How to plane a door

Is your cupboard (or other) door scraping against the frame? All you need to fix it is a power plane (the type with a blade, not wings).

You can use a regular manual plane, but why would you? Power tools are fun.

The Problem - Rubbing Door

Here is a photo of my linen cupboard. I’ve circled the problem. The left hand door is scraping the other door. No amount of hinge adjustment or other messing around is going to fix this, we have to modify the door.

Our door is too big

How to Fix it

Step 1. Mark out the door

Grab a ruler and draw a line, marking the amount of wood you want to remove. Note that if it is a hollow core door, there is a limit to how much you can remove. A few millimeters is going to be fine, but don’t start taking huge chunks out. The door pictured is a hollow core door.

I’m removing about 1mm, to keep the gap between the doors as uniform as possible.

marking the door

Step 2. Remove Door

How to do this will vary depending on the type of hinge you have, but it is generally a matter of undoing the hinge screws, while not dropping the door on yourself.

If you are going to drop a door on yourself, try to ensure it is a hollow core door - they weigh far less than a solid core door.

Step 3. Plane the door

Lay the door down so that the face you are planing is flat and easy to run the plane over. Ensure your power plane is set to take off a small amount of material (I went with a 0.2mm setting). This is to reduce the chance of damaging your door.

When you do plane the door, the direction should be from the outside in. When you lift the plane (after shaving some timber off), you should still to be on the door.

Keep planing until you reach the line you made in step 1.

If you run the plane the other way (off the end of the door), you greatly increase the chance of taking chunks out. This means your door will either be destroyed - or just look crap. You would need to use filler to fix it.

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A power plane is an unforgiving tool. It has a very sharp blade that rotates at 16,000 RPM. It is just as happy shaving your leg as it is shaving timber. Wear eye and ear protection, keep kids and pets away - and pay attention at all times.
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plane goes this way

Step 4. Admire your handywork, rehang door

Have a look at your door. Ensure you have taken off the right amount of material. I found that I needed to give the newly planed surface a quick sand with some 150 grit sandpaper to smooth it over a little (I probably need to sharpen my plane more often).

nicely doored

Once you are satisfied, refit the door. Check that it now opens correctly. If not, take it down and go plane some more.

Update: @MaximRouiller informed me that I did not have a picture of the rehung door. Here it is…

rehung door

Step 5. Paint

The final thing to do is repaint the planed edge of the door. Doors are usually painted with a high gloss enamel. If you want to match the paint, get a piece of paint that your plane has taken off, and have it matched at your local paint / hardware store.

Now you know how to fix a scraping door.


How to replace glass door rollers

Don’t let a scraping, dragging door ruin your day. Let’s replace the rollers!

Before you start, clean the track your door runs on. Your door may be scraping or dragging due to being caught on something. Have a good look at the raised ‘rail’ the door roller sits on. If this is worn down too low, you’ll need a whole new door track, not just a replacement roller.

Removing the Door

Assuming the problem is your door roller - the first order of business is to remove the door. If it is a large glass door, it will weigh approximately 1 metric-shit-tonne. If you have help, use it.

Before removing the door, clear a space for it. It sucks to remove the door then realise you have nowhere to put the door down. It’s not a bad idea to put down a blanket to protect your floors. Metal framed doors can have sharp edges, and will happy scratch a deep groove into a timber or bamboo floor.

The actual removal process is fairly easy. Simply lift the door up into the frame - then (while keeping the door suspended in the air), bring the base of the door in towards you, as in the diagram below.

removing the door

Once you have it out, lay the door on the long side. You’ll find a screw. This screw will either be attached directly to the roller assembly, or pulling the door frame tight and clamping the roller assembly in place.

door rollers

Once you remove the screw, the roller assembly should slide out. Examine the roller wheel for wear and dirt. It may be worn down (you will need a new one). After cleaning any dirt out, it should spin freely. If not, you need a new one. If it does spin freely, it may have been sitting too high in the door.

old and new door rollers

If you need a new roller assembly, take the old one to a hardware store, and find the matching replacement part. Keep in mind that your house is missing a door, which will make it pretty easy for thieves - so hurry.

Replacing the roller assembly

Putting the new roller assembly in simply reverses the process. Pay careful attention to how high the roller is sitting before you put the screw back in and tighten.

new door roller

The roller needs to be sticking out the door enough that the door will move freely without scraping. Too high and you won’t be able to get the door back in the frame. In my case, having the rollers protrude 3mm worked perfectly.

What about windows?

Window rollers are replaced exactly the same way - assuming you have modern sliding windows. The only difference is that a window weighs less than a door, so it is easier to lift out.