Installing door strike plate

Is there a foolproof way to do this, other than meticulous measuring? I never seem to get it perfect first time, and then once the screw holes are made it's difficult to reposition. I'm sure someone on here has a cheat.
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Yes, that's what I mean. I'll have to think how lipstick might work. Seems a little imprecise? 1/16" out is a big deal.
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A cheat? I never cheat. I just come up with an efficient way that's so easy it looks like cheating. I do not measure with numerical dimensions. I layout precisely without looking at any numbers at all.
I use one of these: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item 0390787828 I keep it in my pocket at all times. Very handy.
To use it to set the strike plate position, close the door and push it against the stop, insert the square end of the rule into the gap between the door and jamb, and have the rule sit squarely on the latch (or bolt) face. Push back a bit with the rule to take the play out of the latch, and slide the T-clip down the rule until it makes contact squarely with the door on one wing and the jamb on the other wing (this averages the depth setting). With the door still closed, slide the opposite end of the rule down the gap from above the latch until it contacts the top of the latch and with the rule held level make a pencil mark to indicate the top of the latch. Repeat coming up from the bottom, and mark the bottom of the latch.
All of the above can be done while standing and once you get the hang of it, you almost don't have to look at the door at all.
There should be a matchbook cover thickness clearance between the door in the latched closed position and the door stops to allow for seasonal dimension changes in the door. I hang my own doors, and I set the stops after all hardware is attached as it's easier to maintain that perfect matchbook cover gap after the door position is all set. With a prehung you will have to make an allowance for the matchbook gap, so either tape a matchbook cover to the stop face contacting the door at latch height before closing the door and taking the measurement above, or slide the T-clip a matchbook thickness to decrease the depth setting on the rule before proceeding to the next step.
Open the door and place the T-clip bar against the jamb face at latch height, and use a utility knife to strike a mark at the end of the rule. That mark is where the latch face has to end up. Flip the rule and extend the latch top and bottom marks back toward the jamb.
The strike plate will be temporarily installed in a reversed position so the outline of the strike can be scribed on the jamb for mortising, but first the screw holes must be located. The best tool to do this is a cordless drill with a self-centering hinge drill bit, that has the Philips bit underneath. Google Vix bit and you'll find the self- centering bit without the screwdriver bit hidden underneath the self- centering sleeve. It's not a big deal, but I prefer to not have to have two separate bits and have to use the quick change chuck.
Flip the strike plate so it is reversed end to end and the curved edge that strikes the latch first is curling toward the hinge side. Slide the strike plate up or down until the latch top and bottom marks are visible and centered in the strike plate opening. Slide the strike plate in and out until the knife mark lines up perfectly with the side of the strike that contacts the latch face (the strike frequently has a bent over metal tongue where it contacts the latch to minimize strike wear). Aligning the strike is the most important part, so get it right, push the strike into place making sure that you won't be obscuring the strike screw holes, and use the self centering bit to drill the two screw holes. The strike position is no longer critical as it's been marked. Remove the self-centering sleeve, and install the strike with the two screws in the reversed position.
Use a pencil to trace around the latch hole in the strike plate, and a knife to carefully scribe around the outer perimeter of the strike - be careful that the knife doesn't slip. Use the knife to cut a bit deeper around the perimeter. Remove the screws and strike plate. Drill out the center of the penciled interior hole with the correctly sized bit, or drill four holes in the corner, while making sure that the mortise in the jamb is larger than the strike hole and that the strike tongue has clearance.
Use a sharp chisel to cut out the waste and clean up the edges. Chop with the chisel face held horizontally and the bevel facing the center of the strike mortise before chopping with the chisel face vertically. Held vertically without relieving horizontal cuts is much more likely to split the wood.
Next chisel the perimeter layout line a little bit deeper. If it's hardwood and/or stained and you really want it perfect, use a knife to cut a relieving bevel to the inside of thee strike perimeter line. That will remove a shallow wedge of wood around the perimeter that will guide the chisel without allowing the chisel bevel to push the chisel over the line. Hope that makes sense - if not ask for clarification. I can imagine how you must feel - are your eyes glazed over yet? ;) Don't worry, we're almost done, and it will probably take less time to do the work than to read this.
Chisel that perimeter line to the depth of the strike plate thickness, then make some horizontal chops about 3/16" apart over the entire interior of the strike mortise. Chisel out the waste and use the chisel to pare the bottom of the mortise smooth. Creep up on the depth, but don't freak out if you go a little deep. As long as the overall mortise recess is the correct depth the strike will sit flush.
Finally, use a chisel or your knife to carve a little bevel around the perimeter of the screw holes to allow the extra metal around the screw holes in the strike to be fully recessed so they won't hold the strike plate proud of the jamb surface. The goal is perfectly flush, and it's okay to sneak up on it. Test fit repeatedly when you get near the end.
As an alternative to the above, you could use any of several power tools to remove the bulk of the waste from the mortise, such as a router, Dremel or other rotary tool, or an oscillating multi-function tool. I use router hand planes as I avoid unnecessary noise when possible and your skills develop only when you exercise them. And it's fun.
Evan's suggestion of using a jig is fine, if you have the router and want to make or buy a jig that fits your strike plate. There are so many strike plates, and most of my hardware is one off decorator stuff,that it doesn't make sense for me. Plus I've developed my hand skills. ;)
This thing is too damn long to proofread, so let me know where I've messed up. I need ot go get a snack as you've run my blood sugar down low typing!
R
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Brilliant. Thanks for taking the time. I am looking forward to put this technique into practice. Cheers Cub
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You're welcome. I hope it was clear enough. I could show someone how to do it in less time than it took to write it. I was starting to put myself to sleep by the end.
Have fun with it.
R
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PS - I just bought the tool from your link.
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Nope, but I'm the guy that originally saved people a penny or nickel on every purchase. "Now, only $9.99!" ;)

