Box hinges

So one of the things that I want to do with my Glowforge is create Magic: The Gathering deck boxes. I was looking for hinge ideas last night and saw this one:

(I apologize if this is something that has been posted before, but I haven’t seen it, and a search didn’t turn it up (though I suppose it could be buried in the multitude of other posts - most of which are about living hinges).)

Note, if you click the image above, you can see the final constructed hinge.

The circle cut out of the inner pieces are left in place and glued to the outer/middle pieces to form the shaft of the hinge. I think its ingenious but I’ve been playing around with it, trying to see if it could be better integrated into the box. This is what I’ve come up with.

This is a very simplified version with no artistic “flare” added yet. The one on the right is the approximation of what the original design is. I thought that part of the circular hinge could be integrated into the box, reducing the amount that sticks out. This design is based on 1/8" ply, (estimating .1125" nominal). So, in the original design 3/8" sticks out the back of the box. In mine that is reduced to 1/4". By integrating into the box I can also remove some of the rounded edges. The red piece doesn’t ever move, so the outer circle is just for looks. For the blue piece, the top quarter of the circle that is in the box lid, moves with the lid, so it can be squared as well.

My other concern is the business of using the circles cut from the blue pieces, glued to the red pieces to form the pin. I’m thinking it may just be easier to get a wooden dowel and use that. It is wholly invisible once constructed, so it doesn’t matter exactly what I use. The only reason that I can think of to use the cut-out piece is so that, if I decide to sell these, I can sell them in sheet form and not have to include any additional pieces, but there is a little sanding that goes into this, as well as some precise gluing, so I’m not sure how viable that is to the end user. Additionally, at 1/8", will these hinges hold up? The box itself is going to be a total of about 4"x3"x3", with a double layer of 1/8" ply forming the shell.



Those look good!

I have messed around with hinges a bit. The clamp I made is sort of similar, although I used metal dowel pins for strength.

I would go witht he wooden dowels, although you can make the cut circles work if you want to.
My suggestions:

  1. Put in alignment holes so that when you glue the circles back on you can stick a nail or something through the whole assembly and line up both sides perfectly.

  2. Sand the outside of the circles and the inside of the holes a little bit to get rid of the tiny ridges left by cutting.

  3. When you glue on the circles you need to try very hard not to squeeze glue out onto the surface around them. Try engraving a fine line just a hair larger then the circle to trap any squeeze out.

  4. The inside layers of most plywood are not very hard (they use the hardwood on the outside and softer wood inside), so they will wear out pretty quickly.

  5. Use dowels instead, but measure each one so you don’t get stuck by varying diameters. :slight_smile: Most wood dowels are not vey precisely manufactured…


If you go with a dowel, you can also consider going with a lot of hinge pieces and a long dowel. More assembly, but way reduces the load. Or even a rod, which may have better uniformity.


I’ve also found that Mcmaster has a lot of different materials and lengths of pins and they’re fairly cheap. If you know exactly how long the pin needs to be for a given assembly and the diameter you don’t have to worry as much about cutting things down yourself. Fishing tackle boxes make for great organization for excess pins.


I’m definitely liking the idea of the dowel. Originally I wanted the whole thing to be wood, but the precision of a metal pin/rod is intriguing to the point that I’m changing my mind. I can utilize a much smaller diameter of pin, and then further reduce the amount of material sticking out of the back of the box.

I kind of like the idea of a single pin across the entire back of the box, but I like minimalistic look of just a couple of hinges as opposed to a solid hinge covering the back of the box. Maybe a single pin, but with only a couple hinges, thus part of the pin is exposed.

Thanks everyone for the input. I’m definitely going to flesh these out some more and I’ll update with more polished designs as I go.

Oh yeah, I forgot to give credit to the site where I found the hinges… Thanks for the inspiration!


The only problem I see is way way too small. For the amount of cards my 30-40 year old friends have would need a pirate chest size heh.

Would be great to see a finished one.


Get old inkjet or laser printers. There are tons of beautifully straight rods to be had. A nice hack saw and a file would do the trick. Then again, if you are doing production, a steady supply might be in order. There was a short-lived topic on this.


The box for this hinge is meant to hold a single deck of 100 sleeved cards. It is meant to be big enough to hold double-sleeved cards, but I don’t double-sleeve, so I’m not sure. I looked up some dimensions in MTG forums and took the dimensions from there, adding a little bit more to each dim just to be sure.

I have thousands and thousands of cards as well. I will be using Glowforge for my storage solution for them as well. I intend to make trays that will insert into the drawers of a vintage filing cabinet that I found at a yard sale and knew it would work great for this purpose. I will be able to get three rows of cards about 20" deep into each drawer, and there are five or six drawers. I won’t need them all, maybe three and that will account for expanding pretty far into the future as new sets come out. My initial thought was to build a single unit, but I’m toying around with the idea of making an more versatile system so that they could conceptually fit into any given container… also it would make it easier to pull out just a single subset of cards as I need to do so.

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That link is the exact one I used for my inspiration. I need to get more adept at forum searching.

These are great for hinge pins.

They are precise, low friction, and easy to cut and file with hand tools.


phew when I saw that price I thought at first it was per each…

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I like it! I’m definitely going to have to order a nice assortment of those!

I understand you’re leaning towards a dowel for smaller diameter hinge assemblies.

But, did you consider taking inspiration from this iteration of likeablejerk’s entry of Design Challenge #1? Notice how the square axle sits in a square cut in the center of a circle. The axle-circle goes into a circle cut in the leg, allowing the throwing arm of the siege engine to rotate. It has the advantage of being all laser cut, without gluing and probably wouldn’t need any pieces on the end caps to keep the axle from shifting if the axle is a tight fit.


I have a soft spot for 100% laser projects with no pins, but you’re not going to go wrong either way. Nice work!


I agree that 100% laser cut is my preferred approach as well. I’m still debating which way to go.

I’m also going to be creating MTG deckboxes. However, I’m looking at snug sitting lids rather than hindged ones. Ultra Pro make one already but I’m looking at other designs as well.