Mortising a Door Hinge Without a Router

If you’re doing more than say, three doors – the router is the way to go.  I actually prefer to do it by hand, probably because I’m a woodworker first and a carpenter second.

The same principles of chopping a mortise for a joint apply to mortising a hinge.  This should be common sense, but it isn’t.  I’ve seen field carpenters panic, knowing they have to mortise a door and don’t have a router available.  We do live in the 21st century, after all.

To be fair, this is a woodworking application, but this is the way mortising doors was taught before power routers.  Router planes are great for this job as well, unless you don’t have one.  There’s really no need to switch tools, though.  If you’ve got the chisel in your hand, you’re better off just using it.  This job is very quick if you know how to do it right.

It’s easy to botch this job if:

  1. You don’t know the easiest way to chop a shallow mortise
  2. You don’t have a sharp chisel (in my experience, field carpenters rarely do)

The second thing is more important because once you have a sharp chisel, the rest of it is super easy.  Of course, careful layout is key:

Now the fun part:

I would have liked to film this, but location and time constraints prevented me.  It’s really hard to document field work without ruffling homeowner feathers.  It’s actually my second post on this method (although the first one wasn’t very enlightening), and I probably will make a video at some point.  I think this is a trick every carpenter should have up their sleeve.


About Kinderhook88

Remodeling Contractor | Woodworker
This entry was posted in Carpentry, door and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Mortising a Door Hinge Without a Router

  1. Nice! So chisel down, that way you won’t rip out deep slices! Guilty as charged.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. hiscarpentry says:

    This is my preferred way to mortise hinges too. It’s a lot less noisy, and just as fast as a router. I actually have raced a friend, me and chisel against he and router. It was too close to call. (He won by a less than a half minute)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. hiscarpentry says:

    We had five doors each.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dan Antion says:

    I’m rarely doing more than one door. Give me a sharp chisel any day over the router.

    Liked by 1 person

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