How to Use a Router for Putting Hinges on Doors

Written by emily beach
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How to Use a Router for Putting Hinges on Doors
Typical door with hinges. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Hinges are used to connect a door to a frame. They must be installed with great precision, as even a small error can impede the operation of the door. One leaf of the hinges must be recessed into the edge of the door, while the other is recessed into the frame. Historically, builders have used a hammer and chisel to recess hinges. Today, a wood router can be used to complete this task much more precisely. This can improve both the operation and appearance of the door and frame. Templates are used to help guide the router during this process, reducing the risk of error.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Router
  • Guide bushing
  • Hinge template
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Hinges
  • Door

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  1. 1

    Measure the location of the existing hinges on the frame, if applicable. If you are matching a door to an existing frame, each hinge should be located 3 mm (1/8 inch) higher on the edge of the door to allow for clearance. For new doors and frames, locate the bottom hinge 23.75 cm (9 1/2 inches) from the bottom of the door. The top hinge should be 12.5 cm (5 inches) from the top of the door, and the centre hinge should be centred along the door's length.

  2. 2

    Add a guide bushing to your router to protect the bit as you work. Without this guide, the bit may hit the hinge template, which can ruin the bit.

  3. 3

    Purchase an appropriate hinge routing template. These devices are relatively cheap and can be found at most home improvement and hardware stores. The hinge template should match the size of the hinges you are using. A 11.3 cm (4 1/2 inch) hinge is standard for most doors.

  4. 4

    Nail the hinge template to the door at the locations you determine in step 1. The template should create a 6 mm (1/4 inch) backset for each hinge, which means that the hinge will be installed 6 mm (1/4 inch) from the edge of the door. Align the template to accommodate this back set.

  5. 5

    Place your hinges on top of the template, then set the router on top. From this position, adjust the setting of the router so that the tip of the bit just touches the edge of the door.

  6. 6

    Take the hinges off of the template and set them aside. Turn on your router and move it around the entire template area to cut away the wood for the hinges. Repeat steps 4 to 6 to cut all three hinges into the door.

  7. 7

    Remove the router and use a chisel to square out the corners of the hinge recesses. Once the edges are square to match your hinges, you can screw each hinge in place. If no hinge recesses are installed on the frame, repeat this entire process to install hinges onto the frame. Remember that the hinges will be installed 3 mm (1/8 inch) lower on the frame than on the door.

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