Installing a Six-Panel Interior Door Can Be a One-Man Job

July 1, 2007

Since interior doors usually weigh less than comparable exterior doors, the door is easier to move, cut to size and install. One person can usually handle the installation. This installation was made even easier as the door to be installed fit a 24” wide opening. Never the less, the installation of a narrow width interior door still requires the same effort as a four-foot solid oak entry door.

Before installing a replacement door, look at the how the door fits into the jamb. Does the door appear to fit squarely in the jamb? If the answer is yes, then for most installations, the original door can be used as a template for the replacement door. Even if the door is not exactly level or plumb, the human eye in most instances cannot identify the variation if the variation incorporates both the door and the jamb.

If the door does not appear to fit squarely in the jamb, there are several ways to check.

The first way to check an existing door installation is to use a “torpedo” style level and a tape measure. With the door open, place the level against the lock edge of the door at the top, middle, and bottom. Is the door plumb, meaning is the door edge vertically level at each of the locations? Then place the level on the top of the open door. Is the top of the door level at both edges?

Next, check the approximate shape of the door with a piece of string positioned diagonally across the door from the top right to the bottom left. Tie a knot in the string to identify the position and place the knotted end at either the top left or bottom right and extend the string diagonally. If the distance is very similar, then the door is probably rectangular. If the dimensions are not similar, the door is not rectangular.

A third way is to measure the two legs of the jamb and determine if they are the same length. Use a large square to determine if the jamb legs are perpendicular to the header.

For this installation, unfortunately the door did not fit the jamb very well. The jamb was taller at the left corner by more than one-quarter inch and the door was approximately one-quarter inch wider at the bottom than at the top. In fact, the door opening was approximately 24-1/8 inches at the bottom and under twenty-four inches at the top. To complicate matters even further, the floor was tile, not padding and carpet. This made the overall height of the opening approximately 80-3/4”, approximately one-quarter inch larger than the standard 80” door. Door manufacturers recommend that the opening at the base of the door should not be greater than one-half inch tall.

To solve this problem, and have the installed door appear to fit in a square opening, the top of the door needed to be cut at an angle to compensate for the header variation. In this example, the top of the door was cut off, measuring down approximately one-quarter inch on the right (hinge) side in order to raise the door on the left (lock) side.

Once the top of the door has been cut, place the door in the opening to see how it looks. The door slid into the opening; however it was very tight at the top, gradually becoming almost the proper size at the bottom. Remember: When installing a door, the recommended gap between the legs of the jamb and the door edges is one-eighth inch.

Next, use a hand plane to shave the upper portion of the lock side of the door to create a gap of approximately 1/32” running the entire length of the lock side of the door. Use a jointer to finish the gap at approximately 1/8”.

The distance was measured for the 3-1/2” hinges. The door was raised to the proper position and the edges of the jamb hinge cutout were transferred to the door. A mark was made on the exterior face of the door. Marks were also placed on the hinge side of the door indicating the direction of the hinges. These two marks would ensure that the modifications made to the door were on the proper sides as well as position the hinges in the proper direction. The door was moved out of the jamb.

The hinge cutouts were made using a Major Manufacturing HIT-45TG3 and a 1/2” router bit. The HIT-45TG3 is a 5/8” (outer diameter) template guide for use with my Sears Craftsman Fixed Base Router. The template is secured to the base plate with three included Phillips head screws. The router bit is a 1/2” straight cutting bit having a cut length of 25/32”. The router uses a 1/4” diameter shank.

I purchased a Milescraft Hinge Mortise Guide Set, part number 1297. The Hinge Mortise Guide Set is used with a router equipped with a 5/8” template guide and 1/2” straight bit, to make mortises for 3”, 3-1/2” and 4” hinges. This Guide Set can cut large 5/8” and small 1/4” radiuses for radiused hinges.

Note: Using a router and template guide saved a significant amount of time.

Basic router rules:

· Always wear ear and eye protection.

· Before making any adjustment, always unplug the router.

· Always cut in a clockwise direction.

· Feeding the router too fast or with too much cutting depth can splinter the wood. Wood will show burn marks.

· Never reverse direction when operating a router.

· Always wait until the cutter stops turning completely before removing the router from the template.

· Make a second pass to ensure a clean installation.

Install the template guide onto the router and insert the cutter. Mount the hinge mortise guide with the 3-1/2” insert onto the original door. Adjust the cutter until it just scrapes the hinge cutout. making sure that at least three-quarters of the cutter shank is within the collet. Tightened the collet to the cutter and tighten the adjustments for the router.

Reposition the hinge mortise guide on the door edge, and mortise out the opening. Next, remove the hinge mortise guide and place a hinge into the opening. The newly mortised opening was at the proper depth as the hinge body was level with the door edge.

Install the hinge mortise guide positioning the guide to accommodate the direction of the hinges. Route the two hinge openings in the six-panel door.

To simplify the installation of the hinges in the door, use a Major Manufacturing MCD-9, a 9/64” diameter center drill designed for #8, #9 and #10 screws. The center drill slides against each of the screw holes in a hinge and centers the drill bit to create the pilot holes in the door and jamb. For this installation, only the door needed pilot holes.

The hinges were mounted onto the door, making sure the hinge pins were located towards the top of the door. The hinges were then mounted onto the jamb. The door would swing open and closed with no obstructions. The door fit the jamb evenly with approximately 1/8” openings on the jamb side and a 3/16” opening on the header. The floor opening was approximately 3/4” as the floor was tile.

For this article, we installed a Schlage Accents Champagne leverset in the Satin Nickel finish onto the primered door. This “F” series passage latch adjusts to fit standard door preparations. Even though the Champagne levers are handed, they can be removed and reversed in order to accommodate any door configuration.

The Schlage leverset was installed using the Pro-Lok Killer Jig, part number INJIG-KJ. The Killer Jig is designed to install cylindrical and tubular locks into wood swinging doors. The jig is designed for 1-1/2” and 2-3/8” diameter cross bore opening with a 2-3/8” or 2-3/4” backset, having a one-inch edge bore opening.

Note: The lock hardware will have to be removed from the door when it is painted the finish color.

The fit and appearance of the six-panel door and leverset significantly improved the overall features of the area. As a result of this door installation, the interior doors of the residence will all be replaced with six panel doors and new locks.


To enable this installation, the following items were used:

•  Six panel-door, for this applications, the door width was 24”

•  Major Manufacturing HIT-45TG3 - a 5/8” outer diameter template guide

•  Major Manufacturing MCD-9 - a 9/64” diameter center drill for #8, #9 and #10 screws

•  Milescraft Hinge Mortise Guide Set, part number 1297 - mortising guide for 3”, 3-1/2” and 4” butt hinges

•  Pro-Lok Killer Jig part number INJIG-KJ - door lock installation into wood doors

•  Router bit - 1/2” straight cutting bit with a cut length of 25/32”

•  Schlage Accents Champagne leverset, Satin Nickel finish, Part Number FA10 CHP 619

•  Circular saw, router, guide, Phillips head screwdriver, hammer

For more information, contact your local wholesaler or:

Major Manufacturing, 1825 Via Burton , Anaheim , CA 92806 . Telephone: 714-772-5202. Fax: 714-772-2302. Web Site:

Milescraft, Inc., Rockford , IL 61109 . Web Site:

Pro-Lok, 655 North Hariton Street , Orange , CA 92868 . Telephone: 714-633-0681. Fax: 714-633-0470. Website:

Schlage Lock, Customer Service Department. 1010 West Santa Fe Street , Olathe , KS 66051 . Telephone: 800-847-1864. Web Site: