Step 11: Chisel the Mortise.

chiseling out the mortise with a round-tip chisel
Photo: Ryan Benyi
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We upgraded to a lever handle more in keeping with the look of a four-panel door, but its latch required a larger mortise. Trace the outline of the new plate on the edge of the door. Use a rounded chisel and a mallet to cut a mortise, as shown. Screw the hinges back onto the door. Stand the door in the jamb and pin the hinges to rehang it.

Tip: for a clean, rounded mortise, use a -inch drill bit to make a hole inch deep at each corner before chiseling out the rest of the field for the latch plate.
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    Tools List

    • flathead screwdriver
      Flathead screwdriver
    • Phillips screwdriver
      Phillips-head screwdriver
    • combination square
      Combination square
    • framing square
      Framing square
    • miter saw
      Miter saw
    • bar clamps
      Clamps
    • pneumatic finish nailer
      Pneumatic nail gun
    • rounded chisel
      Rounded chisel
    • mallet
      Mallet

    Shopping List

    1-by-1¾-inch poplar nose-and-cove molding Get four 8-footers.

    18-gauge 1-inch nails for pneumatic nail gun

    Wood glue

    Wood putty

    120-grit sandpaper

    Latex primer and paint

    New lockset (optional)

    Note on proportions: A typical interior four-panel door has three equivalent stiles with a matching top rail and a deeper base rail. Mock up simple patterns cut from cardboard to see what size panels will look best on your door.