Hanging doors gets a little easier
Some days I hate my job.
Have you ever walked on a job and faced a pile of 150 solid core 3/0 x 8/0 doors? And they’re on the first floor? And there’s four floors? And no elevator? I have. All the time.
Man, there are days when all I do is install hinges on doors.
There are days when all I do is wheel doors down hallways.
There are days when all I do is carry doors upstairs—a lot of stairs.
Nothing is much harder than working day in and day out with doors that weigh as much or more than you do. Which is why I’m always on the lookout for tools that make the job easier, like door dollies. Look for a story on those soon (if I can get my uncle Gary to take the pictures!).
Not long ago, I found a really cool tool—the DoorJack. It’s smaller than the prybar everyone on my crew used to carry. Look at Larry Rose (Mr. Clean, we call him), stepping on his two-foot prybar! Try and get THAT in your tool belt!
For hanging Timely Jambs (look for a story on that soon, too), or for lifting a door just enough so the hinges drop clean into the mortises, nothing works better than a DoorJack.
Here’s how it works:
The way I learned from Mr. Clean, you always stand the doors against the hinge jamb, with the hinges just past the door stop. Then you tilt the door up toward the top hinge. The door usually hits the top of the jamb before the hinge is high enough, so kick the bottom of the door a little until the door clears the top of the jamb, then tilt it up a little more, until the top hole in the hinge lines up with the top hole in the jamb. Then run in a hinge screw. But don’t torque the screw down. Just snug it up a little.
Next, move over behind the door and push the bottom of your shoe against the door until the door stands up plumb. Since it’s hanging on just one screw, the door drops down a little, but that’s okay. You can fix that later, after you’ve put a screw in each of the lower hinges. Don’t torque those screws down; just snug them up.
Then put the DoorJack under the door and lift it up just enough so the hinges fall into the mortises. That’s when you drive in the rest of the screws and tighten them all down.
What I really like about the DoorJack is that it weighs next to nothing. It’s made from recycled plastic, but it’s tougher than getting a raise out of my dad. Plus, it can lift a door about 1 1/2 in., which is more than I ever need, so I don’t have to carry a block of wood, too.
You can get the DoorJack online at Amazon. And they’re less than thirty bucks!
Nick Katz is a carpenter by genetic and financial default. Almost every male in his family is a contractor, a carpenter, or works somehow in construction (including a few women!). There are a lot of things he’d rather be doing, like riding dirt bikes in the desert near the Colorado River, or racing motocross, or lying on the beach with a beer and a…but everyone has to make a living, right? He makes a pretty good one as an accomplished carpenter, working on high-end residential and challenging commercial jobs through the Los Angeles area.
Nick! Way to go on the article man….good job!
Hey Nick good article sounds like this tool will really help in a jamb! Hanging doors is fun to a point like after 10 is too much
I’d have loved to have read your article, however I could not get over “And there’s four floors”.
There IS four floors? Surly you meant to say, “And there are four floors. I’m not your English teacher but as a writer you ought to be able to get such basic grammar correct.
Nick is not a writer, he’s a full-time carpenter. We edit the articles provided by our readers as lightly as possible. We try not to change the voice or the original message. If an article comes to us sounding like a lunch-time rant…well, hopefully it will sound the same way when we publish it! I’m sorry you couldn’t get past the first floor. Nick made it to the top.
well said Gary
Surly you meant to say, “And there are four floors.
Don’t you mean “Surely” ?
It may pay to check over your post when complaining about grammar
Great tip. Now…if we can only find a $20 tool to carry that 100lb door up four flights of stairs!
I found a chromed door jack for $3.99 at Harbor Freight a decade ago (no longer stocked) and can find it about half the times I look for it. ;) They’re a heavensend. Friends recently turned me on to the Trojan DC-9 2 Wheeled Clamping Cart Unit, $132 at Am*z*n. I’ll build my own for $20, thanks. Then again, going up stairs with heavy doors, it might be easier to drag ’em on padded tarps. Or how about a few teflon-coated 1x12s with triangular stops which fit the stairs?
P.S: I agree with Rick. Why don’t you editors ask the writers if they want their copy checked and fixed?
Nick (and Gary) FWIW I _am_ a writer, and to be honest I didn’t catch the “there’s four floors”. Yes the floorS are plural, but the condition of “a four floor slog up the stairs” is a singular hassle. It may be technically incorrect but absolutely accepted in spoken English to make it “there’s four_floors ahead of me… and since you’re writing in first-person, I think it’s much more in keeping with your voice. If I had been editing this for JLC – it would have stayed as-is.
