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I had to cut a standard door (30x80) down to a custom size to fit into a custom opening for a renovation project. On the hinge side, I had to remove enough material that I am now past the solid plywood (?) on that side and the particle board (?) interior is exposed.

Is it OK to simple notch out for my hinges directly into the particle board? Should I be trying to replace the wood somehow?

I'm concerned because the door is not hollow and is very heavy, so I will be installing 3 hinges for sure and want the install to be solid.

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The problem is that whatever composite material you're referring to probably doesn't hold screw threads well or is simply too soft to sustain the screw shank. That's the primary reason for the solid wood insert rail (along with aesthetics and possible surface durability).

You have two primary options:

  1. Use long screws. 2-1/2" or 3" screws of adequate diameter (#12 or 14) should hold well enough. Mortise your hinges in accurately so that the screws don't carry all the shear load. Pilot the screws appropriately to avoid splitting.

  2. Rabbet out some of the composite material and install a replacement wooden rail. You could do this on a table saw with the door on edge if you have a steady-handed friend available. Bond it in place with urethane or high quality wood glue, clamp for a sufficient period, and do your mortises. Pre-drill with the proper size for your screws to prevent splitting.

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    Good call. Luckily I didn't toss the piece that I originally cut off, so I used a router to cut the composite out of the door down to the depth to match the original plywood piece. Next step is to glue the wood back into the hole, sand, and then route for the hinges. Thanks! – tresstylez Nov 3 '17 at 21:43
  • Even the original wood strips don't necessarily hold screw threads well enough. I had a baby-gate in a doorway, and a one-year-old managed to tear the screws out of the door's lower hinge attachment just by trying to shut the door on the baby-gate. I cut the original wood out of the hinge mortise with a Dremel, and used foaming urethane glue to attach a couple of strips of scrap oak in place of the original cheap wood. It's working pretty well so far. – Steve Nov 17 '17 at 0:13

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