<< I would like to cut 1/4" on the side where I
want to install the spring, surface mount hinges, and that should give me 1/4"
clearance on each side. Does this sound right? >>
No. The usual clearance that finish carpenters use follows the old nickel and
dime rule, thickness of a dime on the hinge side and a nickel on the latch side
with a taper towards to stop molding. You are (apparently) fitting the door
into an opening, and with 1/4" clearances, the stop moldings will be big thick
ugly 1/2" size or better. Better kick back and do a bit more planning on this