Hope you guys had an awesome Labor Day. We split time between family and house projects which is pretty much our sweet spot. This week is going to be especially hairy thanks to having book stuff nearly every day, but we did manage to eke out a few things to share and hope to be back to normal next week (might not be as on top of comments until then either).
But back to my jamb. Or should I say my jambs? They don’t have casings yet, the leftover doorknobs will be upgraded to these backplated-versions, and one door still needs to be painted like whoa – but boy does it feel good to have two doors hanging on this side of the hallway. And because a bunch of you requested the full play-by-play, here’s how we added jambs and hung both doors – complete with details on carving out a spot for hinges and a doorknob.
Until last week, things have looked like this. The door-less laundry room wasn’t a big deal, since it actually made working in there easier. But the plastic drop cloth closing off the storage room was less than pretty and less than convenient.
Installing these two puppies gave me a whole new respect for doors. They’re a relatively complex operation, at least considering how much I took them for granted.
On top of the hardware (hinges, dooknob, strike plate) the doorway itself was made up of three separate trim pieces. All of which we’d be installing.
We debated purchasing a pre-hung door for the laundry room (one that comes already placed in a jamb, which saves you from having to carve out spots for the hinges and knob) but we had trouble finding one that matched the style we wanted for the storage room door, it was hard to beat the price on the slab (aka: not pre-hung) version. And since the laundry room door was an existing door that we’re reusing (it used to lead to the storage room), I’d be stuck making a jamb for that one anyway. So we decided to attempt making a jamb for that already-owned door first and if all went well (or at least okay) we’d proceed with hanging the other door from scratch too.
Well, not totally from scratch since Home Depot sells these $19 jamb kits for doors up to 36″ wide (ours are 32″).
Besides coming in three pre-cut pieces (two sides, one top) the nice thing about the kit is that the two side pieces already have a rabbet joint cut on one end so that the top piece can sit nicely across the two. Ours needed a slight trim to fit into the framed doorway, so I was just careful to cut it off the non-rabbeted end.
We propped up the door on the ground using some scrap wood so I could construct my jamb with gravity on my side. I leaned the side pieces in place, but couldn’t place the top piece until it was cut down a little bit.
I measured the width from jamb-edge to jamb-edge, but had to account for both the fact that it was sitting in the rabbet joints (so it’d need to be a little shorter than my measurement) and that I wanted to give it about 1/8″ of breathing room around the door too.
Once that was cut, I started the process of mortising/routing out the spots for the hinges on the jamb – since they need to be recessed into the wood to work. Since they were already attached to our door, I marked where the hinges should go on the jamb based on their door placement.
Once I had marked where on the jamb each one should go, I used a spare hinge to trace out the shape that needed to be routed out.
I purchased a compact router for $99 at Home Depot (it’s called a Rigid 1-1/2 HP Compact Router) and an $18 bit meant for work like this. I had done some of this work by hand before and it wasn’t super fast or super precise, so I decided it’d be worth the investment this time around.
Before taking my new router for a spin on the jamb, I practiced on a scrap board first. My freehand attempts weren’t great, so I started clamping some other wood scraps as sort of a guide. You can see how that worked out for me on the routed hinge spot on the far left of the board below. Muuuch cleaner.
When the time came to make my official first cut on the jamb, it came out awesome (if I do say so myself).
With both spots for the hinges cut, I could nail my three jamb pieces together. I used a 2″ nail through the side pieces into the top.
Here’s the jamb that Sherry and I pushed loosely in place within the framed door to the laundry room. You can see that we started the process of hanging this door before we did any of the backsplash (took us a while longer to tackle the glass one).
The next part is the most persnickety: getting every side of the jamb level and plumb. We did our best, adding shims – especially under the hinges – to help us adjust things where needed. Once we were satisfied, I nailed the jamb into the door frame on all sides.
I lost Sherry to Teddy at that point, but thanks to some shims under the door I could hang it myself by screwing the hinge into the jamb. Here was the moment of truth.