The Vix bit is/was the original and possibly patented. They are all dedicated for drilling the centered pilot hole. Most people actually put something in that centered hole after drilling it, so they came up with two-part bits - self-centering pilot as first stage, slip off the centering sleeve and there's a drill bit underneath as I mention in my windbag post. Makita makes a 'flip' style centering/driving bit. (Amazon.com product link shortened)
R
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And then turning their back on stores that sell marijuana, and a system that allows anyone with a hangnail to get a prescription. I guess like the Romans, you have to keep the peasants placated and quiet. Always bet on the lions. At the last game, it was Lions 23, Christians 0.
Steve
Heart surgery pending? Read up and prepare. Download the book $10 http://cabgbypasssurgery.com
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On 2/4/2011 6:26 PM, cubby wrote:

if you open and close the door about 50 times, the latch will leave a mark. It'll be right where you want the striker.
--
Steve Barker
remove the "not" from my address to email
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On 2/4/2011 7:26 PM, cubby wrote:

Prehung doors? Slab and jamb are predrilled and premortised, and it always seems to line up perfectly, if door is installed square and shimmed correctly.
Put the knob and striker in first, and rub a carpenter's pencil on the end of the striker. It'll mark the jamb for you. Centerline of the mark is the centerline of your mortise. You can even hold the striker plate backwards against the jamb, and center the mark through the hole, and score around it with a sharp utility knife. Horizontal part is a little harder, but if door is a little 'loose', you can fine-tune by bending the tab on plate that goes into the pocket.
It ain't as hard as it sounds.
--
aem sends...

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Yes, I'm talking prehung. They usually come with the rough area of the plate routed out, but in my (limited) experience you can never just use the inside edge of the routed opening. It's the existence of the opening that makes the lipstick and pencil methods ineffective.
I find this particularly hard with external doors, because with the weatherstripping you need to have just the right level of compression of the door to get the right seal. That means you have to start with the door pushed closed to the right point...so back to the meticulous measuring. I agree that the metal tab on the plate can give you a little wiggle room, but with the exterior door I just did the latch mechanism didn't seem to like it if that tab was not close to 90 deg.
Oh well, I will stick with the meticulous measuring I guess.
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On Feb 5, 9:07am, "Stormin Mormon"

Bull... You use a jig and a couple of specialized centering punches a scratch awl and hole saws like any other locksmith... If the lock is binding slightly on the strike plate after installation using an end mill in your cordless drill to adjust that 1/16" of an inch does the trick...
~~ Evan
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