Installing an interior door PLUMB on a frame that lacks one
There's a frame/jamb in my apt that once had a door w hinges on the left side. For various reasons the door was removed years ago and the chiseled-out sections on the jamb filled in w wood filler; In any event I'm installing the door on the _other_ side of the jamb, where hinges were not installed.
I have a butt guage and proper hinges. I'll be able to accurately line up the vertical location of the 2 hinges on the jamb that I will need to chisel out.
But I am concerned that putting the hinges in just the right place for the door to hang plumb will be more difficult, since the door is quite heavy, making it hard to use the door itself to precisely place the hinge location on the jamb as I test for plumb.
One idea i had was to make a dummy door out of 1x : essentially an L with the bottom of the L as the dummy bottom of the door, so i can see its clearance along the floor as it opens.
I would hire a carpenter but i fear it will cost me $500 or more!
You can tell a lot about a door frame by checking it in all directions
with a long level. If you don't have a long level, you can use a short level
held against a straight board cut to 6'7" or so. Put it against the inside
of the opening and also on the edge of the opening facing out into the room.
Check the floor for level in the direction of the swing that you are considering.
By doing that you should be able to visualize how a door will swing on the
If you want to try a practice door you should be able to buy a hollow core
hardboard door for $25 or so. If you have a second hand building supply store
you can probably find it cheaper yet.
I would use three hinges if your new door is quite heavy.
Best of luck with the project!
Many times I'll cut the top hinge mortise after measuring the top distance on the door and adding an 1/8" for clearance on the door top. Then I'll hang the door using the top hinge and mark the location for the middle and bottom hinges. Take the door off, cut your mortises as marked, and reinstall the door. It may become necessary to add cardboard shims at the top or bottom to get the door to align with the opposite jamb.
As for getting the door plumb, you should adjust and shim the frame FIRST and then install the door. Many times an appropriately placed screw will do all the adjusting you need. If you don't get the frame plumb first (in both directions) you will be in an uphill battle.
Really appreciate the help mabloodhound! Quite useful.
Excellent advice above
If you want a "dummy door" you may want to put a sheet of doorskin up and use it as a jig, never done this however I have heard of it being done.
another way would be to get a helper and place the door in the opening, marking where it may need to be cut/planed, as well where hinges would go.
Usually when hanging doors in an existing frame, I will check the doorframe for level/plumb and measure then cut out hinges, hang the door, pack out a hinge if necessary, or cut/plane door if necessary. You can always adjust the frame if it is out of whack considerably (as mentioned above), rather than trying to make your door fit into it. Just keep in mind you will have to remove and re-fasten the trim to move the jamb.
Another option would be to go pre-hung, nice and fast to install, especially if your frame has old mortises cut into the strike jamb.
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