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I saw this wooden laptop case on Wired‘s Gadget Lab today, and it’s all right if you’re into that sort of thing. But what really caught my attention were the cool little hinges incorporated into it. They’re hidden hinges, in that the hinge mechanism folds up inside itself, leaving no space between the case and the lid. Note, too, the use of what looks like a standard hex-head screw countersunk into the lid to connect with a countersunk magnet in the case to act as a catch.

I’ll admit that my interest in this case probably comes from my father. He was a total nut for boxes — boxes of any type, but especially those made of wood. We had scores of them around the house: small matchbox-sized boxes to hold jewelry or small parts, cigar box-sized boxes used as valets or to store electronic devices, and so on. I think part of his fascination with them came from the fact that building a box is often such a small project that it encourages over-design; it gives the builder the opportunity to show off, incorporating the craziest (and coolest) joinery techniques and hardware.

Anyway, I’m on the lookout for these hinges, so if you happen to know where to find them — or know of a good source for other cool hardware of this type, let us know in comments. I’m looking forward to it.

Wooden Laptop Case w/Leather Lining [Rainer Spehl] [via]


16 Responses to Wooden Laptop Case, Cool Hinges

  1. John says:

    Those are called barrel hinges. You can get them at Rockler or any good woodworking shop. http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=270&filter=barrel%20hinge

  2. rori says:

    a company called Soss makes them in all kinds of sizes.

  3. Charlie C says:

    I have a url that you can use to locate these hinges.

  4. jeepnut says:

    Rockler has them in their catalog…

  5. Brad Justinen says:

    common place in any furniture maker’s shop i’m sure.

  6. Charlie C beat me to it! I was going to suggest Lee Valley.

  7. Seth Joseph Weine says:

    Rori is right to mention Soss — a manufacturer that, for decades, has been the king of this kind of hinge. Indeed, when architects spec. or refer to these type of hinges, they’ll generally just call them “Soss hinges”.
    It is worth getting one of their catalogs, or checking out their website—they make them in a great variety of sizes and abilities to take different loads. Soss will also make available technical drawings and tables showing the clearances that the hinges develop as they go through various stages of opening.

  8. Seth Joseph Weine says:

    One more thing:
    For hardware-o-philes, hinges, in general, are a fascinating topic. And “invisible” hinges—ones that leave no(or minimal)exposed parts when the door or hatch is closed, yet allow for all the clearances needed when something opens—are the most fascinating of all: a sort of hardware magic!
    Posts about this topic would, I’d imagine, be welcome on our favorite website: Toolmonger!

  9. Mr P says:

    Mcmaster page 2981
    these beral hinges are much easier to install than a soss hing but they are only good for small stuff

  10. mickeyrat says:

    Ive been using them for years but they are quite expensive

  11. John says:

    @Mickeyrat… I think cost is the only turnoff, if it even is that big of one.

  12. gary zumwalt says:

    The barrel hinges come in several sizes and are great to use not only for their ease of installation, but they also are great for doors or lids that need to lift a bit for clearance when opening. I have used these for years on boxes and small doors on grandfather clocks.
    You do need to be exact with measurements or you can use dowel points.

  13. KoKo the Talking Ape says:

    Are they fussy to align? I could imagine installing one side rotated slightly in that round hole, so that the other side won’t go into its hole.

    BTW, I can see some issues with the case design. For one, those hinges (and the little holes they are mounted in) will get a lot of wear and tear, since they are the only things holding the lid aligned and in place. I would prefer some kind of lip around either the box or the lid so that when the lid is knocked sideways, the case takes the strain, not just the hinges. Also, I would imagine a magnet is either too not strong enough to hold the lid closed or too strong to open easily (or both); I could see me having to yank the lid open, putting more stress on the hinges. A hasp of some kind would be stronger and easier to use. And the side walls of the case have to be thicker their entire length to accommodate the hinge holes. Why have hinges at all? Just make the lid a snug friction fit. If the lip is deep enough, air suction will keep the lid on securely.

  14. ron says:

    Barrel Hidden Hinge 14mm Solid Brass HS-H61014
    by D. Lawless
    Price: $4.43
    Available at external website D. Lawless Hardware.

  15. Seth Joseph Weine says:

    I believe that Soss offers templates, to assist in installation.

  16. Scott in NC says:

    These hinges are very cool and I’ve used a bunch of them too. These are not properly installed, though. If you look closely there is a recess in the brass body on the side just opposite of what looks like a screw. This recess is designed for a wood screw to be installed to prevent the barrel from rotating in the hole. If they rotate the box won’t open properly or worse, it’ll crack. The part that looks like a screw actually is a little wedge that causes a split in the brass barrel to spread in the hole. I’m a trainer for a company who sells theses, and the only time they fail is when this extra screw is missing.

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