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I want a new exterior door. I went to Lowe's, and the Jeld-Wens there had the hinges at the wrong heights for my jamb. They told me to measure my heights and they would custom order.

I've measured my hinge heights as well as I can, but I'm a little suspicious that my measurements are precise enough that the new door will fit perfectly. On the other hand, if door manufacturers always place them to the nearest 1/8" (say), then maybe I'm all right.

I measure (the tops of) my hinges at 6 3/4", 37 1/2", and 68 1/2". That makes the distance between the middle and top 30.75", and the middle and bottom 31". That seems a little odd to me.

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    Is your jamb painted or natural wood? Reason I ask is that it's unlikely that all the hinges will match your existing, and you'll end up doing a little re-cutting of the mortises on the jamb and then having gaps. If it's paint grade, no biggie. If not, you should go to a real door supplier that can order you a slab that they (or you) can then match to your existing door. Aug 25, 2020 at 23:07
  • You might save yourself a lot of headache and extra work by opting for a pre-hung door. Yes, you'll have to remove and replace the entire door plus the frame but in the end I believe that may be simpler. For the inexperienced, and that includes myself, hanging a door into an existing frame is quite tricky to get right.
    – jwh20
    Aug 26, 2020 at 10:00

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That's a valid concern. 1/8" is a lot with this kind of thing. I'd want 1/16" precision or better. I'd expect that if you give them locations to 1/32" (not that difficult even with a standard tape measure) you'd be ok.

I would order a door without hinge mortises (or just buy a standard slab) and do that part myself. If you just buy a slab you can temporarily screw the hinges on, verify height and operation, mark the hinge locations and do the mortising work.

Depending on your hinge style, that may just involve shallow cross-cuts and a little chisel work, without any corner shaping. If you do want to fit round-leaved hinges, a Forstner bit would do a nice job there to get the radii cut.

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    When i mortise a new door slab for hinges i take the old door and lay it on top of the new door, lining it up exactly side to side top to top, then use a square to transfer the hinge locations to the new door slab. I use a router template device to route out the mortise.
    – Alaska Man
    Aug 25, 2020 at 19:30
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    That's not a bad idea, but sometimes total slab height and/or weather seal configuration confound that approach. I'd double-check after doing the location transfer by hanging the door temporarily.
    – isherwood
    Aug 25, 2020 at 19:34
  • Thanks! I'm not very handy, and don't have any of the tools required for mortising. And Lowe's won't sell or order me a slab, so I suppose I should measure locations to 1/32"! The measurement is taken from the top (of the inside) of the jamb to the top of each plate, right?
    – A_P
    Aug 25, 2020 at 19:36
  • You'd have to ask your supplier, but probably.
    – isherwood
    Aug 25, 2020 at 19:37
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    When I mortice a door slab I open the hinges on the jamb place the door in the doorway opening with packers to maintain the cracks, close the hinges against the back of the door and scribe their position in the corner of the slab with a knife or chisel.
    – Jasen
    Aug 27, 2020 at 13:40

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