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Most of the time, you might not give the doors in your home a second thought. That is until they start sticking, scratching your floor or otherwise giving you grief. Then they can quickly have you on the threshold of madness.
If you do have a door needing some attention, it’s generally easier to resolve than you might think.
Rather than get someone in to do the work, our guide on how to plane a door like a carpenter should let you take care of things yourself. If you follow our handful of simple steps, it’ll be plane sailing all the way.
Tools & Materials
- Carpenter’s pencil
- Doorstop or wedge (optional)
- Screwdriver or drill (for taking down the door)
- Large workbench or sawhorses
- Clamps or straps
- Hand planer or electric planer
- A thin piece of cardboard
- Wood stain or paint (to refinish)
If one of your doors starts sticking or scraping along the floor, you have a couple of options. First, tighten the hinge screws in case that’s your issue.
If that doesn’t clear things up, your next step is to plane the door’s edges. It’s one of those classic jobs that sounds tough, but is actually surprisingly simple if you follow these steps…
1. Finding Where To Plane
Your first job is to locate the areas on your door’s edges where you need to plane. These are the parts of the door that are sticking, rubbing or scraping on the jamb or the floor.
Start with any areas where the paint is discoloured, or has been removed. Also run a thin piece of cardboard between the door and the jamb, then between the door and the floor. If it gets stuck anywhere, you need to do some planing.
2. Marking Up The Door
Once you’ve located areas which need to be planed, mark them up with a carpenter’s pencil clearly enough to see them after you’ve moved the door.
Make your marks on the faces of the door and not the edges, since any marks here will be removed by the planer!
3. Preparing To Plane
You’re now ready to take the door down to plane it. Don’t worry about having to re-hang it afterwards, as this guide from The Carpenter’s Daughter has you covered.
When you’ve got the door down, lay it on a stable surface like a large workbench or a pair of sawhorses. Clamp the door down, or secure it with straps so it doesn’t wobble or slip when you start to plane it.
Pro Tip: If one small area on the edge of the door needs to be planed, you might not have to take it down. Place the door in the position where you have the best access to the edge and immobilise it with a doorstop or wedge. You can then plane it in situ, whilst still following the rest of our tips.
4. Planing The Door
If you haven’t used a hand planer before, you might want to check out DIY Doctor’s in-depth guide. When you plane the vertical edges of the door, follow the wood grain.
Pro Tip: To speed up the process, use an electric planer.
For the horizontal edges, plane toward the centre from the outside edge. Always apply a steady but light pressure to avoid gouging the wood, helping to plane off a consistent amount with each stroke.
5. Check, Plane And Check Again
As soon as you think you’ve planed enough off the door, rehang it and check how it swings. You want to avoid taking off more wood than you have to. You can always plane off more, but you can’t get any back once it’s been planed.
If the door sticks or scrapes, take it back down and plane a little more, repeating the process until it opens and closes perfectly.
6. Refinish The Door
Once you’ve made the correct adjustments, sand down the areas you’ve planed to get them smooth again. Smoothness is all you’re aiming for, so don’t go overboard; you’ve already taken the right amount of wood off the door with your planer.
When the edges are smooth to the touch, reapply the same stain or paint you’ve used on the rest of the door.
You may also want to think about repainting the door in its entirety. There’s rarely a better opportunity to get it done easily than while it’s off its hinges. Then, simply rehang the finished door.
Pro Tip: As well as repainting the door, you can freshen it up in other ways while you’ve got it off its hinges. Kezzabeth has written a great guide on how to remove and restore old door furniture
You can achieve results a professional would be proud of by following our guide on how to plane a door as carpenters would. You’ll be feeling on Top of The World and like you’ve Only Just Begun with your woodworking career, even if you started Only Yesterday.
If you want to share your successes and struggles with planning (or simply suggest other Carpenters-related puns), drop us a comment below.
Alternatively, feel free to share this guide on social media and get your friends and colleagues involved in the discussion.