how to trim/shorten hollow-core doors

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Old 02-01-01, 11:34 AM
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Since the new carpeting I just had installed is thicker than the carpet & padding it replaced, I now have 18 (eighteen) interior doors that are at least an inch or so too long. Although the doors are 22 years old, they're actually in good shape, and right now, I can't afford to replace them (plus, the oak grain/wood color matches the rest of my interior woodwork). However, because the doors are hollow-core, I'm really nervous about trying to trim them. Is there a way I can do this without destroying them?
 
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Old 02-01-01, 12:29 PM
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Yes, you can trim off an inch or so from the bottom of hollow core doors. The framing inside the bottom of the door is about 2" thick, I believe. Don't cut off any more than necessary to clear your new carpet.
You will need two sturdy sawhorses, a circular saw with very fine-tooth (paneling) blades, a measuring tape, a long straight-edge (yard stick, etc.), and a carpenter's square.
Remove the doors one at a time, and take outside to the sawhorses.
Make absolutely certain that you're cutting off the bottom (don't laugh, accidentally cutting off the top has been reported in here, which destroys the door).
Measure up from the bottom on both sides of the door, use the long straight-edge to pencil on a saw line, check it for square, and SLOWLY saw off the door. Fine-tooth saw blades don't cut as fast as normal blades, so don't force it or you will "burn" the wood. Let the saw do the work, and just move it steadily across.
With 18 doors to trim, you will probably need more than one blade, because they do get dull. You can tell by the cutting as you go.
Good Luck!
 
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Old 02-01-01, 06:19 PM
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You can probably trim that much off of the bottom of the doors without any problems. Can I suggest that you use a jig to to it? Very simple. Attach an 1/8" X 40" X 8" piece of masonite, plywood, etc. to a straight 1X4 that is also 40" long. Use the 1X4 as a guide for your saw. Once you cut the first door, the edge of the masonite, plywood, etc. will then be exactly set for your saw, since you will cut it when you cut the door. Just use a couple of spring clamps to hold it in place. Every cut will be as straight as the 1X4. The shoe of your saw will ride on the plywood, masonite, etc., so scuffing the finish of the door is not an issue. Hope this helps.
 
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Old 02-01-01, 06:30 PM
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As usual, the pros always know how to do it easier and better.
lefty nailed it again!
Good luck, Maryet.
 
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Old 02-01-01, 08:39 PM
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Thanks Old Guy & Lefty, for the detail you both included in your instructions - I no longer feel quite so apprehensive about this project.
 
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Old 02-01-01, 09:13 PM
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Hi Lefty,
I like the Jig idea. I've been using a straight edge though the jig would elimate having to tape the item or saw to protect from marring a door, shelf or countertop. I was wondering if the jig would keep luan from kicking up on the top side of a door or is pre-cutting with a utility knife still recommended.
Thanks
Stephen

[Edited by Small Job Service on 02-02-01 at 12:30]
 
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Old 02-01-01, 10:14 PM
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I'm glad you brought this up Stephen, because I was kind of wondering about that too. So tell me guys...as long as I don't cut above the solid piece of framing (you were right OldGuy, it sounds like it's about 2" thick), with good blades and the jig, do I still need to worry about splintering - and should I score it first, before I make the actual cut?

Thanks,
Mary
 
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Old 02-01-01, 11:07 PM
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Small Job Service, cutting luan has always been an SOB (Silly Old Board). The jig, by itself, will REDUCE the amount of splintering. My solution has been to do it in 2 cuts with the saw. (Always use a sharp AB tooth blade). First pass just nicks the surface of the door, barely putting a saw kerf in it. (You should be able to see 2 lines -- the left teeth and the right teeth.) The second pass is full depth. Neither pass is done with any speed. Then touch the cut edge with a finishing sander at about a 45 degree angle. Spintering is really minimized.
 
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