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Blog entry by patron posted 03-30-2011 03:39 AM 8965 reads 8 times favorited 45 comments Add to Favorites Watch

throughout my career as a woodworker/carpenter
i have hung many new doors to existing jambs
the hinge placement its critical
as i must leave the existing hinges in the jamb
and transfer that to the door

the hinges are usually different sizes
with different corner details
and offset to different dimensions
depending on the pre-built standards
of any given door maker
(they are never the same just visually close)

over the years i have come to know and struggle with these diferences

you have someones new door
they are all waiting watching
something is not right and you start to wish they had never called

after measuring and marking with a tape
(a hit and miss event)
and making story boards
(which i still do)
to make the following hinge jigs
to help me get it right

the evolution of these jigs took some time to do right
this is a typical first try made by marking and cutting the hinge profile
with a table saw and a jig saw

today i make them much better and faster
here’s how
start with a thin strip
usually the thickness of the hinge inset off the edge of the door
rip a piece of stock (i use ply or particle board)
wider than the hinge inset on the door
(there must be room for the router bit to enter and exit
without eating the jig or leaving the front hinge cutout round)
and glue and pin this to the strip
(you want to do this against a straight piece
so it doesn’t curve and wander)

now take the hinge itself and put it against the filler block
(watch the hinge pin)
and butt more stock to the hinge
and cut it to the edge of the middle or next hinge
and glue and pin also
repeat this process till you have as many hinges as you like

now pin and glue the other side strip to the jig
i make then different sizes by 1/16” to give the door heel some clearance
so it doesn’t rub the jamb as it closes
and has room for the finish if that has not been done yet


make sure you have the top end of the jig to the top of the door jamb
and mark it for the reveal of the door top (1/16 or 1/8 or whatever)
and the bottom marked as well

now its just a matter of screwing nailing or clamping the jig to the door edge
with the right edge to the door edge
(remember the jamb clearance here)
and route this way by setting the router bit to the jig and hinge thickness

a note here
i use mostly short 1/2” patterning bits
as the standard 1” one is to long
and requires a thicker jig
so the bearing has a place to ride
the 1/2” bit also leaves me a 1/4” round hinge corner
it that is the type of hinges used
if they are square corner
i use my chisel to ‘clip’ the corner of the cut out
before removing the jig

sometimes making a big one is too much under the work conditions
so i have a set of open ended single jigs
for different hinge sizes and corner details
and use them to the special needs

so a quick review

1 – make the jig to the top of the jamb
and mark the door clearance there
in the jamb butt it tight
on the door move it to the door clearance mark

2 – use the appropriate edge of the jig on the door and jamb
(or it will be to tight and the door wont close)

3 – use a short router bit of a smaller size
(unless you are doing those 1 1/4’ round corners
which require a hand made corner detail)
with them i usually use my single jig
and mark things carefully

4 – don’t count on any two doors to be the same
(if they are all pre-hungs from the same maker
you might luck out)
but usually the exterior doors are different

5 – this can be done for smaller doors (cabinets and such)
and boxes too
it just takes time and attention to smaller details

hope this helps someone
if you have any questions

call A1jim lol

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

45 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117061 posts in 3540 days

#1 posted 03-30-2011 03:48 AM

Did someone call? Good blog David .The only thing I think might be better is if you used purple heart for all your jigs like kent. LOL

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View donjoe's profile


1360 posts in 2994 days

#2 posted 03-30-2011 03:53 AM

David, very informative as well as useful info. Thanks for putting this one on.

-- Donnie-- listen to the wood.

View patron's profile


13600 posts in 3304 days

#3 posted 03-30-2011 03:54 AM

good point jim

as long as it lasts
then i can quit altogether
and watch TV

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Woodwrecker's profile


4137 posts in 3539 days

#4 posted 03-30-2011 03:56 AM

I think this is about my 20th “thank you” to you David.
I think you are #1 on my favorited stuff list.