Frankly, I thought it was very well written. No “there” when you meant “their” or “your” when you meant “you’re” – I say good job and good article. Keep writing man – we need more news and views from the front lines.
Hi I’m an apprentice carpenter and i speak different languages. And seriously i do not think think it’s even an issue if one is bad with grammar especially myself. What’s most important is the content and originality of it all. I’m not looking for English lessons, but for really handy guides from our fellow carpenters!
I definitely relate to the carrying part and have carried my share of 3’0″ x 8’0″ sc doors. I’ve used everything from the prybars mentioned to a scrap of wood under the hinge side. One thing I NEVER had to hassle with though was trying to get the hinge lined up in the mortise making me wonder: are you only using fixed pin hinges? and if so, why?
We don’t split the hinges when we hang doors. It’s too time consuming and labor intensive. It’s much easier to hang the door by tilting it into the jamb and putting one screw through the top hinge, then pushing your foot against the bottom of the door to raise it plumb. Once it’s plumb you can put a screw into each of the lower hinges. Sometimes a heavy door will drop just a little because the hinges aren’t nested perfectly in the mortises (sometimes you can’t tighten the screws down all the way). That’s when the Doorjack comes in very handy. We used to use a large prybar or drywall lifter for that, but the DoorJack is lighter and smaller and lifts higher. You only have to lift the door 1/8 in. or so, just enough to drop the hinges into the mortises. You place the Jack right under the hinge stile. One guy, working alone, can hang huge doors, over 8 ft. tall, using this method. It’s a technique we learned from production hangers in S. CA. They also taught us how to hang metal jambs with the doors swinging using the same kind of technique. NO screws in the jamb until the door is in the opening. You use a lifter or the DoorJack under the center of the door to take the weight off the hinge jamb and adjust for plumb. Then you start driving in fasteners, etc.
Nice article and great info. Thanks for taking the time to write it and share it with us.
By the way, I think it is very unfair that “rick” made the comment about a missed point of grammar then goes on to misspell “surely”. And then, in agreeing with rick, good ol’ Larry decided to make up his own word, heavensend. Got a good laugh out of that.
Please do keep the articles coming. I read them all…
And “They’re a heavensend.” when you are a referring to a singular tool…”It’s” is what you want to use, as in “It’s a heaven-sent instrument”.
I just use my drywall lifter. RT
Me too! BUT…the doorjack will be smaller and easier to carry!!!
The way I was taught, you use a short piece of emt and roll the door around and tilt it this way and that. Works well, but I think I’ll get a doorjack anyway. I always say: “You can’t have too many tools.”
Anyhow, you guys are all entertaining; keep it coming.
Nick — Great Story!
Gary — Great support (and idea for THISisCarpentry!)
Joe — Great response!
EVERYONE — I understand the complaints, having my share of grammar & spelling rants…. but remember, it’s about WHAT we do, and HOW WELL we do it — if we were all ENGLISH majors we’d be reading THISisEnglishLiterature or similar!
I also prefer to see/read the language of choice used properly, but occasionally get tired of the rants when they take the discussion off-course.
Writers/editors: feel free to rip/shred/fold/spindle/mutilate this message….
Great article! I know of a contractor that fired 2 finish carpenters that used a prybar like that to hang finished doors back in the jambs. Now when we work for him that is the on going joke we bring up when installing doors. Next job we do for him I’ll buy him his very own Door Jack.
Trend Routing Technology featured our door stand and out door clamp at the JLC Show in Providence. We received a phenomenal response from the contractors – the tools are simple and functional. Please take a look at the links below.
I got a thing called a ” Pocket Kicker ” about 20 years ago. Solid aluminum, same rocker principle. Still use it, bad grammer or not. Love the new format. Keep it up.
What’s a Pocket Kicker look like? Post a picture!
A pocket kicker is the same concept, only smaller and less expensive. It doesn’t have the height range of this unit or a substantial enough lifting-lip in my experience. I have one for drywall and love it, but it always seems to pop-out from under heavy doors. The DoorJack unit seems much better suited for the job. (And I get to buy another tool … :-)
You can follow the link below to see one on Amazon:
I have a pocket kicker for drywall. It has a very short lip and has sharp edges, so there is much greater likelihood of slipping and scratching a door.
Hey, any tips on how to mortise a door slab using a dremel?
the link to their site does not work, any idea where to buy the door jack????
Unfortunately I believe the DoorJack has gone out of business! Perhaps one of the comments following this article will give you an idea for a comparable tool.
Tristan M. Katz
Associate Editor, THISisCarpentry.com