Temperature and humidity can harm wood, causing it to warp, swell or shrink. When a door is exposed to excessively dry or sunny conditions, and the wood shrinks, it can cause problems with the locking mechanisms. In severe cases, it may produce noticeable gaps between the jamb and the edge of the door. There is no easy way to make the door wider, but it isn't difficult to adjust the width of the jamb. All it takes is a little care, and about two hours.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Phillips screwdriver
- Claw hammer
- Pry bar
- Combination square
- Circular saw
- 2-inch finish nails
- Spirit level
- Cedar shims
- Hand saw
- Nail punch
- Wood filler
Close the door and mark the edge on the overhead jamb with a pencil. Knock the hinge pins loose by inserting a Phillips screwdriver into the bottoms of the pin holes, then taking out the pins and removing the door.
Pry the trim from both sides of the door frame with a pry bar. To preserve the trim, start at the bottom--or one end--and pry each piece out until the head of the nearest nail pops loose. Tap the trim back, leaving the nail head exposed, then pry out the nail with a claw hammer. Work your way up the trim, removing nails in this way, until the trim is free.
Pry out the side jambs with a pry bar, starting at the bottom and working towards the top. Pull out successive nails as you did with the trim. When the side jambs are removed, pry out the top jamb in the same way.
Draw a line through the mark you made in Step 1, using a combination square. The line should be perpendicular to the board. Measure the distance between the line and the edge of the rebate--or groove--on the end of the board, then cut a length equal to this distance from the end, with a circular saw. Set the depth of the saw blade to the depth of the rebate, then adjust the width of the rebate with the saw until the edge comes to the mark.
Reinstall the top jamb flush against the hinge-side of the frame. Use the shims that were already there to create the same spacing between it and the top of the door frame. Drive new 2-inch nails, or reuse the nails you removed when you took out the jamb. When you're done, reinstall the side jamb on the hinge side of the door in the same way. Use a spirit level to ensure both jambs are straight before you nail them.
Set the other side jamb in place so the top edge is flush with the edge of the rebate in the top jamb. Plumb the jamb with a level, then insert cedar shims behind to support it, tap the shims tight, and nail the jamb in place. Cut off the ends of the shims with a hand saw.
Replace the trim around the door frame, using new 2-inch nails, or the ones you removed. Drive the nails into the existing holes.
Sink the heads of the nails with a nail punch, then fill the holes with wood filler. When the filler dries, sand it lightly, then repaint the jamb, using a paintbrush.
Hang the door back on the hinges and tap in the hinge pins with a hammer.
Tips and warnings
- It's rare for a gap to develop that's wider then 1/2 inch, but if this is the case, adjust both sides of the jamb to avoid having too wide a gap between one jamb and the door frame.
- Wear goggles when using a circular saw, and keep your hands out of the blade's path at all times.
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