How to shorten solid wood doors

Written by paul massey
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How to shorten solid wood doors
(Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Often it becomes necessary to trim the length of a solid wood interior door to improve the clearance of the door over carpeting. In the case of an exterior entrance, a door may need to be shortened to install weatherstripping to the bottom edge. With a bit of set-up, the procedure to insure an accurate cut to the door can be done using a circular saw and a straight edge, among other tools.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Hammer
  • Nail set
  • 2 sawhorses
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Framing square
  • Utility knife
  • Square edge
  • Builders level or piece of ½-inch plywood with a straight edge
  • 2 clamps
  • Masking tape
  • Circular saw
  • Sandpaper

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  1. 1

    Remove the door by removing the hinge pins with a hammer and nail punch to push pins up from the bottom of the hinge.

  2. 2

    Lay the door flat across two sawhorses and remove the existing drip cap and bottom weatherstrip.

  3. 3

    Measure the amount to be trimmed from the bottom of the door and mark this length 1 inch from both edges of door. Use a framing square or straight edge to mark a cut line across the door surface. Square this cut line down both door edges.

  4. 4

    Use a utility knife and a straight edge to score cut line. Be sure to score line a minimum of 1/8 inch deep to cut through door’s wood veneer. Score both edge cut lines in the same way.

  5. 5

    Measure the distance on the circular saw from the edge of the blade to the edge of the saw base on the same side. Position the builder's level at this same distance, minus 1/16-inch, above the door’s cut line. Use a clamp at both sides of the door to securely hold the level or straight-edged guide for the saw cut.

  6. 6

    Cover the space on the door surface between the straight edge and the cut line with masking tape. This will prevent the circular saw base from scratching the door finish during the cutting.

  7. 7

    Position the circular saw table against the guide and cut the door. Use a piece of medium grit sandpaper to lightly sand any roughness from the cut edges of the door.

  8. 8

    The trimmed door is now ready to be hung in the opening or reinstalled.

Tips and warnings

  • Offset the saw guide by 1/16-inch from the cut line toward the door bottom to prevent splintering or chips in the door’s wood veneer by the saw blade during the cutting.

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