LESLIE: Charles in Arkansas is on the line and needs some help putting in a door. What can we do for you?
CHARLES: Got an old door I’m replacing on the front of my house. It’s an exterior door. I bought an oak door – solid door – to replace it. I did not measure for the hinges when I bought the door. I just measured for the doorknob and I don’t know how to cut those grooves for the hinges: those 4-inch hinges that go on the door.
TOM: So we know the door fits into the jambs, it fits into the opening? We just need to figure out to get it hinged? Is that correct?
CHARLES: I just need to know how to cut the door for the hinges.
TOM: But the door does fit the opening right now, so you have an existing opening it can fit into.
CHARLES: Well, yes. A matter of fact, you know, if you ask for 80-inch door, you’re going to get about 83- or 82½-inch door, so it’s just adequate on size. It’s just a matter of the cutting of the hinges.
TOM: OK. So it’s really just a case here of being very accurate in how you lay this out. So you have to remember that when you set the door in the opening, you need about a ¼-inch of space above the door just to allow for expansion and contraction and adjusting the door. So what you want to do is measure down from the top of the door and measure up from the bottom of the door until your first hinge position. I would put those maybe 8 or 10 inches down from the top and equally – equidistant up from the bottom and then the third one right in between.
And remember that what you want to do is – you can take that door, set it on its side. You can lay the hinge right over it where it’s going to be attached and you can draw an outline of that hinge onto the door. And then with a really sharp chisel, you’re essentially going to notch out the thickness of the hinge material itself, which is really something in the order of a 1/16-inch or so of material that will come off of that, so that when the hinge is on the door it lays completely flat. The idea here is that the hinges don’t really take up any space.
And now, once you have those set on a door, you’re going to put the exact same – in the exact same locations, you’re going to notch them out into the jamb in much the same way. You’ve just got to be really accurate with your measurements to make sure they line up properly. Another way to do this is to put them in the jamb first, set the door in place, kind of shim it up and get it exactly where you want, then transfer the marks over. Either way, the alignment is key.
And once you do that, when you’re ready to put it all together, the trick of the trade is when you start to drive the screws in and hold the hinge plates on, don’t drive them all the way home. Leave them a little bit loose so you have some slop in that hinge. It’ll make it a lot easier for you to get it all back together. And then you can tighten it up once the hinge pins are in place.
CHARLES: That’s what I wanted to find out.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.