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Repair a Sticking or Binding Door

Most doors that stick or bind, especially wooden doors, are caused by one or more of the following conditions:

  • Paint buildup
  • Thermal expansion
  • Swelling
  • Loose hinges
  • Structure of door loosens; rails and stiles

Normally, there should be a uniform gap around the door, usually 1/8 - 1/16. The door should close smoothly and easily, latch firmly, and remain closed. Carefully observe the door as it operates and note where the binding or rubbing occurs. Does the binding appear to be at the top and/or bottom of the door only or on the hinge and/or latch side of the door only?

Table 1 lists some common problems with sticking or binding doors and possible corrective actions to take.

Table 1: Sticking/Binding Door Repair Problems and Solutions

Common Problem

Possible Correction

Paint buildup

  • Even binding on latch side and head

Thermal expansion

Carefully remove paint with scrapper. If too difficult with a scrapper, carefully use a heat gun or chemical removers.

For this repair, the door needs to be removed and planed. This should be done when the door is expanded; usually occurs during the most humid part of the season.

Loose hinge (upper/lower) or worn pin

  • Binding along the top on the latch side or binding on the floor.

Loose hinges (upper or lower).

  • Observe the hinge after opening it slightly. Push in toward the top and pull up on the door handle (upper hinge). If it moves, the hinge is loose. Do the reverse for the lower hinge.
  • Try and tighten the screws without stripping them. If they cannot be tightened or are stripped, try a longer screw. When using a longer screw, make sure that the head of the screw will fit inside the countersink in the hinge or it will nullify what you are trying to accomplish.
  • If longer screws are not feasible, remove the hinge and drill out the existing hole and insert a glued dowel into the hole, let dry, and re-drill a new hole. Reinstall the hinge.

Worn hinge pin.

  • Observe the hinge while pushing the door up and down. If the hinge knuckle moves but the hinge does not, the pin is worn. Depending on the condition of the pin or knuckle, the pin and/or the entire hinge may need replacing.

Foundation or building settling

  • A gap on the latch side of the head jamb or the door drags on the floor or vise versa.

If the gap is at the top of the door:

  • Check for square at jambs and head.
  • If gap is small enough so that you cannot see into the other room, remove door and plane bottom.
  • If gap is large enough so that you can see into the other room, the doorframe must be rebuilt.

If the gap is at the bottom of the door:

  • As above, check for square.

If not square, the doorframe must be rebuilt.

Door Repair

Safety Precautions:

  • Use Safety glasses

Tools Required:

  • 2 x 6 provided by instructor
  • Screwdriver
  • Portable drill
  • Dowels
  • Wood glue

Steps to repairing a door:

  1. Check a door for level and plumb to determine what is causing the door to stick and what corrections need to be applied to correct the condition.
  2. Repair a worn screw hole in a doorjamb.

Repairing Drywall

Repairing holes in sheetrock, large or small, requires some of the same basic steps. If the hole is large, but not large enough to make the opening larger by going to the adjacent studs, the hole should be squared off as reasonably as possible.

  1. Using a scrap piece of 1x2 a little larger than the hole, screw the wood to the existing drywall, placing the wood on the inside of the hole and leaving sufficient wood exposed to screw the patch to it.
  2. Cut a patch that is equal to the new holes size, trying not to leave more than 1/8-inch gap all the way around the patch. Screw the drywall patch to the wood supports previously installed.
  3. Using self-adhesive drywall tape, cover the seams around the patch. If you are using paper tape, spread a layer of drywall taping compound over the seams of the patch, and then press the tape into the compound using a 6" taping knife. Apply a topcoat of compound over the tape, pressing out any excess compound.
  4. Allow for drying and applying a second coat of compound using a 12" taping knife, feathering the compound out further.
  5. Let dry and sand to a smooth finish.
  6. Prime and paint.

Figure 1: Repairing a Hole in Drywall

If the hole were large enough to expand it to the existing studs, then supports would be required for the top and bottom portions of the hole.

Drywall Repairs

Safety Precautions:

  • Safety glasses
  • Work gloves

Tools Required

  • Utility knife or hole saw
  • Taping compound
  • Putty knife
  • Sponge block
  • Mud

Steps to repairing drywall:

  1. Repair a small hole in a sheetrock wall.

Installing Door Locks

The two most common types of door locks are the key-in-knob lock (Figure 2 and Figure 3) and the deadbolt (Figure 4). They can be installed in solid or hollow-core doors; however, a hollow-core door offers no security. Most key-in-knob and deadbolt locks purchased are included in a kit containing the lock, the attaching hardware, and a paper template used to mark new doors for the lock. They generally are installed in the same manner. The template is used to ensure correct backset from the door edge, providing the spacing for the latch and centering the latch in the hole in the door edge. The template is not required if the lock is being replaced. Attention must be paid to the location of the keyway. The keyway normally is installed on the exterior of the door. Most new door locks are not designated as either left- or right-handed. Standard sizes are 2 and 3/8 and 2 and 3/4 inches. Some locksets are adjustable between the two sizes.

Figure 2: Key-in-Knob Door Lock

Figure 3: Key-in-Knob Door Lock Parts

Figure 4: Deadbolt

Figure 5 shows a mortise lockset that can be found on many metal doors in large buildings.

