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How To Trim or Plane an Interior Door

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Your door does not fit correctly, now you are wondering how to trim or plane an interior door?

There are many reasons why an interior door may not fit.  Usually, it is because something has been changed, such a buying a new door or adjusting the door frame.  Or maybe the shape of your door frame has changed over the years due to house ground movement (subsidence).

Below is a handy step by step guide on how to trim an interior door.

Step 1.  Identify the Problem Areas

First of all, check out which area of the door is affected.  Try to push the door into the frame, either with or without hinges.  This will show you what parts of the door stick.  Mark the areas which need material removed.  Usually, material needs to be removed from the bottom, and maybe the door edge (next to the handle).

Step 2.  Remove Door from the Frame

For such a task, you need to remove the door hinge screws. The best way to do this is to start at the bottom hinge first.  When unscrewing the top hinge, make sure you hold the door firmly so it don’t fall over.

Step 3.  Place the Door on Stable Surface

It is easier to perform work on the stable surface such as a work bench or a saw horse.  As a result, you are able to use tools safely without things moving about.

Below is a telescopic saw horse you can buy from the Amazon store

Step 4.  Decide if a Plane or Circular Saw is Needed

  • If you need to remove more than 2mm of material.  You will need to view step 5 on how to cut your interior door with a circular saw.  Then continue to read steps 7 and 8.
  • If you need to remove less than 2mm of material.  You will need to view step 6 on how to plane an interior door.  Then continue to read steps 7 and 8.

Step 5.  Remove Material via a Circular Saw

  • Ensure you have a straight line which indicates how much material you need to remove from your door edge. This will be your cut line. It is best to score this line with a knife to prevent chipping during cutting.
  • Next you need to line up the saw blade just to the inside of the line.
  • Set up a straight edge along the line you have drawn (such as a straight piece of timber), then clamp the straight edge down. This straight edge will help make your circular saw cut accurate and straight along your line.
  • Your circular saw blade ideally should be carbide-tipped, and around 40 teeth.
  • Turn the saw on and begin to push the saw into the wood. Then follow the straight edge so that you cut neatly down your line.  Push the saw all the way through until the piece falls off.

We recommend this circular saw from the Amazone store

The circular saw below comes with a blade that is 12 teeth (Blade number B-07967).  If you want a much better finish then you could purchase a 40 teeth blade.

40 teeth blade for Makita cicular saws from the Amazon store

Step 6.  Remove Material via a Plane

As you have never used a plane before, there are some things you must know before you plane an interior door.  Having an understanding of how it works will enable you to use it safely.  A planer has very sharp blades that spin at incredibly fast speeds to remove wood.  The amount of wood it removes is equal to the distance between the rear and front of the planer shoe.

Here are some tips when using a planer:

  • Set your planer to remove small amounts of wood. Just a skim at a time.
  • Ensure that you have a clear path to plane. Plane off any major bumps before you start planing the whole edge.
  • Do not expect your planer to make your boards flat and straight. An electric plane simply follows the contour of the wood.
  • Remember to let the plane do the work. You do not need to put pressure on the tool.  If you do apply pressure make sure it is towards the back part of the plane.
  • Do not lay any plane flat on its blade when not in use. It is best to lay planes on their side.
  • Remove the wood until you reach the line that you marked.
  • Make sure the planed edge is square and flat. If you think you planed edge will look even from a distance, plane again until it is even.
  • Be careful with your plane when using it! It can be a dangerous power tool if you are careless with it.

    We recommend this plane from the Amazon store

Step 7.  Attach Door Again

Re-hang the door.  To do this you need to screw the hinges to the door edge.  And then screw the other side of the hinges to the door frame.  Make sure the door hangs evenly within the door frame.  There should be a slight gap around the door when it is closed.

As a general rule of thumb, you should have approximately a 2mm gap at the sides and top.  The bottom of your door should have a 5mm to 10mm gap depending on the type of floor you have.

Step 8.  Work on Appearance

Depending what part of your door were planed, you may need to improve the appearance of your planed edge.  Or maybe you need paint your whole door.  If so, then you can view our home painting guide.  Usually, a water based Satinwood paint like the one from Amazon below is ideal for interior doors.

We hope you have enjoyed this guide on how to trim or plane an interior door.


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Posted on 22nd December 2018 at 12:00 pm

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