Wood Door and Hinge Installation

One of our customers, a private school contacted us to have a new door installed in their basement. At some point in time, for some unknown reason, the door was removed from the frame and discarded. The room was purposed for storage. The principal decided he again wanted to use the room for its intended purpose but needed a door to keep the contents secure.

Sometimes the easiest approach to replacement is to do ‘like for like’. That means installing the same exact thing as was there before. In this case that wasn’t possible as the door was missing. I don’t like to blindly take the ‘like for like’ approach without investigating all aspects of the job. One concern that frequently is validated is what if the original installer/security company/locksmith/contractor did not specify and/or install the most appropriate hardware and door for its use? I see this problem on a daily basis, so called security professionals installing hardware or doors that are not fire/life safety code compliant or are too light weight for the specified use. The result is locks and door hardware that fail prematurely. This ends up costing the customer significantly more in the long run. In the case of fire/life safety, the hardware may put people’s lives in jeopardy.

Back to the job. I surveyed the existing frame and determined a few things. First, the frame was wood. Based on the fact that the adjacent doors and frames were wood, it was a safe bet to assume that this opening had a wood door as well. The second thing I noticed was that someone had previously made an ‘adjustment’ to the hinge preps (See photo 1). Not only does this look awful, a poorly adjusted hinge affects the way a door swings and closes. It may prevent the door from closing completely or cause a bind while the door is swinging open. I carefully recorded measurements of the opening in the frame, hinge locations and its handing. Handing is important for doors, frames and some locksets. A left hand door will not fit into a right hand frame. Hinge locations are also extremely important because if you measure incorrectly the hinge cutouts in the door will not line up with the hinge cutouts in the frame. This means the door will not be able to be hung.

Photo 1

Even though the adjacent doors were hollow wood cardboard core doors, I recommended a solid wood door. Hanging a heavier door meant more weight was going to be placed on the hinges and the frame. The frame only had two hinge preps from the lighter weight door. I decided to add an additional two hinges to the door and frame to provide adequate support and ensure a long service life. Adding these hinges requires making the appropriate hinge preps in the door and frame. I use a router and hinge template jig to cut in the preps. As seen in photos 2 and 3, the jig not only makes for a professional appearance, but also ensures consistent distance from the door stop on the jamb. Obviously, the jig cannot determine the height measurement on the frame, so this is carefully measured out with a tape measure.

Photo 2

Photo 3

Installing the jig requires removal of the frame molding. This can be seen in photo 4. Also note the door has been hung with all 4 hinges. The last thing to do for this door is to install the lockset. The lockset needs to be installed at the height of the existing strike plate on the frame. This measurement and alignment is important otherwise the door won’t lock properly and will look sloppy. Photo 5 shows the completed job: the door, molding reinstalled and hinges and lockset installed.

Photo 4

Photo 6