By Larry Walton
Cutting Off Doors to Clear for your New Flooring.
At Oregon Carpenters we hang hundreds of doors a year, so learning how to set them up for proper floor clearance is important. However, there are times when cutting off doors cannot be avoided especially on home-improvement projects where there has been a change in flooring.
Determining how much to cut off can be a problem. If in doubt, sneak up on it. In other words, cut off a little, try it and cut off a little more if necessary.
If the door is dragging on carpet, it works pretty well to put a No. 2 pencil on the carpet and mark the door. The radius of the pencil usually provides adequate clearance. Swing the door over the full arc of its travel and mark it where it drags heaviest on the carpet.
If you are on a new hard surface, like tile, wood or vinyl, and you can’t get the door on the hinges because it is too high on the new flooring, put the door as close as possible to position and measure how much it would need to drop to get the hinge plates to line up, or to get the hinge plate to settle into the hinge-plate mortise. Adjust this measurement to take off an additional 1/4 inch for clearance.
Here are the steps I take to cut off a door so it has clearance to swing.
Approach with Caution
Don’t jump too quickly onto the task of cutting off exterior doors. If the door is dragging on the threshold, make sure there is not another issue at play, such as loose hinge screws or out-of-place threshold parts. If the door is not clearing interior flooring, the better fix is often to raise the entire door jamb and threshold. Cutting off the door without raising the threshold may result in an improper seal. If you decide to cut off an exterior door, make sure you have a plan for sealing the bottom of the door against the threshold when the door is closed.
Shop-Made Sanding Block
To chamfer the cut edge of the door, make a sanding block by cutting a 2-by-3/4-inch strip of wood 1/2 inch shorter than the diameter of the peel-and-stick sanding paper for your random orbit sander. The length of the sanding block bridges over dips in the saw cut and gives the resulting chamfer a much straighter appearance than the saw cut.
Door Cut-Off Quick Tips
• Make sure you are cutting the bottom and not the top of the door.
• Score the door to prevent tear-out from the saw blade.
• Protect the door surface to avoid scratches from the saw base.
• Chamfer the door bottom to hide bobbles in the cut and to prevent snagging and chipping in daily use.