-- Eric, central Florida / Utor praemia operibus duris

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3449 days

#5 posted 03-30-2011 04:13 AM

Very clever sensei, and useful.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View ShopTinker's profile


884 posts in 2732 days

#6 posted 03-30-2011 04:30 AM

Great Blog, I’ve never tried it with a jig. I’ve always marked the new door off of the old door. Cut inside the lines and hand fit each hinge. I think your system is way faster.

-- Dan - Valparaiso, Indiana, "A smart man changes his mind, a fool never does."

View patron's profile


13600 posts in 3304 days

#7 posted 03-30-2011 04:47 AM

when i make custom doors
and jambs
i see if one i have comes close
and use it

saves me lot’s of time for sure

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2496 posts in 3070 days

#8 posted 03-30-2011 05:29 AM

Now we know why there has to be an apprenticeship program in woodworking. I can only imagine what it would be like to get to spend a year working with you. Definitely a young woodworkers dream. Thank you for the info. Rand

View devann's profile


2246 posts in 2656 days

#9 posted 03-30-2011 05:37 AM

Thanks David, wish I’d meet you long ago. I already have the Porter Cable plastic jigs. You take three of them and attach them to a strip of plywood in the proper spacing and wa-la. I’ll make one of your kind the next time I do big doors with four hinges. The pattern bit that comes in the Porter Cable jig is cool, it cuts a square corner with that round bit. It has a funny shape to it and you set the hinge jig square side inside and 1/8” big. You flip the adjustment over for round hinge or square and set to the proper hinge length.
And while we’re talking doors David, I have a small Stanley vise that kinda looks like one of those hobby vises that rotates and can be clipped on a 2x, sawhorse, deck rail etc. I like it for holding the door so I can work on it. I got it at Big Lots for $5. If you see one, snag it.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 3154 days

#10 posted 03-30-2011 08:11 AM

Good timing David, I have to build new screen doors this spring for
the front and back door of the new place. We have all these great
brand new windows but no screened doors to let the fresh air in better!

I’ve never made a door before- or installed one.


-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 2802 days

#11 posted 03-30-2011 08:34 AM

I could have used this blog 3 days ago….. :) But it’s nice to have it today.

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View littlecope's profile


3071 posts in 3465 days

#12 posted 03-30-2011 08:57 AM

Smart, Fast, and Accurate…
That New Shop you’re building… You should give some thought into making it into “The Patron’s School of Advanced Wood Working and Carpentry”
If you need a cafeteria cook, let me know!! :)

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View tdv's profile


1188 posts in 3033 days

#13 posted 03-30-2011 09:44 AM

David I use a similar method I bought a Trend hinge jig & found it very limited it would only cut fixed spacings & it doesnt work in rebated door casings. So I started making my own like your small versions to do one hinge at a time . Just one addition if I may? a lot of the old properties I work in (around 19th century) are in poor repair with hinge recesses that look like they were carved out with a screwdriver. So I made a version with a bigger pocket & cut out the old hinge recess & fill it with a dutchman (I carry a supply of milled stock with me to fit my jig) then just cut the new hinge to current standard into new wood & it always makes a neat job

-- God created wood that we may create. Trevor East Yorkshire UK

View patron's profile


13600 posts in 3304 days

#14 posted 03-30-2011 11:48 AM

good solution to the old loose screws
and torn parts trevor i’ll have to do something similar
job site ‘dutchmen’ take to much time
. michael you will have first choice
i used to be a dishwasher in greasy spoons
we could help each other
and have more time in the shop
. bob and kelly i need to build a door soon
will do a full tutorial about it
stay tuned
. darrel i’ve used various jigs too
but the price for some rigs
is just to much for the ocasional door work i do
and some are set within standards
so doing off size and custom
is just to hard for them

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18244 posts in 3639 days

#15 posted 03-30-2011 12:21 PM

I don’t think I’ll change any doors after all, unless David is coming north for a few days ;-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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