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Mortising Hinges When laying out the hinges, look for the "X" first to avoid hinging the door upside down. Pull a tape measure down the edge of the door from the top to the bottom, then transfer the measurements taken earlier onto the door. Use a sharp pencil and a square to extend the marks straight across the edge of the door. I also draw a light "X" beneath each measurement, so I won’t get confused and set my template on the wrong side of the mark. I hang a lot of doors, so I use a router and templates to cut the mortises (Figure 5).

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Figure 5. To mount hinges quickly and accurately, the author attaches a template over the hinge marks (top), then uses a router to cut the mortise (middle). Predrilled holes and a Vix bit speed the driving of the hinge screws (bottom).

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The templates are made by Templaco Tool Co. (295 Trade St., San Marcos, CA 92069; 800/578-9677), and include almost every hinge size and other common types of hardware, including flush bolts and mortise locks. First, set the router to the right depth by holding the hinge flat against the bottom of the template and extending the bit until it’s flush with the face of the hinge. Then attach the template to the door, positioned above the first layout line by 1/16 inch, which is the clearance of the router bit guide. Rout just a small nick of the first hinge mortise, then check the depth setting before going further. To avoid tearing out the face of the door, first run the router into the door along each shoulder of the template, then make a pass along the face of the mortise, and finish by cleaning out the center. For a smoother cut, always move the router against the rotation of the bit. For square-cornered hinges, I use a corner chisel to square up each mortise. I always drill pilot holes for hinge screws. Four good-sized screws driven into a 1x3-inch space act like a wedge and, without pilot holes, will split the door and ruin the job. I use a self-centering Vix bit, which is available at most catalogue suppliers, including Woodworkers Supply (800/645-9292) and Tool Crib (800/635-5140), to speed up the drilling.