The moment was a bit of a whomp whomp because it didn’t work. Sad trombone. It was a little tight on the top corner.
I checked all my levels again, and it turns out that the top corner had slipped out of plumb when we turned our attention to the bottom. So I shoved a couple more shims in there to correct it and things were back in working order. Now that the door closed well, I could attach the strike plate (where the door latches), and nail in the stop molding around the jamb.
I was pretty darn happy with how it turned out, though it was definitely not speedy.
A little while later (we finished up the backsplash and the counter in between these two doors) it was time to wrestle this puppy into place (the glass isn’t frosted, it’s just covered in protective plastic).
Since the door didn’t have any hinges, I’d have to route out spots for them on both the door and the jamb this time. And since it’s a heavier door, I was adding three hinges. Instead of carefully clamping scrap wood each time around to guide my cut, I decided to make a template out of my practice board. Here’s where I marked where I needed to cut (using my jigsaw).
Here’s my wooden guide in action on the door, as I routed out the spot for the first hinge.
Once I had the three hinge mortises made on the door, I propped it up and loosely held the jamb pieces in place so I could mark the hinge placement on the side jamb piece. I also put some shims up top to ensure that I didn’t run into the same problem we had last time (having a tight fit up top).
With the hinges traced out on the jamb and my wooden template at hand, it was pretty quick work to route out the spots on the jamb.
I’ll fast forward a bit, since the process was the same from here the second time around – we nailed together the jamb pieces, brought them into the space, and then leveled, shimmed, and nailed everything in place. With Sherry’s help I got the door hung much faster this second time around… and it worked great! We were relieved. There were high fives and a fair amount of bad moon-walking.
Our dancing was cut short because this door still needed a knob. I bought this $19 kit to help drill the holes for the doorknob precisely. It wasn’t the sturdiest thing in the world, but it was worth the money just to have some instructions to follow – and the right size drill bits handy.
Basically it clips onto the door, using the strike plate as the guide for where it should go (of course, I had to add the strike plate first).
Then using one of two cross bore bits (depending on the one your knob requires) you drill a big honkin’ hole through the door, per the instructions.
Then you use the other bit to bore through where the latch will go.
If all goes well, you end up with something that looks like this.
The part it didn’t cover – and maybe this is just specific to the knobs we own – was routing out a spot on the end for the latch to recess into. I used my router freehand, so it didn’t come out perfectly but it does the trick just fine (we can smooth things out with caulk or wood putty before we prime/paint).
The victory was that it was hung, it closed securely, it stayed open when you opened it (some doors that aren’t hung level slowly close themselves when open), and it looked pretty – even in its unpainted film-covered state.
Since the wood floor was a little short of extending all the way to the door, I nailed in a couple of extra hardwood pieces to create a little horizontal threshold. We actually really like how it looks, so we hope it works with whatever flooring we end up with in the storage room. I do wish I had extended the wood flooring just an inch further into the laundry room so the tile didn’t peek through (d’oh) but I’ve been comforted by noting how many other thresholds/floor changes don’t align perfectly with the doors that I never really noticed before this project – so maybe nobody else will notice either? Until I pointed it out on the internet.
We plan to paint it when we spray all of the molding, and obviously the casings and such will go in when we do the rest of the room. We also ordered two more door knobs with the decorative back plates that we need, so they’ll match the other rooms off of this hallway.
We did tons of laundry last week for the first time since the laundry room door went up and it was AWESOME to be able to close the door. It really does make the laundry substantially quieter. But what we’re really loving is not having to wrestle that plastic drop cloth every time we go into the storage room. Life is good when the drop cloths come down.
It’s pretty exciting to stare down the barrel of close-to-done when it comes to this little addition of ours (if you can call the laundry room that, since it used to be unfinished space). On one hand it feels like it has taken us a while to get this far, and on the other hand it’s pretty amazing that this room wasn’t even drywalled a month ago – especially since our first and second houses’ kitchen renovations took us over four months each (and those were already finished rooms to start with). In the words of Dory: just keep swimming.