For a finely crafted look, inset doors help give style to a traditional-style cabinet. But the demand for dead-on alignment can make installation difficult. Here, along with the right hardware, is a no-hassle way to tackle the task.
First, use an adjustable non-mortise hinge, such as the one shown in the photo at em. These hinges (from Lee Valley, 800/871-8158, or leevalley.com) automatically leave a 1/16" hinge-side gap. Slotted screw holes in the hinges allow fine-tuning of the door's horizontal and vertical positions after installation.
Before you install the hinges, cut a gauge block the same length as the dimension from the door's corner to the edge of the hinge leaf. Clamp the block to the door. Flush with its edge, butt the hinge against the block and drill pilot holes at the centers of the slotted holes only, as shown in the bottom left drawing.
Now, cut a second gauge block 1/16" longer (to match the hinge-side gap) than the first. Use this block to position the hinges on the carcase, as shown at top, Once again, drill pilot holes centered in the slots.
Finally, mount the hinges and test-fit the doors. You should have a 1/16" gap around all four sides of the door. Once the door is aligned, each hinge leaf has a hole or holes to permanently fix the hinge's position. When you're satisfied with the fit, drill pilot holes and drive screws into the holes.
--Chuck Hedlund, WOOD® magazine staff