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How to Add a Mortise for a Third Hinge

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When I built the shelving unit for the inside of my laundry room utility closet door, I built it with the intentions of loading it up full of stuff. Only problem with that is I now had a rockin tough unit ready to be loaded but my door was stocked with little puny hinges that couldn’t bear the load.

My solution was to add another hinge in the middle of the door and also upgrade the hinges. The door had two existing regular interior hinges, for replacements I bought commercial grade hinges. You see these often on metal doors, like at commercial car shops and what not.
1) I took the door off and moved it out to the shop. See puny hinge below.

2) I didn’t put much thought into where I was going to put the third mortise (the sunken cavity where the hinge goes in the door jam and door is called the mortise), I picked a place that looked about in the middle and went with it. Then I bought a template for mortising doors at Home Depot. The template does exactly what it sounds like: you put in the size of your hinge, clamp it to the door, and then all you have to do is take your hand router and carve away. Once you take the template off, you have yourself a perfect mortise where you slip the hinge in place and screw it in.

Quick note: Since my original hinges were rounded edges, I thought to stick with rounded hinges. However, the tough hinges only come in square cut and in ugly grey.

3) The template always produces a rounded edge mortise but since my hinges were square, after I took the template off I got a chisel and hammer (you can also use a flat nose screwdriver) and just chipped out the corners. Also, since I was converting from rounded to square on the existing ones I chipped those corners as well.

4) Next I went inside and did the same chipping corners routine with the mortises on the door jam.

Rounded
 Square
It’s a fit!

Now it was time to make the third mortise from scrap. The template I purchased at Home Depot which is made by Ryobi, only clamps onto the door…. it does not clamp onto the door jam.

5) Since the template doesn’t clamp onto the door jam I brought out my wood chisels and bought me something called a butt marker. …yep, a butt marker. It is a nifty little tool that cost about $5 at Home Depot that you place where you want your desired mortise and hit it with a hammer until it leaves an impression. Then once you remove it, you can take your chisels and chisel out within the lines. Very handy. So that’s what I did. Again, it was only sold in round, so after it was in, I chipped away the corners to make it square.

Tips: Don’t go too deep. Have the hinge handy so you can stick it in place to determine if you need to make it deeper or not. Also, invest in some actual wood chisels for this part. I bought a pack of three for $9 at Home Depot and they made the job pretty easy. Also remember that hinges come in different sizes, so make sure if you are using a butt marker or even a template that you are using the correct size.

Ok, so here is a Wilker Don’t and I’m pretty ashamed of myself for this one. When the door was in the shop and after I used the router and template to mortise in the middle, I took a measurement from the top hinge down to the top of the one I just created so that I could determine where to place it on the door jam inside the house. Not too complicated right? Well, with the door laying flat I forgot to take ordination of it and in fact took a measurement from what would become the bottom hinge to the middle. This means that when I went to put the door back in place, the top and bottom hinges lined up, but not the middle. I wasn’t about to chisel out another mortise in the jam, so I ended up using the template to relocate the mortise on the door. Eh, silly mistake.

6) Now that all the mortising was done, I started to put my tough hinges on the door when I remembered (with one look) that they were hideous. So I set them up on a scrap piece of wood and gave them a quick paint job. After they were dry, I screwed them into the door.

7) Next, with no puny hinges in sight, was to hang the door back on the jam and load up my shelving unit.

Total Time: 1.5

Total Cost: $30

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3 Comments

  1. Just found your site, love it!! I dream of being a diy’er. so now I just admire what others do. Maybe one day 🙂

    Keep up the wonderful blog!!

    • Hey Trish, I’m happy you found me and even more happy you enjoy my blog. : ) The most difficult thing about being a diy’er is getting started, but once you start it is so difficult to stop.

      If you ever have questions about a project you want to do, just send me a message or email and I’ll see if I can help. Have a good day!

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