Home Construction Bleg: Hinges



One man. Two boys. Twelve kids.

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41 Responses

  1. Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

    Bite the bullet and get a Dremel.

    You’ll find another ten thousand uses for it in about a week.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

      grumblegrumble Doing this myself with slab doors was supposed to save money and I already had to buy a new drill and circular saw grumblegrumble I hate home ownership grumble grumbleReport

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kazzy says:

        at least your roof isn’t leaking…
        *grumble grumble*
        I’m taking bets on dead deer, too…Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Kazzy says:

        Kaz, an excuse to buy power equipment is the main benefit of home ownership!Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Kazzy says:

        Honestly, most of the “do it yourself, the early years” stage of home ownership is paying $350 to buy the right tools to fix a $10 problem that would have cost you $60 to hire some random dude to fix for you.

        After the first few iterations, you suddenly find one weekend that you’ve compiled a decent-sized list of $10 problems… and you don’t need to buy any tools, and you don’t even need to make a trip to the hardware store because you havea handful of 1 1/2″ #10 screws, and you know where they are.

        That’s right about the time when you start saying to yourself, “I’ve got this list of $200 problems that I know I could pay someone $1,000 to fix, or I could just do them myself….”

        That’s where I’m at.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

          Not my experience. Paid $1000 for new toilets (and install, mostly because of drop-floor)
          fished the hair out of the tub drain myself.
          Fixed the drainstack on the lower toilet.
          Paid in the five figures for someone to insulate our house (and remove the need for painting for 15 yrs., and new furnace and a.c.).

          used warranty to get a new water heater (city broke it, not us!).Report

  2. Avatar Daniel Kuehn says:

    If you don’t have a router make sure the chisel is real sharp. A sharpened chisel shouldn’t be all that gnarled.Report

  3. Avatar dexter says:

    First: I would recommend spending several seconds wondering why, just because you are smart, you think you should be able to walk up and do advanced carpentry.
    Second: I would recommend going to the web and spending some time studying how doors are hung.
    Third: Remember that hanging doors is one of the hardest things in carpentry to do right so it is necessary to keep a sense of humor about the end results.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to dexter says:

      I’m convinced that the employees at Home Depot underestimate the difficulty of the project…

      “Oh, yea, you can do that. Just buy this and this and you’re on your way.”
      [12 frustrating hours later]
      “Oh, well, yea, that happens sometimes. You’ll need this and this to correct for it.”
      [3 weeks later]

      Truth be told, I got the first door up and it really doesn’t look bad. If I touch up some of the gnarly areas with paint, it won’t even be noticeable. It is just frustrating and hard to do the hinge mortise… made harder by the fact that I stupidly thought a routing bit was a drill bit and attempted to use it as such with some fairly comical results. And I was hoping someone had a tip that didn’t involve another trip to Home Depot to spend a few hundred bucks.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kazzy says:

        Of course they do. I consult blogs when I can (they generally have “real repairmen” on there, willing to talk about how everyone screws up XYZ, well the good ones do).
        If I’m lucky, I can find universities who write pdfs for farmers (building a groundhog fence, once there’s no snow on the ground. why is there snow on the ground it’s the end of march? argghh!).

        You don’t know a problem and how to fix it, until you know both:
        1) Everything that can possibly go wrong
        2) How you/someone else will fix it.

        I heard about someone repairing a rotting wood floor. The next question is extent (is the next room’s floor also rotting), and what you do if you have dry rot. (it’s not my project, I don’t know more than that).Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Kazzy says:

        Home Depot employees are not well trained. I worked in grad school at Jerry’s, the largest family owned hardware in the world (or so they told us)–basically Home Depot or Lowes, but only two stores. We couldn’t compete on price, so we competed on service. Part of that service was knowing how to do stuff. We regularly had people telling us they came to our store instead of the Home Depot across town because nobody at Home Depot actually knew how to do stuff.

