Squeezing hinges. In
the reverse situation, the lock stile rubs on the jamb. This
means the hinge gap is too big, so one or more hinges may have
to be squeezed shut a little, which will pull the door back
towards the hinge jamb.
Use a crescent wrench to bend and squeeze the top hinge.
Drive the hinge pin up until only the top knuckle is engaged,
then tighten the wrench on the top knuckle of the door leaf
— not the leaf attached to the jamb. Bend the top knuckle
on the door away from the jamb—toward the lock stile of
the door, then carefully bend the other knuckles on the door
leaf the same amount. This adjustment will pull the door
tighter to the jamb, increasing the gap on the lock side.
Bright brass hinges dent and mar easily. To adjust one, remove
it from the jamb and either shim behind the hinge slightly or
chisel the mortise a little deeper.
To scribe a door, the door has to be held tightly against
the jamb so it can’t move at all, not even a little.
It’s virtually impossible to do this alone, so I use a
homemade door hook made from aluminum channels connected by a
length of rubber innertube.
To hold the door securely in place for scribing, the
author uses a door hook that catches the top of the door and
clamps snugly around the head jamb. The hook, which is
fabricated out of aluminum channel and a length of bicycle
innertube, can be adjusted for jambs of varying
One aluminum channel slips over the top of the door, the
other catches on the head jamb, and the rubber stretches across
the head to hold them together. One door hook at the top of the
door and two shims at the bottom will hold any door snugly
against the jambs.
The aluminum hook that goes over the door should be 1-3/4
inches wide so that it will fit both standard door thicknesses.
(For thicker doors, I use a door hook who’s paid by the
hour and helps me carry the door, too.) To help the jamb hook
grab securely, I use a grinder to serrate the edge, then file
and sand the cuts to prevent scratches in the jamb. The piece
of bicycle innertube should be about 8 inches long.
With the rubber attached, the distance between the two hooks
shouldn’t be more than 3-1/2 inches for standard interior
jambs less than 5 inches wide. The rubber is threaded through a
slot in the jamb hook, but at the door hook, I use
3/16x1/2-inch hex-head bolts and a strip of aluminum to clamp
the rubber. The excess innertubing sticks out the top of the
door hook. When I work in a house with 6-inch jambs, I loosen
the hex-head bolts and slip the excess rubber out a little,
which allows for wider jambs.
Finally, I mount a knob to the jamb hook. The knob makes it
easier to stretch the innertubing across the jamb.
Many manufacturers make a simple clamping device to hold a
door securely while you work on it. But I hang a lot of doors
and I’m too old to bend over all day picking up tools, so
I use a door bench that not only holds a door either flat or on
edge, but carries all my tools as well. My 22x68-inch bench is
narrow enough to fit through a 28-inch-wide doorway, but long
enough to support an 8-foot door. It’s designed so that I
can step inside it to carry it around.
I’m 5 feet 7 inches tall, so my bench is 32 inches
high, a comfortable working height that is still short enough
so when I step inside the box to carry it the legs clear the
ground easily. Also, at this height I can climb stairs while
walking inside the bench without having to lift it up over my
The bench has adjustable rungs to hold doors of varying
widths on edge.
This custom-made door bench can hold up to an
8-foot-tall door either flat or on edge. The bench is small
enough to be carried from room to room by standing inside
The best layout I’ve found is to have four rungs
spaced 5 inches apart. The 2x4 legs can be drilled to accept
1-1/4- inch closet pole, but doors slip off round rungs too
easily. To avoid having to put stops on the ends of round
rungs, I made rectangular rungs that fit into slots in the
laminated hardwood legs of my bench. Since I store my bench in
the back of my van, I attached the legs with butt hinges that
fold flat. When I carry the bench up to my van, I set the front
end in the back of the van, then step out of the box. When I
push the bench into the van, the front legs fold up almost
automatically, and I fold the back ones up as the bench slides
into the van. I carry a 1x2 spreader to secure the legs open
while I’m working at the bench.
The center of my bench has a 20-inch clear opening that I
can step into to carry the bench around, and the remaining
space is filled by two 22-inch tool shelves with dividers to
hold the tools securely. The sides of the bench are deep enough
to hold the tallest tool while still allowing a door to lie
flat across the top of the box and not rock on a tool
The door bench also has an adjustable steel hook, which
clamps doors in place on edge.
An adjustable steel hook mortised into the
end holds doors snugly on edge.
The hook is mortised flush with the face of the box, which
acts like a track, and is adjustable by means of a single wing
Gary Katz, a finish carpenter and writer in Reseda,
Calif., is author of
The Doorhanger’s Handbook