How do you make professional looking hinge cuts in a new door slab?

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by Verdeboy, Jun 21, 2006.

  1. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    I've always used hammer and chisel to make hinge and striker plate cutouts. I've recently purchased a Dremel and a Rotozip and I want to be able to make professional looking cutouts. Problem is, I've never used a router before. What's the best way to cut out the edges and then clean out the material in a way that looks professional?

    Thanks,
    Eric
  2. prashster

    prashster New Member

    Messages:
    941
    You have to get some type of mortising bit for your rototool. That bit should have a bushing that can follow a guide.

    Then you can either buy a hinge mortising guide or you can make one out of plywood.

    IMHO it's more easily done with a router since it'll be more stable in this capacity.
  3. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    I dont know if dremel makes a mortising bit. It's usuall done with a router. In either case , you need a jig that attaches to the door to guide the bit. You cannot do it freehand.

    Jigs can be anything from a little plastic gizmo to do one at a time.....to a professional jig that sets all three hinges at the right point, both on the door and on the jam, for perfect assembly.
  4. prashster

    prashster New Member

    Messages:
    941
    Unless you are doing this professionally and often (read, more than one a week) then don't invest in the 3-hinge-at-a-time guide. It'd be cheaper to buy a whole new prehung door and jamb!

    I bought a "butt marking" template. You line it up where the hinge should be, strike it a couple times and then manually chip out the center. It sucked. I found it easier to manually trace the hinge and chisel it out the old fashioned way.

    If yr only doing a few hinges, then your best bet is investing in a great wood chisel. A sharp chisel can make very clean cuts with minimal effort.

    If yr hinges have rounded corners, don't get hung up on following the curve exactly. Cut it square. Trust me, nobody but you will notice it.
  5. chassis

    chassis Engineer

    Messages:
    339
    Location:
    SE Pennsylvania
    Another comment on following lines precisely. If it bothers you that (only) you can see the square corners in a rounded-hinge mortise, a little wood putty and paint will take care of that. Perfect, professional looking work.
  6. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

    Messages:
    1,328
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    I affix the hinge to the door where it is supposed to go with a screw or two and then trace it with a utility/exacto knife. Predrill your holes. Affixing it keeps it nice and tight. A few light scores is all you need. Just need to establish that clean edge. Best to make few light scores than one heavy one and sliping....opps. Then you can detach your hinge. I usually use a straight edge to mark the depth on the side of the door in a similiar manner (just w/o affixingit). Remove hinge and then you're ready to chisel it out.

    I like to use a bench mounted belt sander to sharpen my chisels, but that's just me. You can get a flat razor sharp edge on them.

    Jason
  7. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    Thanks for all your suggestions. The Dremel spokesperson seems to think that you can make great mortises with their router attachment and one of their straight router bits without using a template--just following a traced line.

    "For your project we suggest the 335-router attachment and the 650 straight router bit. With a router attachment and 650 bit, you will be able to route out the area necessary for the hinge/latch to rest properly. The router will help to maintain depth for consistency. Use the hinge/plate as a template to draw the pattern on the wood. The router works with Dremel models 275, 285, 395, 398 and 400".

    But I'll keep my wood chisels sharp just in case.

    Eric
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