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Q.I typically use prehung doors, but I'm building a project where I'll need to hang a dozen or more 1 3/8-inch 6-8 interior door slabs in 3/4-inch-thick custom poplar jambs. I also have to bore and install the cylinder passage sets. Could you advise me how to do this cost effectively, and what tools to use? I'd like to buy the proper jigs and bits but may not use them again, so I can't break the bank.

A.Gary Katz responds: I feel your pain. Finish carpentry, especially door hanging, is a tool-heavy trade. Here's the best advice I can give to any part-time door hanger.

First, put together a good door bench or a door stand. You can cobble a stand together from some scraps of 2-by and 1-by, or you can make a full-blown bench. I'd suggest making the bench. A good door bench has a lot of uses. The legs fold up, so the bench is easy to store and transport, and once you start hanging doors, you'll never stop — there's good money in it. (See "Hanging a New Door in an Old Jamb," 8/99, for more on building a door bench.)


But it's the tools that cost real money. I'm figuring you already own a good-sized drill, a cordless driver, and a circular saw, so a plane might be your most expensive purchase. As a full-time door hanger, I prefer a Porter-Cable 126, which is sold in a kit, #9118, for about $400. For just a few doors, you can also use a regular plane, like the Bosch 1594K, one of the few multi-use planes equipped with an adjustable bevel guide ($155 on the web).

You might be able to avoid buying a plane altogether if you can purchase prebeveled doors. We use them all the time.

You'll also need a router. For door hanging, I prefer Porter-Cable's 7/8-hp model #100, which, unfortunately, may have been discontinued. For a multipurpose router, I'd suggest a Bosch 1617evs ($170 on the web), which has a micro-adjustment knob as well as a quick-change template guide system. You'll need that template guide because you'll have to use templates for mortising hinges and locks.

I buy all hinge templates and most lock templates from Templaco ( because they cost less to buy than to make, and Templaco's templates are always dead-on accurate. For those 1 3/8-inch doors on your job, you'll only need a single-pocket template (Photo D) for 3 1/2-inch hinges ($20). If you're hanging new doors in new jambs, you can get a full-length template that lays out all three hinges.


For boring doors, you could buy a good-quality hole saw for the cylinder and a spade bit for the edge bore, and live dangerously! But if you can, when it comes to boring doors, break the bank and go all the way. Templaco sells a couple of great kits (BJ-115 or BJ120, about $370) that include all the latch and strike templates you'll ever need, plus the boring jig (Photo E) and bits. If you bore more than a dozen doors a year, think about upgrading to their carbide spur 2 1/8-inch bit ($127). You'll never regret it. (See "Installing a Cylindrical Latchset," 12/00.)

These are only the basics. When you're ready for flush bolts, mortise locks, and auto-bottoms, contact me at JLC Online's Finish Carpentry Forum and I'll tell you more.

Gary Katz is a frequent contributor to JLC, author of Finish Carpentry, and moderator of JLC Online's Finish Carpentry Forum.