Old school way to fix a sticky door - hand planer

2 Tips to fix a door that won’t close properly

There is nothing like having a door that won’t close properly. It leaves you with an unfinished feeling that will nag you until you resolve the problem. When we first moved in, our bedroom door had this issue. It would not close all the way and got hung at the top and one small location on the side. Below is a simple 10 minute (maybe 15 tops) fix that you can use for a situation such as this.

Tip 1: Diagnosis and door adjustment

If you have a problem with a sticky door, I look for one of two signs prior to making any adjustments the physical door. Grab a trusty screw driver (manual not a cordless drill) and open the door. Visually check to see if any of the hinges are out of their indented locations. Make sure the screws are tight.

Many times you will find that a door that does not close properly is due to this kind of situation. Tighten up the screws or and adjust the hinge and you are good to go problem solved. If everything is in check, go to the next section on this page below.

*Note: using a cordless drill many times will over power the screws and strip out the hole. Unless you need to drill a new hold just use a normal human powered screw driver. If you do have a lose screw that won’t tighten, visit a hardware store they have many longer screws that can be used. Tighten up the new screws and that potentially is why your door won’t close properly.

Tip 2: Trimming a door that won’t close

This is a relatively easy process that takes little time. You will need a handy tool called a planer, one that can be found in roughly any hardware store like “Lowes or Home Depot“. A hand planer can be used for smoothing out wood, or shaving off parts of a wood door to make it stick less.

During hotter times of the year, wood tends to expand, so your doors could be harder to open or close. If this is the situation, you should consider using a handheld planer to help you out. This one I am using is from my Grandfather from around the 1930’s. Still works just fine with the original blade. Perfect for this project we have here today.

Vintage hand planer

Trimming a door

Total Time: 15 minutes

Identify where the door won’t close

hard to close interior door

Take a piece of chalk or a crayon and mark the top or side of the door to identify exactly where the door won’t close. This step will help you see the exact location of the problem. Close the door as much as possible, and then open to inspect the door jam. The chalk will be removed from the locations on the door that need to be trimmed.

Preparing your planer

Vintage wood planer

Now that you can see exactly where your issue is on the door, grab your wood planer and a ladder if needed. I had a spot on top and to the side of the door that had a problem. Make sure to inspect the planer prior to using. Sometimes a piece of wood maybe logged in the blade. Clean it up if needed.

Consistent, even, repeatable strokes

using a hand planer

At the top of my door, I identified two small areas that needed trimming. I started at an end that did not need trimming to start this process. You should take long running strokes with even pressure. Don’t try to put your weight into the tool, rather have an even pressure. Let the tool do it’s job.

Never too much

Long even strokes on planing a door

You will feel like you are destroying the door as wood starts to drop to the floor. What you are seeing is normal trimming of your door. It feels odd at first but keep in mind you are removing just a little bit of material with each stroke. Keep at it and periodically see if you are making progress and test to see if the door will close. Keep going and you will fix your door and be able to close it properly.

Paint or Stain/seal

If you have a white door like mine you may need to paint to help seal out any moisture. This will keep this from needing to be done in the summer when the door may swell slightly. Otherwise just seal it up with stain to help maintain the door properly.

It is literally that simple, just a little bit of sweat and you are all finished. We hope this helps you in the future when you come across a small but frustrating problem in your house.

Until next time!

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