How to Install Mortise Hinges on a Door


When installing a wooden door into a door jamb, ideally the portion of the edge of the door and jamb should be mortised. The amount of material that will be replaced by the hinge should be removed from both the jamb and the edge of the door. The quickest way to install mortise hinges on a door is to use a router and a hinge mortise template to remove just the material necessary to mount the hinge flush with the door and the jamb.

Things You'll Need

  • Hinge mortise template
  • C-clamp
  • Plunge router with guide collar
  • 1/2-inch straight-cutting router bit
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Lean the door against a work table or sawhorse so that the edge of the door to receive the hinge is facing upward, and the side of the door on which the hinge pin will be located should be facing your body.

  • Mark the outlines for the hinges on the edge of the door with a pencil.

  • Place a hinge mortise template over one of the hinge locations on the edge of the door, and clamp the hinge in place using a large C-clamp.

  • Insert the guide collar into the base of a plunge router, then install a 1/2-inch straight-cutting bit into the router's collet. Tighten the collet using the router's wrenches to hold the bit securely in the collet.

  • Measure the thickness of your hinge mortise template, and add this measurement to the thickness of one side of the hinge. Adjust the depth gauge of the router so that the depth of the bit's cut is equal to this measurement.

  • Place the router over the template, with the guide collar inside the template. Turn on the router, and after the motor is at full speed, plunge the bit downward into the wood. Ease the bit around the template, gliding the collar along the edges of the template until the entire mortise in the side of the door has been cut. Raise the bit out of the wood, and turn off the router before lifting the router motor off of the template.

  • Loosen the C-clamp and remove the template.

  • Clean up any imperfections in the mortise with a sharp chisel. If your hinge has square corners, you can use a hammer and chisel to square the rounded corners of the mortise by holding the chisel perpendicular to the corner and tapping the end of the hammer to perforate each side of the corner. Then slip the chisel underneath the outlined section of wood and pry it out to square the corner.

  • Repeat steps 3 through 8 for any other hinges on the edge of the door. If necessary, you can use the same procedure for mortising the door jamb for the other half of the door hinges.

Tips & Warnings

  • When using a router, always wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from flying debris.

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