Inset Hinge Installation

Written by kevin mcdermott
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When you're installing a non-pre-hung door, and you have to set the hinges yourself, you can't just affix them to the surface of the door and the jamb. The metal of the hinge plates is thick enough that it will hold the door out from the jamb and create a space there when it's closed, unless you inset the plates into the wood of both of the door and the jamb. This puts the surface of the plates even with the surface of the wood so the door can close unimpeded.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Hinges with screws
  • Utility knife
  • Hammer
  • Wood chisel
  • Screw gun

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  1. 1

    Stand the door on its front edge. Set the first hinge on the back edge, which will be facing up at you. Position the hinge 8 inches from the end of the door, with one of the two hinge plates on the edge and the connected plate hanging over the side that will be facing into the room. The hinge pin should be just off the edge.

  2. 2

    Trace a pencil around the plate on the edge of the door. Remove the hinge. Use your utility knife to cut around the line you traced, getting it about 1/8-inch deep all around. Use your hammer and chisel to peel off the wood within the cut-out area, so the whole area is 1/8-inch below the surface.

  3. 3

    Lay the hinge back in place. The metal surface of the hinge should be at the same level as the wood surface of the door. Drive your hinge screws in the plate, through the provided holes, securing it.

  4. 4

    Repeat the process for the second hinge at the other end of the door edge. If you're going to place three hinges, repeat the process to install it in the middle of the span.

  5. 5

    Stand the door in the door opening, positioning it where it needs to go to open and close properly. As an assistant holds the door in the open position, set the loose halves of the hinge plates against the door jamb and trace around them with a pencil.

  6. 6

    Remove the door. Chisel out the hinge areas on the jamb as you did on the edge of the door. Return the door to the opening and sink hinge screws through the loose plates into the jamb to secure the door.

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