Hanging an Old Door in a New Jamb

This story shows how to hang an old door in a new jamb.


If you want to keep an old door but the old jambs are damaged or you want to install an old door in new construction, purchase a door frame, sometimes called a jamb kit, at a lumberyard or home center. The kit consists of three pieces of lumber 9/16 inch thick and 4-3/8 inches wide. The two side jambs are milled across the top to receive the third piece, the head jamb.

The first step is to make the door fit the opening or vice versa. The door should be about 2-1/4 inches narrower than the rough opening and 1 inch shorter than the distance from the header to the finished floor. If you have to cut a door a significant amount in width, trim from both edges to keep the stiles symmetrical. With hollow-core doors, try not to cut beyond the solid edges. If you have to cut into the hollow area, save the solid edges and glue them back into the door to reinforce it.


About 1 to 3 hours

Table saw, circular saw, router, tape measure, layout square, chisels, drill/driver, utility knife

Accurate measuring and laying out, cutting with power saws, routing hinge mortises, trimming with a chisel, driving screws

Check that the rough door opening is square and the used door is square and flat.

Jamb kit, 2-1/2-inch screws, doorstop molding

Step 1

Hook the tape measure into the side jamb rabbets or dadoes and measure down a distance equal to the length of the door. Add 3/4 inch clearance for an interior door or 1/4 inch for an exterior door, plus the thickness of any flooring that will be added later. Cut the jambs to this length.

Step 2

Hold the hinge jamb along the edge of the door and lay out the hinge locations on the jamb. The top of the door should be just slightly more than 1/16 inch below the edge of the rabbet or dado. Mark the mortise locations with a sharp pencil.

Step 3

Scribe the hinge leaf outline onto the door edge with a sharp utility knife. Set a 1/2-inch straight router bit slightly deeper than the hinge leaf thickness. Rout close to the scribe lines. Finetune the mortise with a chisel.

Step 4

Cut the head jamb to a length equal to the door width plus the combined rabbet or dado depth plus slightly more than 1/8 inch. Screw the door frame together with 2-1/2-inch screws. Attach the hinges to the jamb and the door.

Step 5

Hang the door as you would a prehung unit. Check its fit in the opening before securing the jamb. Plane the strike-side edge of the door if necessary. Cut the stop moldings and install them.

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