Cabinets can be found throughout industry, commerce and in private homes. In industrial contexts, the word “cabinet” can be used to describe a simple, permanent tool storage compartment, or it can be used to describe a small sandblasting enclosure. In office buildings, ornate cabinets can be installed in offices and lobbies, and simple cabinets can be installed in office break rooms for the storage kitchenware. Cabinetry is valued for its visual appeal and for its functionality; context always determines which feature takes priority.
Simple cabinets for use in industrial settings like warehouses or factories can feature nothing more than metal sheets welded together and affixed with a door by simple butt hinges. Butt hinges are nothing more than plates bent at their edges and joined by a pin; they are fastened to the surface of the door and the cabinet. Other hinge designs are more complicated.
Hinges vary in the degree to which they are visible when the doors they support are closed. European hinges, for example, are not at all visible while closed. Surface mounted hinges are completely visible, and depending on the context they can be simple plates or specially designed for visual appeal. Whether or not all or part of a cabinet hinge will be visible depends on the hinge’s configuration. If placed on the door’s outer surface, it will certainly be visible, and if placed on the inner surface, the hinge’s rounded knuckle may or may not be visible where the door and cabinetry meet.
Hinges that are intended to be visible are often made of stainless steel, brass or another material that maintains its sheen. A cabinet hinge’s appearance is less important if completely concealed while closed, though in homes they still tend to meet higher standards of visual appeal compared to similar hinges used in purely industrial applications. Some cabinetry is equipped with spring hinges, which assist in closing cabinet doors or in preventing them from closing; such springs are used across the many contexts in which cabinets are used to make cabinetry more user-friendly.