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Adjusting the Hinges To hang the door, first split the top hinge. If the existing hinge-screw holes don’t line up with the new hinges, use the top hinge leaf to drill pilot holes for all three hinges, then attach the leaf to the top mortise on the jamb. Lift the door onto the top leaf and drive in the hinge pin, then swing the door open and hold it still with one foot while driving a hinge screw into the middle and bottom hinges (Figure 6).

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Figure 6. To hang the door, split the top hinge and attach one leaf to the door and the other to the jamb, then lift the door onto the hinge and drive the pin. To ensure proper alignment, first attach the middle and lower hinges to the door, then screw them to the jamb.

Attaching the lower hinges to the jamb while they’re on the door ensures that they’ll be aligned perfectly. If a door is scribed carefully and beveled correctly, it will usually fit the first time up. If it doesn’t fit just right, small hinge adjustments will probably correct the problem. But I always adjust the hinges before installing the lock strike, because the position of the strike might change. The secret to adjusting hinges is to imagine the door and the jamb as a rectangle within a rectangle (). If the rectangles aren’t parallel, one of them — the door — has to be rotated.

Spreading hinges.

When the head gap is too tight or the top of the door rubs the head jamb, the gap at the top of the lock stile is usually too big. The quickest remedy is to bend and spread the top hinge, which rotates the door down. To bend and spread the top hinge, open the door enough to slip the head of a nail set between the leaves of the hinge, then pull the door closed and gently squeeze the hinge (Figure 8).

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Figure 8. To rotate the door away from the hinge jamb, spread the top or bottom hinge by gently closing the door while holding a nail set between the leaves of the hinge (top). To pull the door toward the hinge jamb, bend the knuckles of the hinge one at a time toward the jamb using a crescent wrench (bottom).

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Don’t pull too hard or the hinge screws might rip out. Bend the hinge a little at a time and check the fit each time. If the head gap is too big at the lock side, bend and spread the bottom hinge to rotate the door upward.