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smartHinge, the world’s best box hinge

                       – the story so far, updated January 25th, 2016:


Since its introduction at the beginning of 2011, and being much more elegant and easier to fit that the poorly designed Brusso quadrants, the smartHinge has become most box makers’ hinge of choice.

Until June 2012 smartHinge was made in small batches by Clive Jarman in a traditional precision engineering workshop in Perth, WA. But as more and more makers discovered the incredibly easy fitting, good looks, consistency and classic simplicity of the smartHinge, demand soared and I had to investigate having them produced in the UK. This had to be in sufficient numbers to meet current and future demand without sacrificing any of the quality, consistency and function that have made smartHinge so popular.

I found a UK manufacturer in 2012, but I’m extremely fussy and the quality was never consistent and reliable. Then in my determination to use a British company I approached another company, based in the West Midlands, and they failed as well.

All this has wasted a huge amount of mine and everyone else’s time, of course – if only companies would READ the specifications before they leap in …

I am now using an excellent new company, also based in the West Midlands, but so different to the last one that it’s hard to believe … in just a few short weeks they were already producing far superior smartHinges than the last lot managed in a year. These are currently available in polished brass – email me.

We are still working on quality and consistency, but I hope very soon to be able to offer the full smartWare range as I’d planned to more than a year ago: smartHinge and the eagerly awaited smartLock, all in polished brass, stainless steel and gold-plated. Please subscribe to my newsletter so you’re informed as soon as they’re available.

watch how easy smartHinge is to fit now on YouTube


Reviewed by Robert Ingham in the March 2011 issue of Furniture & Cabinetmaking magazine:


“Why hasn’t someone thought of this before? This is a phrase that is often quoted when a breakthrough occurs in almost every field of human expertise and it is certainly true of the smartHinge … Fitting these hinges is very straightforward and easy …”

Click one of the magazine images above for the full review [or buy the mag!]
… and here’s the F&C verdict on the brand new smart Hinge


BWW_sH_review_001_sml(1) “For professionals in a hurry,
or home woodworkers
frustrated by ill-fitting lids,
smartHinge is a revelation,a real Eureka moment …
worth the cost for a quality result.
They will transform your boxes and boxmaking.”[from Nick Gibbs’ ‘British Woodworking‘ review,
out at the end of January 2011.]


smartHinge – the movie: watch now

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Still not convinced what makes the new smartHinge so special!? – here are twelve excellent reasons to choose smartHinge:


1 – smartHinge is not a quadrant hinge

– but nevertheless stops the lid securely at 93˚. At the heart of this innovative hinge is a beautifully conceived but simple hidden stop incorporated into the knuckle. And because there’s no separate stay to accommodate there’s no fussy, angled excavation under the hinge flaps, and no problems screwing in the back screw around the stay when you come to fit …

2 – smartHinge isn’t L-shaped

– doing away with this redundant legacy feature [only ever necessary on cheap hinges made from sheet material but doggedly perpetuated by certain ‘quality’ hinge manufacturers] means that no expensive template/setting up is needed and fitting is hugely facilitated.

3 – smartHinge has a perfectly round knuckle

– almost all other similar siderail hinges achieve the stop by having a square, or partially square knuckle. This requires an extra machining operation to allow the knuckle to rotate and spoils the look of the back of your box.

4 – smartHinge is extremely easy to install

– the smartHinge’s three key features – no quadrant stay, no ‘L’ shape and a traditional round knuckle – make the smartHinge extremely simple to fit. And because they are precision made and absolutely consistent the result is 100% accurate, every time. One pass for each leaf using an 8mm [or 5/16” for US] cutter on a table mounted router, drill and screw in place and … job done! No messing around with unwieldy hand held routers or expensive templates, no second passes with tape on the fence to widen the cut – and remember: NO awkward digging out under the hinges to take a stay!

