Self-centering bit size for exterior door hinge

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Replacing a 70 yo 1-1/4" exterior door (two 3-1/2" hinges) with a 1-3/4" door (three 4" Everbilt hinges). First time doing something like this but mortising door went well. However, for the hinge screws, the retracting barrel on largest self-centering bit in the set I bought (11/64 - same diameter as screw threads) slips through the hinge holes instead of centering. The barrel has only a little play once in the hole - my electronic caliper says barrel 1/64 smaller or same size, readings vary. Surely that is close enough for this purpose.

Since the 11/64 bit is the same size as the screw threads, I will use it only to mark the location, then drill the pilot hole with a smaller bit. For the next time, I thought about getting better bits than the cheap Harbor Freight ones I have* but everything I see online looks to be about the same thing regardless of price. What should I be looking for to find a self-centering bit that will actually center on this size hinge yet drill a hole that is right for the screw? Thanks.

Tom

*This is not only problem with these bits. Two of the three have a drill bit that extends beyond the end of the retracting barrel, so they would not center even if the barrel was the right size. I will try to replace them with shorter bits.
 

bud16415

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Welcome to the forum and posting.



I have been doing this stuff for over 50 years and I still don’t have a set of those fancy bits. I just do it like you did and use the right size for the hole to mark it and then switch bits for the screw pilot. If you were doing lots of them it would be great to have the tool but for once or twice a year I’m ok with taking a little longer. I do have one of those jiggy that lets you drill and c-sink for a screw and then a quick change for the driver bit. That’s handy and I do use it for a lot of screws but for just a couple I switch bits rather than get it out. Transfer punches are very handy and I do have a set of those but they mostly get used for metal work.

How did you handle the stop and patching the old hinge locations. I took an old door out the front door and it was 6” taller and I switched the hinges from left swing to right swing. That was a bit of a project.
 
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Thanks for the reply. I have used your method for things like cabinets but sometimes had trouble with the bit walking off center or following the grain (in soft wood where dark rings much harder than thicker light riings).

I removed the old door only temporarily to mark hinge locations on the new door and install the new hinges on it. Tomorrow I will removed the old door & hinges and enlarge the existing hinge mortises on the jamb. I have also removed the stops (door to unattached garage so not concerned about temporary condition) and will install new stops when the new door is in place.

Something interesting has happened to my mortises. I cut them this morning (using router). With a little fine tuning the fit was close to perfect. This afternoon when I started to install the hinges I found the mortises slightly short and slightly shallow. The morning was cool and work area in shade, while this afternoot it is very warm and the door in direct sun; I can't think of anything else that might have had an effect. Hoping to cool of evening will remedy the problem.

Tom
 

bud16415

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Yep temp and humidity will move wood around a lot. My house has chestnut floors and was built around 1880. Every winter the cracks open up and every summer they are as tight as a bowling alley.
 

Snoonyb

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I did the old tried and true square, scribe, and used a center punch, then pilot. Then when I moved into DOD & commercial, I changed over to VIC's Bits, and still use them.
 
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SnoonyB, Will the Vic's 9/64 bit actually center on the screw hole of a residential door hinge, or will the retracting barrel slip through the hole like mine does? Thanks.
 

Snoonyb

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I've never had that experience, so I guess I've guessed right.
 
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