Changing the hardware on five BR, bath and closet doors in part because
I hate the color. The new strike plates are a different size than the
old, which look like someone used a router or something and did a
really nice job of cutting just the right groove in the door fram. I've
never used a router, but my first attempte to use a chisel came out a
little sloppy. How else can I cut out a notch for the strike plate??
Most pre-hung doors today have routed recesses for hardware. Best bet is to
learn how to chisel properly. It takes a little practice. First you mark
out the location and score it with a utility knife. That makes for a clean
outline. Next, is to sharpen the chisels. Brand new out of the box chisels
need sharpening to do their best work. Lap the back flat, then work on the
bevel. Using a bevel guide works best. You need a set of four grits of
stones or you can use the "scary sharp" method of sand paper on a sheet of
Once sharp, you can just go in by hand and scrape away the material. At best
you need a very light tap with a mallet.
I use a router and a router template. The results look really good,
much better than the hand made mortises I run into that require things
like shims to get hinges to line up "close enough". The router
template comes with a bit and costs about $20 at HD or Lowes. The
router itself is a Harbor Freight trim router:
That sells for $40. Then you need to practice on some scrap wood until
you get it right. I've used my router and hinge and strike plate
templates to hang 4 doors so far, and I would never attempt to do it by
hand. Plenty of people will say that doing it by hand is "good enough"
but the ones done by hand are terrible. It's impossible ot make it
level unless you use a router. Plus the router this is real easy once
you know how to use it (hence my suggestion to practive on scrap wood).
You might also need a corner chisel.
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