Although the recesses for door hinges can be cut out with a sharp chisel, the process is easier and faster with a router. Also, unless you are very good with a chisel, it will probably end up looking neater and more professional when done with a router. Take the time to set everything up properly, don't cut corners, and you will have attractively mounted hinges and properly functioning doors.
Support the Door Properly
Don't attempt to rout out the notches for the hinges with the door propped up precariously against something. The entire process will go more smoothly and be safer if you support the door properly. The best way to do this is to make door supports out of scrap plywood. You can do this by connecting two pieces of plywood in a "T" shape with the shaft of the "T" pointing up. Cut a notch in this piece that is the same size as the width of the door. Make two of these, position them at each end of the door, and put the door into the notches. It is now properly supported, with the edge to be routed pointing up.
Use a Jig
It is possible to rout out hinge notches freehand with a router, but easier with a jig. Particularly if you are doing a large number of hinges, it is worth the time to make a jig. Once the jig is made, it takes only seconds to make each notch, and they will all be identical. This is important when mounting hinges. If the notch is too small, you will be tempted to force the hinge in, which will damage the edges of the notch and look bad. If the notch is too big, it will also look bad and the hinge won't be as strong.
Set the Bit Depth Properly
Set the router bit to the same depth as the thickness of the hinge. Using a piece of scrap wood, cut a practice notch and set the hinge into it. Chances are it won't be exactly right the first time, which is why you are using scrap wood. Adjust the depth accordingly, each time testing it on scrap wood, until you get the depth of cut perfect. When you have the depth right, tighten the router firmly so it doesn't move. As with making the jig, it is worth the time to get it right before you begin cutting into the door.
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