Checked and updated on January 17, 2021 by Aaron Barnett
The best way to stop a door from jamming is to use a hand, or an electric Makia hand planer to cleanly plane the wood in the area that is catching. Sand-paper can take too long and can cause an uneven finish. Make sure you’re planning, a bit more off than what is needed, this will allow for the thickness of a new coat of paint.
Fixing your door that isn’t shutting properly is an easy DIY job really that won’t take long to finish. So why does a timber door start to jamb anyway? In wintertime, the humidity and change of temperatures can cause the wood to expand. The higher the doors’ timber moister content, the more the wood swell’s, This movement happens from season to season.
Timber joinery has this maintenance disadvantage compared to having, for example, aluminum joinery. Aluminum doors and windows have much less movement over winter.
Yes, even metals expand and contract with different temperatures, but aluminum does not swell and hold moister like timber can. That is why it is common for wooden joinery to catch sometimes in cold winters or change of seasons.
By-the-way like I said above fixing a jamming door is an easy DIY job, anyone can do it, so there is no need to get a builder in to fix this for you, read below:
If your door is jamming on the bottom edge, or on the “sill”, there are two recommended ways of fixing this annoying catch.
It is better to take the door off the hinges and to use a planner. If however, you do not have a plane, you could use a skill saw with a straight edge. Just make sure you have a sharp blade, and you apply tape on the back edge of the cut to avoid chipping.
Although if you cannot remove the door because of the hinges, or because the door is to heavy for you to lift, you could consider using a multi-tool while the door is in place. Even though you can do this, there are a few disadvantages with this method as below:
How to take a door off its hinges
A standard door will have 3 hinges holding the door to the frame. First, check that the hinges are secured to the frame and the door. If the hinges are not tight to the framing, this could be a simple fix for the jamb. If that is not the fix continues to take the door off:
Many external doors cannot be removed by removing a pin, but instead, the hinges will have to be unscrewed instead.
Instead, trim the bottom of the door with a multi-tool
If the door is catching on the bottom and you can’t remove the door easily from the hinges you could instead, use a multi-tool to trim the under-side of the door to stop it catching.
How to fix a door that won’t close on the sides
If your door is jamming on either the top, or sides it is easy to fix with a hand, or electric planer. Fixing a jamb that is catching on the top, or sides, won’t require you to remove the door from the frame.
For small door catches, it is best to use a hand planer. Start by gliding the hand planer by only taking off a thin sliver of wood at a time. Continue to open, and shut the door to check that you are planing in the right area, this avoids over planing.
Do however allow more of a gap than what initially stops the door from catching. This is because the smooth timber from a planned edge is less likely to catch and jamb. But when you put on a fresh coat of paint this can cause the door to stick again
You need to make sure the door will not touch the frame with a few layers of paint on, and also allow a bit more space for any future timber movement.
Have a read of my best woodworking chisel recommendations here.
Electric hand planer
An electric hand plane instead has an advantage when you need to plane the entire edge, rather than just one spot. An electric planer can take an even sliver off timber while keeping a straight even line.
For finishing work like this, a cordless planer is easier to use than a corded model.
An electric plane is the best way really to fix a door from jamming really. If you don’t have one yet these tools, electric hand planners have heaps of building and DIY uses.
Using a plane is the best way to fix a door from jamming. Hopefully, you can quickly use a hand planer on the area that is catching and fix the annoying catch. When you remove the unwanted timber you should re-apply some paint after a light sand with your random orbit sander.
For internal doors, the underside of the door doesn’t necessarily need to be pained, but for exterior doors, I recommend getting a few coats on to weather seal the timber and to stop the door from absorbing any further moister causing the door to swell again.
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