A door hinge template can help save time and money when hanging multiple new doors.
Beginning with New Doors
A door hinge template is only needed when you are hanging brand new doors that have never before been fitted with hinges. If you are reusing an old door after repainting or repositioning, the old door will already be prepared for hinges.
However, new doors will need to have an area chipped out or mortised into the door so the hinges fit flush against the door and allow it to operate smoothly.
Speed and Professionalism
These mortises can be done with a chisel and a hammer, and if you have only the occasional door to hang, handwork may be the route you choose to go. However, the finish on a hand-cut mortise may be uneven.
Instead, you may choose to use a ¼-inch collet router to make a more uniform mortise quickly. Free-handing such a cut with a router, however, can be difficult, especially when hinges are different sizes and shapes.
Using the Template
The door hinge template fits over the edge of the door or onto the framing piece to which the door attaches. You must mortise out the frame before installing it.
The template attaches to the door or frame with lock pins. Once the template is in place, use the router in the template to quickly cut the mortise for the hinge.
When you are doing multiple doors, you can mount the templates to a temporary rail so that they are spaced accurately, cut the mortises, then move the entire assembly from the door to the frame. You can then move onto the next door without spending a great deal of time making new measurements.
Door plate templates are available in plastic, fiberglass and metal. Each will adjust to several door thicknesses, and each has several hinge sizes. For example, one model accommodates 5 different door sizes, from 1 3/8 to 2 ½ inches, and has settings for hinges of 8 different sizes, from 2 ½ inches to 6 inches.
While most make accommodations for the different door sizes, and all quicken the process of mortising both the door and the frame for hinges, they do not perform equally well under strain.
Many who use the plastic models complain that they bend while in use, resulting in an uneven and inaccurate mortise. The fiberglass models, while better than the plastic, still bend and may distort the cut. If you are only mortising a few doors, however, you may choose plastic or fiberglass, priced at only $25 to $30.
The prices for metal door hinge templates are about $90 for a used set and go up from there. However, if you are installing multiple new doors, a metal template will be an investment you won’t regret. It will offer you increased speed and accuracy, along with a professional looking finish.