        (Unfortunately, I never worked in the doors department, so I can’t help you. Let me know when you need tips on tile, though. And I’m a wiz with a tile saw.)Report

        • Avatar Kimmi in reply to James Hanley says:

          Any tips on hanging bathroom mirrors? our workmen broke ours (it’s a flat one that was attached to the wall with some blackish substance…)Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Kimmi says:

            First I’d get rid of the broken one…

            I don’t like using heavy adhesives for something like that, although opinions differ. I’d get a frame with a mirror and use some mounting hooks to hang the frame on, then use some light duty adhesive strips at the bottom–the hooks hold the weight, the adhesive strips keep it aligned without having to bear the weight, and it’s easy to move off the wall without breaking if you remodel or repaint.

            Of course my bathroom mirror is the door of the medicine cabinet, which I think is actually the best solution.Report

            • I don’t like using heavy adhesives for something like that…

              Ditto. Assuming sheetrock, it’s just a matter of time before either (a) the adhesive ages enough to let go from one or the other surface, or (b) the paper peels off of the sheetrock. We have multiple 3-by-4-foot mirrors mounted with the L-shaped transparent plastic brackets — largish brackets and long screws run into the studs. 25 years in the house and they’re still up. Some people don’t like the way the brackets look, of course.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Okay. this actually sounds like a reasonably easy job. Can’t screw it up too much, other than dropping it or putting it on crooked.

                I also need to mortar up some holes in the brick facing (cracks and all).Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Kimmi says:

                Oh, lord, me, too. (How about that, a sentence that requires commas between every word!) My uncle the retired contractor assures me it’s easy.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Brackets are a good idea. I didn’t mention them because I’m one of those that don’t like the way they look, but that of course is an aesthetic choice.

                I’d also add that adhesives are problematic in bathrooms because of moisture–probably the worst room in the house to rely on adhesives.Report

      • Avatar Just Me in reply to Kazzy says:

        Here is a video that may help.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

        “Oh, yeah, you can do that. Just buy this and this and you’re on your way.”
        [12 frustrating hours later]
        “Oh, well, yea, that happens sometimes. You’ll need this and this to correct for it.”

        Ice-a cream! Get your tutsi-frutsi ice-a cream!Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to dexter says:

      Third: Remember that hanging doors is one of the hardest things in carpentry to do right so it is necessary to keep a sense of humor about the end results.

      I have no idea if this is true or not, but I can attest that hanging a door made me want to murder a truck load of kittens.

      I did, however, get it right. It was ugly (I did a hack job on the cosmetics), but I got it right.

      So if it *is* the hardest thing to do right in carpentry, that makes me feel better about potential woodworking projects in the future.Report

  4. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    When it comes to doors and windows, I won’t touch them. That’s for the pros. Hanging a door without the right equipment (and four hands) is nigh-on impossible.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to BlaiseP says:

      When my daughter moved into a house, we had deadbolt locks added. The locksmith charged a quite reasonable rate for three doors, I thought. More importantly, he had the $250 worth of templates and router bits to cut all of the odd shapes and depths. And the experience to get them right the first time.Report

  5. Avatar zic says:

    We rehabbed our house completely. Built in 1886, we gutted it in 1996 and rebuilt the entire inside, but being the thrifty thing I am, we re-cycled as much as we could. Including doors.

    Our carpenter used a router (SP?) to remove the excess material when a hinge needed to be relocated. If I could just go purchase one new piece of power equipment without concern for cost, that would be it.

    If you’re doing this by hand with a chisel, shims are your friend.Report

  6. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Kazzy, you can get little templates and router bits (you’ll need a trim router too) for the hinge cutouts. You’ll want to measure the existing hinge placements very carefully for each slab your working on. A story pole is good for this (just remember to add or subtract for the gap between the slab and the top of the jam).

