or cotter pin hinges. If you've never heard of them I hadn't either until this morning. Apparently they were common on early colonial furniture. Judging by the looks of them I would guess that they would have been used on something considered home made back then. The price is right for them, nearly free. They would be okay on anything considered very rustic or if someone wanted authenticity for a piece of this type period. I'm not sure what an authentic lid stop would be from this period unless you just used a wall for the stop. Maybe someone else can comment on that. Make Your Own Snipe Hinges - Fine Woodworking Video

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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-12-2013, 12:47 PM
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My first thought for a stop would be a length of light rope, or cord. At least on something with hinges that simple.

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Good possibility Theo. It wouldn't make sense for it to be very complicated as you say. Even a slotted board attached to the top would seem too sophisticated for these hinges.

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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-12-2013, 01:34 PM
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I saw that last night when I was going through my email and thought that was handy. It reminded me of other furniture styles with easy to make period hinges.


Even though a lot of my old customers had commissioned "finished" furniture of more modern styles, I've always liked somewhat rustic southwestern Spanish and Mexican influenced styles like Monterey and Sante Fe- Using pine or Mesquite and forged fittings. Some simple examples of that are simple forged "tin" strap hinges. They are made using the same techniques for construction that were demonstrated by that video.

For a basic common strap hinge, you take 2 pieces tin strapping and bend them around an 1/8" pin, using a hammer so that it flattens to one side (the mounted side. Then drill two holes through the doubled strap for nails. You use two of them, with a trimmed nail as a hinge pin. The pin is peined tight in one strap. The hinge assembly is heated up orange hot, let to cool to just where it loses color before being oil tempered. Result is not for just the tempering, but for the aesthetic coloring... with a charcoal blackish charcoal grey coloring, showing variations from the tempering.

That period style's rustic was just flat strap, but some of those hinges where also rounded or patterned,with clover leafs or . A step beyond this, was cutting and fitting more ornate patterns together.

Some of these period hinges span time and culture, such as these 17th century artifacts from Jamestown:


It also reminds me that buying hinges is easy, but when you are going for a look, that sometimes details like are what I remember and appreciate for a long time past. A lot of times we take so much care to hide hinges and fittings, but other times those fittings are a part of the overall design. That video shows that it can be done with a simple propane torch... and brings that back to "everyone" being able to do that with a little imagination.

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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-12-2013, 04:34 PM Thread Starter
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Nice addition to the post Mike. There is a charm to the early colonial, Mexican, Santa Fe, and you might even include Windsor's designs in the same group since I think they could all go together. I think the big problem with these motifs is that they won't mix with Victorian, Queen Anne, or modern chrome/glass/plastic. If you like these rustic motifs you need to stick with the theme although a pirate style blanket chest or something along that line would make a good conversation piece. I do have a few questions about making the homemade strap hinges since it sounds like you may have done it before.

When you say tin strapping do you actually mean tin or mild steel? If you mean tin where do you get it?
Are you bending 2 straps one or top of the other or making 2 alike, one at a time, and are the nail holes for mounting or putting the pins through?
I assumed you would peen the end of the pin but how do you seize into the one side and allow for movement at the other side? Is the peening enough? I would think the metal would almost have be fluid to swell that much without spreading the socket on the hinge. And then when it cooled and shrank it would want to loosen up again.

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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-12-2013, 06:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherryville Chuck View Post
When you say tin strapping do you actually mean tin or mild steel? If you mean tin where do you get it?
Thin mild iron. Thicker than sheet metal. Mine? I have a supply of steel stock and wrought iron. Remember, I have a forge, do black smithing and ornamental forging. If you use too thin a metal, then it tends to look cheap.

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Are you bending 2 straps one or top of the other or making 2 alike, one at a time, and are the nail holes for mounting or putting the pins through?
Not on top of each other, but single straps for each side, bent half-way so the ends meet and the center wraps around a pin for the hinge pin. Used in pairs, so you end up with each side of the hinge. The holes that you would drill through the doubled strap are for mounting the hinge to the work with nails, pins or rivet/stud type fasteners.

You could lock the hinge pins in by heating the ends, swelling them (flatten the end will widen it's birth) or swag it on the end like a rivet head. (Harder to do.) But it's not the style for those. (read on)
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I assumed you would peen the end of the pin but how do you seize into the one side and allow for movement at the other side? Is the peening enough? I would think the metal would almost have be fluid to swell that much without spreading the socket on the hinge. And then when it cooled and shrank it would want to loosen up again.
One side of the hinge pin you pein with a hammer to make it just slightly undersized. *** After you wrap and create the "P" shape for the hinge pin in the strap. put the doubled end in a vise with the hinge pin part of it resting on the face of the vise (without anything in it). Pein the rounded part which will catch on the lower part of the "P" chin, and the other over-wrapped part will go down into the vise. This is an elaborate description to say that you just make it a bit undersized/tightened. Remembering that the part of it for the hinge pin is centered in the doubled strap, as you mount the hinge and those half pieces are held together, that undersized half will grip the hinge pin, holding it together. The holes being drilled after the hinge is formed will hold it tight. Those type of hinges also work like HD outdoor gate hinges, in that you either let the "L" side of the hinge face up with gravity holding the other side on... or face them towards each other to lock hinges together. (The other half of the hinge is loose over the hinge pin.)

