How to Cut Door Hinges Without a Router | 3 Alternative Ways

How to Cut Door Hinges Without a Router

There’s no doubt to the fact that using hinge jig for doors as well as good quality router saves a lot of time when you are trying to make cuts for a door hinge.

However, it’s not absolutely necessary to have these tools. You can very well try some different methods and get quite similar results.

It may take a bit of time and your extra effort, but good news is the possibility is still there even when you don’t have these common mortise-making supplies. What are those ways and how to cut door hinges without a router as well as a typical jig? Let’s talk about that specifically today.

Cut Door Hinges with a Chisel

The space you create for mortising a hinge is basically what we are going after. So that the hinge can fit inside and a neat installation is possible. Now you can achieve this look with a hammer or even your hand along with a chisel tool. Here’s how you can do that. For the process, you’ll need a sharp utility knife too.

Start by Scoring with a Utility Knife

You must place the hinge right on door edge where you’d want it to locate. Use your hand to hold the hinge in that spot firmly. The door should be positioned in a way that back edge seems visible clearly.

Also keep in mind, that usually, the bottom hinges stay 11” top from door bottom. While door center typically holds the middle hinge. The top hinge should be placed around 7 inches below door top.

Once you are sure about where the hinge goes on door, bring a utility knife. You can also use a pencil, but the knife will give better visible outlines to work with. If you choose to use a pencil, make sure the lines are thick enough.

Use your knife and trace down those three outside edges of the hinge. Make sure the wood scoring is done in 1/16-inch depth. You can go deeper if you want to. If you find it hard to hold the hinge in place by hand, simply mount it with temporary screws.

Drilling pilot holes should be enough for the purpose. Just make sure to get rid of screws and keep the hinge aside once you are done with outline scoring.

Work with The Chisel on Your Created Outline

For this purpose, a 1.25-inch chisel would work best. You want to vertically hold the chisel. Make sure the beveled side is facing towards mortise. Now use a hammer to tap on top of the chisel. Let the wood be cut at around 1/8-inch depth.

You may also follow the hinge leaf’s thickness. Keep the chisel moving. And at the same time, tap on it. So that it cuts around the entire scored outline. You want to stay with the scored lines. Make sure you are not making a mess line or don’t try to enlarge the mortise.

Cutting Parallel Lines

From one end of the outline, you want to place chisel vertically at 1/8 inch away. This is the waste area basically. Now follow same thickness that you used earlier and tap hammer on the chisel to make a cut.

You want to cut along the mortise’s full width, so move chisel as much as necessary. Go ahead with repeating a similar process. And make parallel line cuts that are 1/8 inch (or hinge thickness) apart. Go towards the other mortise end this way.

Removing Waste Between the Cut Lines

At this point, you need to hold the chisel firmly at a low angle with door. It should be parallel with the length of door. Make sure the chisel’s flat side is against wood. And now you can use the hammer to tap on chisel lightly.

Do this to get rid of any waste that is residing between the line cuts you’ve just made in previous step inside mortise. Don’t go beyond the hinge thickness with cut depth. If you don’t want to use a hammer, your hand’s pressure can also work. For some people, using their hand let them have better control over the process.

Cleaning the Mortise

At this step, you have to put the chisel’s beveled side flatly against wood. And then push it using your hand’s pressure. So that any last bit of waste can be out from the spot. And also, this will help to flatten the mortise bottom.

You don’t want to gouge the surface. Also, don’t try to cut inside the mortise’s shallow walls. Just place the hinge inside this mortise you created. Make sure it is flushing well with the wood available in surrounding. And if there are any high areas, remove those. You already know the removal method using chisel.

Carpenter cutting door hinges using a chisel

Cut Door Hinges with a Drill

If you have a drill at home and want to learn how to cut out hinges on door frame using it, then this segment will definitely interest you. For the process, you’ll need a Forstner bit, pencil, measuring tape, sawhorses, chisel, and of course a drill.

Take Measurements & Set Drill Depth

The part of taking measurements needs you to use measuring tape and draw outline using a pencil. Place the door on top of sawhorses. And then you can mark the measurements on it with a pencil. Make sure the hinge outline is facing towards roof. The hinge depth should match with drill’s depth. Going deeper will cause problems later, so avoid doing that.

Go for The Cut Next

Turning the drill on, you should start making cut along with outline. Don’t hurry the process, instead go steady with slow movements. You want to start drilling and then move towards the edges. The mortise cut should take less than a minute to complete. Use a chisel to clean any rough edges available. You can even use the drill to clean rough edges out. However, with a chisel, the available control makes it easier. And also, the outcome is more accurate.

Cut Door Hinge Using Dremel Tool

If you own the versatile Dremel tool, then getting door hinge mortise is no big deal for you. This tool can get the cut prepared with quite less effort. Here’s how you can make that happen.

Mark the Hinge Position

You need to make markings on where the hinge would go in door. So lay it flat and go for the mark-making using a regular pencil. Make sure the joint receiving side is upward when laying.

Taking appropriate measurements from door top and bottom will help you better decide the positioning. Next place the hinge on door spine. Make sure it is in line with the pencil-created line. Grab a utility knife and trace the outline on wood.

Use Dremel To Set the Door Hinge Housing

Turn the tool on and try pushing it downwards. So that the bit can fully dive into hinge. And once it does, you can stop pushing the Dremel. Make sure you are following the pencil outline as correctly as possible. Going steady and slow is the key to achieve a greater level of accuracy. Once done, you need to get rid of all extra wood out from the framework. Get rid of all the dust away as well. As soon as the hinge sits flush inside hole, the process is done. You can repeat for all the other hinges that need to fit in.

Wrap Up

And that’s pretty much all on how to cut door hinges without a router. Here you have used tools that are also commonly available at a woodworker’s place. Hopefully at least one out of these three will work in your favor.

Also, make sure you are wearing some proper safety gear when dealing with sharp objects. Such projects do demand proper personal protective measurements to keep things safe. Go for good quality safety goggles as well as gloves for your hand protection.

Another thing you should pay attention to is asking for help when handling a heavy door. Even if you have a lot of experience with such home improvement projects, it’s best to keep things prepared.

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