DIY home improvements are all the rage, with homeowners wanting to save money on labor. One of those activities is installing a new door. However, cutting a hinge is an essential part of the door installation process, and it is not something a lot of us have experience with. 

In this short read, we’re going to describe three different approaches to cutting door hinges. This ought to give you a perspective on the amount of skill needed to do the job and allow you to choose which approach seems practically doable to you.

The hammer and chisel approach

door hinges install

As the name suggests, you will need a hammer or a mallet and a chisel to cut hinges using this method. In addition, you will also need a pencil, a measuring tape, and a utility knife.

The process

  • Measure where your hinges need to be placed, keeping the back edge of the door clearly visible. Top hinges are placed usually 7 inches below the top of the door, middle hinges are placed at the exact center of the door, while bottom hinges are positioned 11 inches from the bottom of the door.
  • The next step is to mark the hinges. Place a hinge in such a way that three ends of it are pressing against the door and proceed to outline these edges with a pencil. Make the hinge outline as dark and thick as possible. You will also need to measure and mark the depth of the hinge mortise. The mortise is the fourth edge which bends backward. 
  • Once you have marked all the positions, remove the hinge and cut grooves into the marked edges using the utility knife. Remember to also cut the mortise depth while cutting grooves.
  • Place the chisel on the groove outline and start tapping it with the hammer. Keep at it gently until the depth of the groove and the hinge are the same. Repeat the process on all four sides to finish cutting the hinge and mortise. 

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The router approach

This method utilizes an electric router, a carpenter’s pencil, and a tape measure for installation

The process

  • The first two steps remain the same as with the hammer and chisel approach: measuring and marking the hinge positions on the door. Once again, remember that thick lines help make the cutting more accurate. 
  • All electric routers come with a depth setter that is screwable. This allows you to set how many millimeters you want the router to cut. The owner’s manual of the router ought to have instructions about how to set the depth. Follow the instructions and set the correct depth for your hinges.
  • Simply place the router along the outlines and turn it on. Plunge it in until it has penetrated the wood. Cut along the outline and when you’re finished, clear out any residue such as wood shavings.

The drilling approach

cutting hinges

This method has a slightly longer list of tools than the previous two methods. In addition to a carpenter’s pencil and a drill, you will also need a measuring tape, a chisel, sawhorses as well as a Forstner bit.

The process

  • As with the last two methods, steps 1 and 2 involve placing the door on the sawhorses, and measuring and marking positions for the hinges. 
  • Set the depth on your drill to match the depth of the hinges according to your measurements.
  • Start drilling to make the cut along the outline. Begin from the start and move towards the edges. The mortise cut should not take you more than a minute.
  • Always work at a slow and steady pace to ensure you do not drill deeper than required.
  • Once you’ve made the cut, clear the rough edges using the chisel. Then, clear out the wood shavings. 
DIY carpentry: How to cut door hinges? was last modified: September 2nd, 2022 by Narayan Shrouthy
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