Drilling... authentic is you heat it up and use a punch over a pritchard hole, If a small hole, you raise the metal, then file it, punch the other way, file, etc, until through then punch to shape. If thin and bigger, you use the punch and seat of the pritchard hole to punch the hole out.

From learning how to do those simple hinges, then a step further is to cut out hinge sides and roll the metal tabs for the hinge pin holes. A step above that is forging heavier bosses for hinge pins to go through. I'm not as good creating those via forging and am better at welding, grinding and cutting those to look the same. That may be cheating to a truest, but that works out easier for me. That could be someone brazing a spot with a Map torch.

Like I said, I have a forge and lots of welding equipment. I can attach things were I want. And I don't have to weld things via forge welding. Although I could and did that on the road while horse shoeing, when you don't have to, there's easier ways to do the same thing that takes less time and effort. But even with that, to get a look, sometimes I'll weld and grind something, throw it in the forge and temper it to give it that "look and feel."

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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-12-2013, 08:58 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the explanation Mike and yes I remembered that you have those skills and that your last name translates as "iron smith". I know that all the holes would have originally been punched through while red hot. I considered the welding solution too to keep the pin in. I also thought of chopping the center section out of one side with a chisel while red hot and chopping the outer sections off the mating part like modern hinges are built. Then the pin could sit with the head on top and float in both sections.

One other question. Were the nails on these hinges clinched like a cobbler would do when hob nailing boot soles on?

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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-12-2013, 09:45 PM
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One other question. Were the nails on these hinges clinched like a cobbler would do when hob nailing boot soles on?
Nails were square and could have been clenched. I've seen both ways... The clenches were on the inside, so not really visual. But look closer:

When I see something in this style, I think "Old California" and "Monterey"...

In the Monterey Style there is a lot of wrought iron fittings. Some furnishing included substantitial sized metal studs used as ornamental... (I'm not real partial to that, but...) A lot of the hinges and fittings of the Monterey style were boldly fixed with metal studs or rivets pre-drilled and driven into the wood. In this style, you also see the use of wooden round-headed pins as fasteners.

Along with that style, there is the Rancho Style, which is more simplistic and uses almost sheet metal thick fittings. This style is more rustic, humble and "common." Hinges on those were attached by common nails of the period. What I've seen from those, durability was a concern, as over time the fittings on those loosened up- the nails and the fittings themselves.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-13-2013, 12:23 AM Thread Starter
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I thought they might be. One interesting thing from the snipe hinge video, he bent the ends over 90 degrees before he cliched them. That makes them more finished in appearance. I also noticed that the metal seemed to be fairly hard, I'm assuming a result of dipping in the tung oil while hot.

I like that hutch in particular, but I wonder why it is asymmetric? Actually, I think I might like the low boy better. Looks like it has a tile top which would really set it off. I've seen modern knock-offs of that style where any upholstery, often leather, is held on with furniture tacks and peripheral pieces may also use them for accent and to tie the design together. H.H. Windsor used the pegged tenons in his designs but was probably borrowed from an earlier time. In fact, I think a lot of his designs were modern adaptations of early colonial and probably earlier designs.

Are you getting those pictures from an online source? If there is a download to be had I would like to to have it. Those designs are great for inspiration and adaptation.

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I thought they might be. One interesting thing from the snipe hinge video, he bent the ends over 90 degrees before he cliched them. That makes them more finished in appearance. I also noticed that the metal seemed to be fairly hard, I'm assuming a result of dipping in the tung oil while hot.

I like that hutch in particular, but I wonder why it is asymmetric? Actually, I think I might like the low boy better. Looks like it has a tile top which would really set it off. I've seen modern knock-offs of that style where any upholstery, often leather, is held on with furniture tacks and peripheral pieces may also use them for accent and to tie the design together. H.H. Windsor used the pegged tenons in his designs but was probably borrowed from an earlier time. In fact, I think a lot of his designs were modern adaptations of early colonial and probably earlier designs.

Are you getting those pictures from an online source? If there is a download to be had I would like to to have it. Those designs are great for inspiration and adaptation.
The hutch looks asymmetric because of the "hook" mounted on the left as you're looking at it. I'm guessing maybe that was a lantern hook? (Just a stab in the dark... LOL)

Yes online. Like you and Dan, I get a lot of design ideas from catalogs... Both online and printed (mail). About half the pictures I posted in this thread were from consignment catalogs. (Period furniture for sale.)

I have a lot of out-of-print furniture, cabinet and carpentry books in pdf format.

Like with that consignment for that free-standing "coat and hat rack..." I overheard that lady talking about what she wanted to her friend at the table next to us at a tavern as Sharon and I were having dinner. She wanted it made, but had no idea of how, as she thought it would take 3 people to do it in mixed medium and someone to assemble it together... She wanted dark walnut, wrought iron hooks and turquoise blue stone in a skull design inlaid into the wood, banded with the wrought iron. I drew her up a design and handed it to her (as we were waiting to be served)... It was what she pictured in her head of what she wanted. I came up with the design by what she described and from various designs I've seen in what I look at and study. I like doing things like that.

Yes, the "side board" (you called a low boy). A side board was traditionally usually located against a wall in a dining room for serving food off of, displaying and/or storage of silver and dishes, therefore the tile top on that one. Some of that period also had painted southwestern floral patterns on front panels and/or on the top. Mission is also along that "Old California" styling but a little more ornate, polished and finished.

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