Doors: Problems and Solutions



Sticking Doors: Planing Sides

Doors can stick when part of the door edge is binding against the frame or floor. Gently removing wood from these areas will return the door to an easy opening and closing action.

Tools / Supplies: Pencil, plane


A. Mark on the door edge, with a pencil, where it touches the frame. For elongated areas, draw a pencil guide line along the door edge. B. Open the door and plane along the edge, down to the guide line. Check that the door fits; re-plane if necessary.

Awkward Areas

  • The sticking area is very close to the floor. If there isn't enough room for a plane, remove the door from its hinges.
  • The sticking area is very close to the latch. Do not risk damaging the plane on the metallic latch surface. Remove the latch before planing, and /or recess the latch in the door slightly farther in.

Sticking Doors: Scribing Bottom

Doors can also stick when the entire bottom edge binds against the floor.

Tools / Supplies: Measure, panel saw, wood, pencil, block plane.


A. Measure the exact height needed to clear floor level. Cut a small offcut of wood to the height that you have just measured. B. With a pencil on top, move the offcut across the floor to trace an exact line on the door. C. Remove the door from the frame and plane down the guide line. If a large amount of wood needs to be removed, use a saw.

Rattling Doors: Moving The Strike Plate

Doors that fit too loosely in their frame rattle in a draft. This is often due to the strike plate being in the wrong position. Measure the area accurately and move the strike plate.

Tools / Supplies: Combination square, pencil, screwdriver, drill-driver, chisel


A. Measure the gap between the door latch and the closing edge. B. Transfer this measurement to the area between the frame edge and the strike-plate opening. Move the strike plate to this position. C. Pilot hole the screw points. Chisel out any further wood from the door jamb to accommodate the strike plate’s new position.

Rattling Doors: Moving The Doorstop

The other reason a door rattles in a draft is that the doorstop has been wrongly positioned. Moving the doorstop to the correct place should fix the problem.

Tools / Supplies: Chisel, hammer, nails


A. Pry off any doorstop sections that do not fit properly against the door when closed. B. Reattach the removed sections, making sure they touch the door edge along their full length when the door is closed.

Latch Problems

The latch does not catch when the door closes. The strike plate may be too far forward in the frame. Filing the plate’s inner edge may be all that's needed. The latch does not catch in the strike plate. The plate may be too far recessed in the frame. Pack out the plate, in the same way as shown for packing out a hinge.






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Tightening Hinge Attachments

Tools / Supplies: Power drill-driver, dowels, hammer, chisel, wood adhesive

A door may not close properly because the hinges are loose. You can fix this by drilling out the old holes and plugging them with wooden dowels. New pilot holes are then drilled in the surface created by the dowels. Begin by unscrewing the leaves of the hinges attached to the jamb.


A. Use a large wood drill bit to bore out a hole in the door jamb at each existing screw hole. B. Apply wood adhesive to the end of a cut section of dowel. C. Tap the dowel into the hole.


D. Continue adding dowels into the holes as required. Allow the glue to dry. E. Cut off the exposed dowel ends with a chisel. F. Redrill pilot holes for screws into the dowels, and rehang the door.

Filling Old Hinge Positions

If you are moving the door to the other side of the frame, you will need to fill in the old hinge recesses in the frame.

Tools and Materials: Wood, adhesive, block plane


A. Cut a piece of wood with the exact dimensions of the former hinge position. B. Glue the wood in position, with the patch sitting slightly above the surrounding surface. C. Once dry, plane the patch down to the exact level of the surrounding wood, then fill and decorate as required.

Packing Out a Hinge

“Packing out” can help a door to open and close if it's binding on its hinges. It is also a good solution if too much wood has been removed from the frame or door to fit a hinge.

Tools and Materials: Scissors, cardboard, drill-driver


A. Remove the door. Cut out pieces of cardboard to the exact shape of the hinge recess. B. Position the cardboard in the hinge recess. Rehang the door. C. Test the door, adding more pieces of cardboard if required. Repeat for other hinges on the frame.

Monday, November 3, 2008 23:52 PST