5 – smartHinge comes with high quality brass countersunk screws

– 8 x 5/8″ no.3 brass countersunk wood screws plus spares, [and hopefully steel screws for pre-threading eventually – when I can find some!]. The quality of screws supplied with many ‘high quality’ hinges is obviously a common problem and regularly moaned about in WW forums …

6 – smartHinge comes with full online fitting fitting instructions, and a YouTube video

– most box hinges come with NO instructions at all, a lamentable lack of support for what is an extremely stressful, and crucial, part of making a box.

7 – smartHinge is designed from scratch

– this is not just a marginal upgrade based on an existing hinge. Every element, from stock thickness to the leaf dimensions, from the size, spacing, format and positioning of the screw holes to the exact stop angle has been carefully considered to ensure that the smartHinge is the very best box hinge you can buy.

8 – smartHinge is not mass produced

– all British made in the West Midlands, precision machined from solid brass the smartHinge is carefully made to exacting tolerances achieving a level of consistency not possible using normal mass-production techniques. Every stage of the manufacture is regularly monitored to ensure that the smartHinge is the most accurate and beautifully made hinge there is.

9 – smartHinge is good looking!

– you could be forgiven for thinking that all this emphasis on the ease of fitting and function would in some way involve a compromise in the way it looks. But definitely not – the simple, elegant good looks of the smartHinge will fit in with almost any style of box.

10 – smartHinge is extremely easy to fit retrospectively

– we’ve all done it, avoided the hinge issue until it’s too late! The result? – you have a perfectly good box for which you can’t find suitable hinges. Well, the smartHinge is the best hinge there is to solve this all-too-common problem. As long as your box has a wall thickness of 10 mm or more, the smartHinge will do the job for you. Simply, easily, elegantly.

11 – smartHinge is competitively priced

– the smartHinge isn’t available through any retail outlets so there’s no retail markup. This ensures that a higher proportion of the price you pay goes into the actual hinge, not into admin/markup/third-party profit. And with the excellent new UK manufacturer in place and the new introductory price of £25.00 – and considering the huge savings in time, effort and stress that so many have already benefitted from – there isn’t a better deal around!

12 – buy smartHinge securely online using PayPal/debit/credit card – or email me if you’d prefer to pay by some other method

smartHinge dimensions:

leaves are 8mm wide – actually 7.96 mm ± 0.03 to cater for 8mm and 5/16″ cutters
leaves are 3mm thick – when parallel [closed] there is a 0.3mm clearance between the leaves
45mm long overall
42mm to centre of the pin
opening to 93˚
screws supplied are 5/8″ no.3 brass countersunk wood screws

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pack leader?

I have spoken to many, many people at shows, during my own teaching and have read many, many posts on WW forums and I do know how difficult people find it sourcing and fitting box hinges. And the lack of a simple, quality solution can be a real disincentive to many who would otherwise be happily making boxes!

Brusso used to be perceived as the pack leader, but although basically well made their hinges are, in my opinion, badly designed, ugly and over-engineered. Also, they advise you to buy an expensive, dedicated template for each of their various hinges in order to do the job ‘properly’. Anyone seriously involved in small scale woodwork should be using a table-mounted router, but Brusso still advocate use of a hand-held router. This, together with their doggedly sticking to a traditional stay and ‘L’ shape format, causes all sorts of problems and consequently their hinges are difficult and complicated to fit. Just have a quick look at the instructions for fitting their HD-680 quadrant hinge on their website and you’ll see what I mean.

There are many other quadrant hinges available, none is as well made as the Brusso and most share all or some of the same shortcomings. And, of course, there are plenty of perfectly decent butt hinges out there – but they will ALL need cleaning up and fitting is always awkward if you’re not used to the process. And you have to organise a separate stop if you need one, unless there is one incorporated into the hinge. This means a square knuckle which complicates fitting, and any hinge that achieves a stop with a square or partially square knuckle, including Brusso’s stop butt hinge, share this shortcoming.

The smartHinge has NONE of these problems, or any for that matter!

I’ve been making boxes for 25 years and there has never been anything on the market that comes close to the smartHinge. So, when considering purchasing hinges for your next box project, don’t be fooled into buying cheap, difficult to fit [or even expensive and difficult to fit!] hinges – and ask yourself this question:

“Why use a stupid hinge when you can use a smartHinge!”

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