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A continuous hinge is a long hinge with a wide range of motion, typically used in the manufacture of cabinets and furniture. Also known as a piano hinge, the continuous hinge is generally used as a single unit, spanning the entire length of the hinge area of a door or lid. Hinges come in long lengths that can be cut to size and are typically pre-drilled with holes evenly spaced along each wing. In most cases, the continuous hinge is constructed of light metal with a joint and pin section that is very light relative to the wings, with heavy-duty examples available when needed. The hinges are also available in a selection of plastic materials suitable for epoxy fixing instead of screws or rivets.
The continuous hinge was initially developed to provide the hinge joint in piano lids, hence its alternative name. To achieve a robust yet unobtrusive joint in this application, the hinge was designed to be lightweight, with a small central pin and gaskets that allowed the piano lid to close with a very small hinge gap or to open fully backwards without impairing the appearance of the cabinets. To ensure that the hinge provided sufficient strength for the often heavy lids, it was designed to span the entire length of the lid, secured at regular intervals with wood screws. The hinge was eventually adopted by furniture and cabinet manufacturers for a wide variety of low-profile applications.
Generally available in extended lengths, even being presented on a roll at times, the continuous hinge is made of light gauge laminated steel with wide wings relative to a relatively small pin and joint section. In most cases, the hinge pin is little more than a core of large-gauge wire extending its entire length. When a hinge is needed, the required length is measured and cut with a saw. The hinge is usually pre-drilled with a series of holes evenly spaced along each wing. The holes are usually close together, so during installation the number of screws or rivets used can be adjusted to suit the application.
The small articulated section of the continuous hinge allows for excellent range of motion as well as subtle joint spaces. They are also available in a reinforced guise, however, should the need arise. A selection of lightweight plastic or acrylic continuous hinges are also available in a wide range of colors. These hinges are generally not pre-drilled for fastening screws or rivets, but rather designed for use with acrylic adhesives.