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I am wondering if it's entirely necessary to mortise a door and jamb for hinges and other miscellaneous door hardware. The only thing I can think of is that, in addition to being screwed in, the mortising increases integrity by locking the hinge in place provided that the fit is tight. Outside of that, it looks like it comes down to aesthetics and just looks nicer.

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Well, let's take hinges for example. They typically have plates 3 or more millimeters thick and with two such plates it means you need a 6 millimeters gap between the door and the frame to accomodate the hinges. Do you really want a 6 millimeters gap? It will conduct noise, let unwanted cold/hot air through the door, it'll be very easy to put a crowbar and break the door open.

If you don't care of having a huge gap - no problem, you can install hinges without making mortises for them.

  • I always assumed that the mortises carried some load as well. – Evil Elf Apr 11 '13 at 12:16
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    @EvilElf: You'd have to make them with ultra precision for that. Usually they are a bit larger so that the hinge is easy to insert and then all the load goes to the screws. – sharptooth Apr 11 '13 at 12:21
  • They make special hinges that don't require a mortise and don't take up that much extra room: woodcraft.com/category/1002188/nonmortise-hinges.aspx – Steven Apr 11 '13 at 13:11
  • @Steven: Great, but this assumes you're willing to tolerate the gap as wide as the hinge plate thickness which is usually used to accomodate future paint. – sharptooth Apr 11 '13 at 13:13
  • @sharptooth: I always wondered that. I love this place. – Evil Elf Apr 11 '13 at 17:26
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Most doors now are hollow core which takes away from the integrity of the door to recess the hinge. Even millimeters of wood make a difference over time, so I don’t recess and use a bigger screw. Recessing the hinges are for old school solid core doors for the purpose of barring the weight of the door. The door trim installed covers and gap and prevents weather from entering. If a thief wants in your house he’s getting in no matter the hinges. It also gives more room for the swelling and shrinking of the door because its wood and will do so. In my opinion it is completely unnecessary and weakens the design of the hollow core door. Now on solid core it’s absolutely necessary and needs to fit tightly to be beneficial.

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    Hollow doors have been around a long time. I would wager that a few millimeters from the edge of the door has a negligible effect on strength of said door. Plus, can't say I've ever seen an exterior hollow wooden door. – beswald Jan 15 at 15:38

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