How to trim a hollow door

Written by robert sylvus
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How to trim a hollow door
Hollow core doors can be trimed to fit any opening. (mirror door image by mark humphreys from

One problem homeowners who have installed new carpet or tile often encounter is that the bedroom and closet doors no longer fit. The best solution is to trim the bottom off the door, which is usually hollow. Hollow doors have a solid wood frame covered with thin sheets of wood veneer on the surface. To help keep the door solid, the empty space is often filled with a cardboard honeycomb. The honeycomb feature also helps soundproof the door. This type of construction makes the door lighter than the doors used for a home's exterior.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Straight edge
  • C-clamps
  • Razor knife
  • Masking tape
  • Circular saw
  • Wood glue
  • Wood putty
  • Sandpaper
  • Sanding block
  • Paint or clear coat
  • Paintbrush

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  1. 1

    Measure the height of the door frame opening with a tape measure. Subtract 3/4 inch from the height to get the proper size.

  2. 2

    Transfer the measurement to the door. Lay out the cut so that it is at the bottom of the door. Use a pencil and a straight edge to draw a line at the measurement marks.

  3. 3

    Use two C-clamps to hold the straight edge above the line at the bottom of the door. The straight edge must be 1/16 inch above the line.

  4. 4

    Score the veneer along the straight edge with a razor knife. Use several light strokes. Pressing hard will cause the veneer to chip and splinter.

  5. 5

    Measure the distance from the edge of the circular saw blade to the side of its guide. Move the C-clamps and straight edge this distance from the pencil line. The goal will be to use the straight edge to hold the saw so that the blade will be even with the pencil mark but not touch the scored line.

  6. 6

    Cover the veneer where the saw will slide with masking tape. The masking tape will help prevent scratches to the finished surface.

  7. 7

    Cut the door with steady, firm pressure, using a circular saw. Forcing the blade will cause the veneer to chip. If the veneer starts to chip, use less pressure.

  8. 8

    Replace the bottom part of the frame if the door was cut more than 1 inch. Use a razor knife to pry the veneer off of the cut piece. Glue the bottom part of the frame in place with wood glue. Secure the frame in place with C-clamps until the glue dries.

  9. 9

    Smooth the bottom of the door, using sandpaper and a sanding block. Remove small chips on the veneer with the sanding block. Large chips must be filled with a wood putty before sanding.

  10. 10

    Seal the bottom of the door with paint or a clear coat, using a paintbrush. The veneer must be refinished if large chips had to be repaired. Small chips in the veneer can be hidden while sealing the bottom.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a circular saw blade designed for fine cuts.
  • When installing the bottom frame, clean any glue that seeps out before it dries.

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