I just bought some new hardware (knobs and latches) for the interior doors of my house. Currently the latches look something like this:

(source: homedepot.com)

And the new latches look something like this (at least the square shape, though I realize this particular latch looks like its for an exterior door):

Latch plate
(source: cavlon.com)

The problem is the second latch (the one that i bought) does not fit INTO the door frame. In otherwords, I can put the latch on but then its wont be flush with the door because apparently that square metal plate on the end is supposed to go INTO the door, so that the face of it is flush with the side of the door. I want a tool that can cut into the door so that the hardware will be flush with the door. I dont want to use a chisel because Im not a carpenter and Im not experienced with carpentry so I just want to make it as simple as possible. I've heard you can do such a thing with a router if you have the right bit and some templates but I dont have a router so I wonder if there is some other way?

So ultimately Id like to know if theres some tool I can use to do what Im trying to do and what that tool is called (or what my options are)?

edit ---

Just found out about the Ryobi door latch installation kit from home depot. Thoughts on that?

  • 1
    That Ryobi jig looks like a cool tool, but I've never personally used it. For ~$10.00 it's worth a try (on scrap wood of course).
    – Tester101
    Aug 6, 2012 at 11:45
  • Wow, I have this EXACT issue right this moment. :-) Mar 28, 2015 at 17:59

4 Answers 4


A router (along with a special guide) can be used to cut part of the inset you need, but is not the easiest tool to use if you are not experienced, and it does not cut square corners, which still require a chisel to finish.

Using a chisel does take care and practice, but it is not beyond the reach of even an amateur if you are willing to do a test piece first and then go very slowly.

You need to draw the opening with a sharp pencil (or and awl). Many people use a utility knife to cut the outline to slightly deeper than needed, then use a small, sharp chisel, following the grain of the wood (in this case toward the top and bottom, not across the door) taking very thin layers out until you are deep enough.

It does not need to be perfectly flat at the bottom of the channel, just the right depth at the ends with no high spots in between.

If you practice on a scrap of wood first, you may be surprised that you can do it.

  • thanks. what do you think of this? homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-202078675/h_d2/… also what is the technical terminology of what I am trying to do?
    – n00b
    Aug 6, 2012 at 2:57
  • Completely agree. The router will also require you to take down the door and there is way more setup work involved. Chisel is the way to go in this case.
    – Steven
    Aug 6, 2012 at 3:00
  • Just saw the video. no experience with it and it may work fine. It gets mixed reviews on HD's site.
    – bib
    Aug 6, 2012 at 3:00
  • 3
    cutting the channel into the edge is usually called mortising.
    – bib
    Aug 6, 2012 at 3:03

i usually mark that rectangle bit with the corner of the chisel or a utility knife. it's not that hard to chisel 2mm of wood. just remember that you need to have edge marks done first (with the chisel and hammer) before you do the little strokes to take out the wood. otherwise you'll take off a longer piece than desired. the chisel is mostly used with the totally flat side facing away from the work piece, so it doesn't bite in. little by little and before you know it, within half an hour, you'll have that ready. if you create a bit of a low spot on one side just fill with a bit of putty and let dry. maybe you're thinking it's difficult because you think it's done in one or two cuts? nope, it's done progressively. or you think that trades people do it perfectly with ease? some do...some cover up a big gash with whatever comes into their hand (cardboard, matches, etc.) and in the end it's not any big a deal as long as the rectangle sits flush and covers everything up anyways.

  • im sure I can complete the project via chiseling, though I have about a dozen doors to do so it will take me a long time since I have 0 experience. Thank you for the added tips on chiseling.
    – n00b
    Aug 6, 2012 at 15:39

I know this is a really old post but in case anyone is looking back at it you may not realize that often times the faceplates are removable.


Another option beyond cutting into the door is to identify which types of latches you're working with.

The original latch is a 'drive-in', while the replacement latch has a square corner face plate.

So you can look for a 'drive-in' latch from the manufacturer that works with the holes in your door, or you could drive to a different model hardware (e.g. Schlage appears to accommodate all three types of latches).

Another option if this were a metal clad door (e.g. entrance) and were starting with a 'drive-in latch: 'Pit Bull MDLT-1'steel door tool, to make indents on the door edge to accommodate latch face plates.


http://blog.directdoorhardware.com/2010/08/door-latch-comparison/ http://consumer.schlage.com/aboutschlage/documents/schlage_latch_sell_sheet_mr-1975.pdf

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