Widen the Gap Under a Door
LESLIE: Steven in California finds The Money Pit on the Quake. And you have a door problem. What’s happening over there?
STEVEN: I got new carpet put in the bedroom and the solid wood doors rub against the carpet …
STEVEN: … and I need to take about a quarter inch off.
TOM: Okay. So what’s your question? How do you do that?
STEVEN: Yes, how do you do it? I need to take just a … and I’ve got a skillsaw but I … you know, I don’t want to freehand cut it because I’d …
STEVEN: I’d make a mess.
TOM: (clearing throat) Alright. Well, there’s a couple of ways to do this. First of all, get yourself a wipe-off marker and put a little X on the bottom of the door that you want to cut. And the reason you’re doing that is because you’re going to need to take this door off the hinges. And believe me, when it’s off the hinges and laying on those sawhorses, the top looks a lot like the bottom. (laughing) And you could easily cut the wrong side.
TOM: Don’t ask me how I know that. (laughing)
LESLIE: Sounds like Tom’s had experience with this.
TOM: But you want to mark the …
STEVEN: (overlapping voices) But that wouldn’t be any fun.
TOM: No, it would not be any fun. The next thing that you want to do is … I presume these are like finished wood doors. You know, like stained or … or are they painted?
STEVEN: No, they’re painted but they’re solid wood and the grain goes a different way from down the sides and across.
TOM: Okay. Well, it’s really not hard to do. If you have a skillsaw and … do you have a guide for the skillsaw?
STEVEN: Um …
TOM: You know, the fence?
STEVEN: Yeah, I have a guide for it.
TOM: Steven, what you’re going to want to do is if you take the bottom of the door and you have it up on the sawhorses, put some masking tape across the bottom of the door where you want to cut. What that does is helps minimize the splintering …
STEVEN: Right, okay.
TOM: … from the blade. Then, set the guide on your saw to take off more than what you think you’re going to need. Now, you mentioned a quarter of an inch. Do you have a forced air heating and cooling system in your house? Do you have central air conditioning?
STEVEN: Well, it doesn’t have air conditioning. Heat.
TOM: (overlapping voices) You have central heat? Are they …?
STEVEN: But it’s forced hot air.
TOM: Hot air? Okay. This is important because, probably, the return duct for your system might be centrally located; which means you need to have a pretty good gap under those doors for your heating system to work right.
LESLIE: So that air can circulate underneath the door.
TOM: Yeah, so you don’t just want a big enough gap for it to clear the carpet. You need about three-quarters of an inch to an inch under that door so when the door is closed, the air can circulate back to the return ducts.
STEVEN: Okay. Okay. I can do that.
TOM: (overlapping voices) So decide how much wood you want to take off, set the fence – set the guide – on the circular saw, and then cut it off in one shot. If you want to draw a line on there to help keep you honest, you can do that. Another thing to do is you could take a strip of wood that is just slightly longer than the door is wide. And take some small finish nails and tack it on there in line with the cut line. And basically, you’re kind of tacking a fence onto it.
STEVEN: Right, okay.
TOM: And then you rub the saw base against that. When you pull it off, you’ll have a couple little nail holes to finish but it’s a painted door so no big deal. And then you’ll have a guaranteed straight cut and you won’t have to worry about your hand wobbling.
STEVEN: Okay. Yeah, that’s what I … that’s what I’m worried about. That’s … I think I’ll try that.
TOM: Alright, just nail a piece … nail a strip of wood across. You have to offset, you have to measure the distance from the blade to the edge of the table on the circular saw so you know what the offset is. And then, you can just basically run the saw right against that piece of wood. Just make sure it’s …
LESLIE: And remember that, depending on which direction you come at it with the circular saw, you could be … one side I think is an inch and a half and the other side is like five inches. So make sure you measure the right side of the guard on the blade.
STEVEN: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Okay, I’ll do that.
TOM: Right. And if you’re going to use a corded circular saw, make sure you’ve got plenty of slack in that cord that you’re not going to like run out like three-quarters away through the cut.
TOM: Because you really want to make one complete pass. And it’s really not that hard. Make sure you have a sharp blade and you’ll be good to go. Sand the bottom of that door a little bit and make sure you paint the bottom before you put it back together so you seal the underside edge that you just cut; otherwise, the door could warp if moisture gets in there.
STEVEN: Okay. Alright, that sounds good.
TOM: Alright, Steve?
TOM: Good luck.
STEVEN: Alright, thank you.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.