    A utility knife and chisels work fine if they’re very sharp.Report

  7. Avatar MaxL says:

    I’ve made a lot of ratty hinge recess cuts, so happy to share some hard learned lessons. When you’re working with a chisel, a couple things can help:

    1) A sharp chisel helps a lot – if it’s sharp enough you don’t need a hammer to push it through the wood. A wide chisel is a lot harder to handle, something about 1″ or 3/4″ will be best.

    2) Score the entire cut with a razor knife first – including the 1/8″ depth mark on the side of the door. That is the one everyone will see (well, mostly just you) even with the door closed if something goes wrong. When you first start out with a chisel, it’s easy to make the initial cuts along the edge of the recess too deep if you use the chisel to do them. At the end, when you are cleaning up the edges and have to work against the grain, the chisel will dive to the depth of the score cut and it will look ratty. Use a razor knife instead, and use your tri-square as a straight edge for it.

    3) Tap the chisel lightly and always follow the grain so that the wood curls on top of the blade. The beveled edge of the blade always faces down. If the chisel starts to bite too deep, it means you are going against the grain and need to chisel from the opposite direction.

    4) Tap the chisel with the heel of your palm (or use the lightest finish hammer/wood mallet you own) to drive it through the wood.

    5) Mistakes happen. You can use matchbook covers as tiny shims and a wooden match or 2 to fill a bad pilot hole. If you totally screw the pooch, don’t worry. Bondo auto body filler fixes big mistakes on wood, too.Report

  8. Avatar dexter says:

    A person can use shims behind hinges to move the door toward the other side. For example, if a person put an 1/8 shim on the top hinge and a 1/16 hinge in the middle the door moves toward the doorknob at the top and also the side with the knob moves down. Shims are used to tweak the final stages.
    Shims are also used when the carpenter has a murphy moment and routes the hinges to deep and need to move the hinges away from the frame.Report

  9. Avatar Plinko says:

    My solution is to have a father who has very advanced carpentry skills, lots of patience and a desire to see his granddaughter frequently.

    Failing that, make sure you get a good raise so you can afford workmen for all the things that are either:
    A. Too hard to ensure you will do well enough to be happy with the results (doors/windows qualify)
    B. Too time consuming for all the hours you’re working now that you demanded that raise.Report

  10. Avatar Kazzy says:

    What I’m learning, both from what folks have said here and from experience, is that hanging doors is a very doable job, but requires a buttload of patience and attention to detail. Most importantly, provided you don’t fuck up the jamb, if you really butcher a door, a replacement is only $20. It’s hard to damage the hardware doing what I’m doing and the tools are already purchased so if an extra $20 or $40 is required, that ain’t so bad.

    And I was fortunate enough to incidentally start with doors interior to the rooms (e.g., connecting master bed and bath; nursery closet), which will ultimately be seen by far fewer eyes than the hallway doors. Theoretically, by the time I get to those, I should have some idea of what I’m doing.Report

  11. Avatar aaron david says:

    As others have said, router and jig. You mentioned once that you had been going to a special paint shop in town I believe? Ask them for a good hardware store recomendation. Home Depot and Lowes are good if you just need off the shelf items, but the most (not all) of the staff is LCD. A good hardware store, which will have real countermen (the employees who really know what is in the store, as they have memorized every part number and placed all of the stock) will give you a good idea of what you need, especially in an older home that is in the area they live/work in. They have probably been selling the same part to every other homeowner for years, and will know exactly what you are needing.
    If its a newer home, the hinges will be located pretty much the same distance in each door, as the doors come pre hung, and are just installed in the doorway and then trimmed out.
    Good luck, it only gets easier.Report

  12. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Thanks, everyone. My second set of hinge mortises already look infinitely better than the first, largely because of the advice offered here. I’m still working with the chisel, but am finding much greater success employing your tips (Special thanks to MaxL, who pointed out that I wasn’t even holding the chisel properly). I’ll post photos when I’m done.

    Now… on to the circular saw… what could go wrong?Report