I have to hang several new six panel interior doors. Since these are not pre-hung they don't have the recesses cut away for hinges or the bolt or the door handle. I have the jig to use to cut out the hole for the handle. However, I don't know where to begin to cut away the recesses for the hinges. I suppose I could just use a chisel but that seems slow and likely to result in rough corners and uneven depth. I thought about using a routing tool as well.

What is the correct, professional way of prepping the door to be hung on an existing frame?

1 Answer 1


You'll find good resources on the web that have already been written/video'd with a search term like "How to Mortise Hinges on Interior Door".

If I wasn't using a purpose-built jig for this task, I'd use a router freehand to get most of the hinge mortise cut, and finish the edges with a sharp chisel.

It's not clear if the existing jambs are already mortised for hinges, but if they are, I'd make a story stick** to mark your door.

Pay attention to how plumb/square the jamb is, as that'll affect where the door will sit within. (Just as an example, if the head of the jamb is sloped, you'll either accept an uneven reveal across the top, or custom cut the top of the door to fit the opening. Either of these will affect where the hinges go.)

When you've cut your mortises, be prepared to play around with the fit... sometimes strategically loosening a few screws to get the hinge leaf to sit right will be all it takes to get a door to fit well.

I'm not going to lie to you: doing new doors in old construction isn't easy. Take your time. Do the least visible one first and learn from it.

** story stick (story pole) -- a stick (1x1 or 1x2 works well) around 78" for most interior door applications but ymmv. Simply hold it up to the top of the door jamb on the hinge side, mark about 1/8" for the reveal, then continue down the stick and mark where the existing hinges start and stop. ((This is where you need to know if the top of your door jamb is level! If it isn't, you should probably cut the door first, then lay out your hinges.)) Carry the stick over to your door; set it aligned to the 1/8" mark and the top of the door, and transfer the marks for your hinge locations. If you're lucky, all your doors are the same, and you'll only have to use one set of marks.

  • I'd make a story stick I don't know what this is. Sounds fun though.
    – Yuck
    Mar 20, 2017 at 17:25
  • I'm replacing doors that were hollow slabs and had been painted over by the previous homeowner. I can use the existing doors to make a pattern for the new ones. I'm mostly worried about cutting out the recesses - or mortising I guess - since using a chisel takes too long and/or requires skill I don't possess.
    – Yuck
    Mar 20, 2017 at 17:26
  • Added info about story stick for the benefit of anyone in the future. If your existing doors fit well, they're probably a good template for subsequent doors. (Note where they've been nipped/tucked when you're using them as a template.) If you haven't purchased your replacement doors yet, you should know that a lot of door shops (the real ones -- not the evil orange box) will do the work of mortising/cutting new doors based on existing ones for not-a-lot-of-money. If the existing doors didn't fit very well, then it's a little harder to get a good result from the door shop. Mar 20, 2017 at 17:43

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