How do I retrofit cabinets with soft-close hardware?

Q:

My neighbor just got new kitchen cabinets with doors that don’t slam shut. I want the same. Can I retrofit my existing cabinets with this type of hardware?
—Ethan Hamilton, Buffalo, N.Y.

A:

You can, Ethan. Here are two methods to do it.
OPTION 1: Replace the hinges. If you already have European-style concealed hinges on your cabinets, you can probably replace them with soft-close models. Blum’s Blumotion, Salice’s Silentia, and Grass’s TEC may do the trick. Soft-close pistons built into the hinge cup or onto the arm ensure a slam-free closure.

Pros:
•Some models have on/off switches, letting you disengage the soft-close feature if you wish.
•Depending on the door size, you might need to replace only half or two-thirds of its hinges with soft-close versions. Experiment to find out.

Cons: 
•Soft-close hinges cost more ($4–$10 each, depending on brand) than standard hinges.
•Some models might not fit precisely in the existing mounting holes. For best results, stay with the same manufacturer as your original hinges. 
•If you have a less-common hinge style, such as for inset doors, you might not find a replacement version.

OPTION 2:  Add a plunger. If you can’t find the right hinges, or don’t want to swap out the ones you have now, you can always install plunger-style pistons, like the one shown above. Selling for about $10–$15 apiece, these screw onto the face frame or side panel, or into a hole bored into the cabinet, to slow the door as it closes the last inch or so. They work on just about any door with a snap-close hinge.

Send your woodworking questions to askwood@woodmagazine.com

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