Door hinges are very old, but they've usually been made out of iron or bronze. Before metal was widely available and inexpensive, what did common people use for door hinges?

  • 6
    Leather was common as a hinge.
    – MCW
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 0:20
  • 4
    Also to consider: many openings had flaps of fabric or other flexible materials rather than solid doors (hinges irrelevant).
    – bgwiehle
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 1:28
  • @bgwiehle, I'm specifically interested in doors, not flaps.
    – Joe
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 5:35
  • 1
    Leather seems to be most common. But wooden hinges are also usable.
    – Matt
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 11:10
  • 1
    Copper nails, bronze nails, even wooden nails - or you can tie the leather to the door. Heck, you can even use stone shims. People built things for thousands of years before they learned to smelt iron.
    – MCW
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 15:46

1 Answer 1


Apart from leather hinges that were used even when iron was common (but not so common as to be cheap), there existed the different mounting of the door. I have heard about its use from my grandfather, when I asked for explanation about what is the "heel" of the door in Russian fairy-tales.

The whole side of the door frame worked as a huge hinge - this side was made of a bit longer piece of wood, that fitted into shallow holes in the appropriate places in the outer frame. The sticking out pieces were called "heels". They are mentioned by several Russian fairy-tales, when a Door asks a hero to grease her heels. (The good hero does and gets some help).

Obviously, the very thick and heavy wooden doors of the old Russian houses simply could not be held by leather strips. (The boards were extremely expensive). And the leather had yet to be attached to the door somehow, too.

  • Now I'm really glad I asked this question -- I'd never heard of doors like this before!
    – Joe
    Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 1:07
  • I have only heard about them and never saw them myself. I suppose that mount could be used in the wooden architecture of the Russian North, Kizhi and around it. Maybe, somebody was there? ... A very interesting question it is. This is the real history - not wars and kings.
    – Gangnus
    Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 8:16
  • I had to read this several times in order to picture it in my mind's eye, but wow! Cool door!
    – user18968
    Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 6:06

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