Figure 5: Mortise Lockset

Installing a Lock in a New Door

Safety Precautions:

  • Safety glasses

Tools Required:


  1. Mark the door edge approximately 36 inches from the floor. Fold the template along the fold line. Using the template as a guide, mark the door edge with the location for a 1 inch in diameter hole. This is the latch hole. Using the template as a guide, mark the door face with the approximate location for a 2 1/8-inch hole. This will be the cylinder hole.
  2. Drill 1/8-inch pilot holes, as marked in step 1, for both the 1-inch and the 2 1/8-inch holes. Using a hole saw, drill the 2 1/8-inch hole from both sides to avoid splitting the door face. Before drilling the 1-inch hole, mark the center of the strike plate hole in the doorjamb by closing the door. Then, press a 2-inch 6d common nail through the pilot hole from the inside of the 2 1/8 inch hole until the nail makes an indentation in the doorjamb. Open the door and drill the 1-inch hole in the door edge through to the 2 1/8-inch hole. Next, drill a 1-inch hole at the point of the nail strike in the doorjamb to at least 1-inch in depth.
  3. Insert the latch through the hole in the door edge, keeping the latch parallel to the door face. Mark the outline and remove the latch. Chisel a 1/8-inch mortise in the door edge. Check the fit of the latch. Chisel additional depth if the latch face is not flush with the door edge. Install the latch so the latch will slide and lock when the door is closed. Insert and tighten the screws.
  4. Check the center of the strike for alignment with the latch hole on the door to ensure free movement of the latch bolt. Mark the outline of the strike plate centered over the strike hole. Remove the strike plate and chisel a 1/16 inch deep mortise in the doorjamb. Check the fit of the strike plate and remove additional material if the strike plate is not flush with the doorjamb. Align the strike plate, insert screws, and tighten them.
  5. Press the exterior knob/lever (the exterior knob has no visible screws) against the exterior surface of the door, making certain the stems are positioned horizontally so they go through the holes in the latch case. If the door lock has a keyhole, make sure that the keyhole is in a vertical position and the key teeth are facing up.
  6. Install the interior knob/level by placing it on the spindle and aligning the screw holes with the stems. Push it flush against the door and insert the screws. Tighten the screw near the door edge first, and then tighten the other until the lockset is firm. Use caution when installing the lockset on a hollow-core door, as the screws can be tightened enough to break the door faces. Overtightening of the screws will affect the operation of the door lock.

Removing a Door Lock

  1. Determine if the inside doorknob is held in place by a metal tab. If it is, use a screwdriver, press on the tab and remove the inside doorknob.
  2. Determine if the door lock uses a rose. A rose is a piece of metal covering the screws securing the inside and outside of the door lock. Removing the rose will provide access to the screws.
  3. Remove the two machine screws holding the inside knob to the outside.
  4. With the screws removed, pull the outside of the door lock from the latch.
  5. Remove the screws holding the latch faceplate in the door edge.
  6. Pull the latch faceplate and latch from the door. The door is now ready for a new lock.

Types of Locks

A lock, as defined by the International Association of Home Safety and Security Professionals, is: "a device that incorporates a bolt, cam, shackle, or switch in order to secure an object, such as a door, drawer, or machine, to a closed, opened, locked, off, or on position, and that provides a restricted means of releasing the object from that position."

There are various types of locks in use today. The basic types are:

  • Warded locks
  • Combination locks
  • Electric locks
  • Tumbler locks

A warded lock (Figure 6) is a fixed-position projection designed to prevent unauthorized keys from entering or operating the lock. One old type of warded lock comes in a metal case, has a large keyhole, and is operated with a bit key. Warded locks provide little security because wards are easy to bypass with a stiff piece of wire. This is the oldest lock still commonly used. It has a simple design, straightforward internal structure, and an easily duplicated key. The two types of warded locks currently in use are the surface mounted or the mortised lock Figure 7. A mortise is a cavity created to contain something. A mortised lock is installed in a cavity created in the door for the purpose of containing the lock.

Figure 6: Warded Lock

Figure 7: Warded Locks

Combination locks are used as alternatives to key operated locks. The two basic styles are pushbutton and dial.

Pushing a specific sequence of buttons operates pushbutton locks, which usually are labeled with letter or numbers. Rotating one or more dials to specific positions operates dial combination locks.

Electric current operates an electric lock. One type is basically a bolt or bar mechanism that does not have a keyed cylinder, knob, or turn-piece and cannot be operated mechanically. Another type, called an electrified lock, is a modified mechanical lock that can be operated either mechanically or with electricity. Electric switch locks complete and break the electrical current when an authorized key is inserted and turned.

Tumblers are small objects, usually made of metal, that move within a lock cylinder in ways that obstruct a locks operation until an authorized key or combination moves them into alignment.

Lever Tumbler Locks

These locks (Figure 8) are found on luggage, briefcases, and lockers and offer a low level of security. They can easily be defeated with a hairpin, knife, or screwdriver. However, the lever type can also be designed to offer a high degree of security, as with those used for safe-deposit boxes.

This lock requires a standard flat key. When the key is turned, the various key cuts raise the corresponding lever tumblers to the correct height; the gates of the levers align and release the bolt. The bolt stop must pass through the gating from the rear to the front or vice versa, either unlocking or locking the lock.

Figure 8: Lever Lock Tumbler Lock

Disc Tumbler Locks

These locks (Figure 9) are often found on desks, file cabinets, automobile doors, and glove compartments and offer a medium level of security. This type of lock gets its name from the shape of the tumblers. The disc tumblers are steel stampings arranged in slots in the cylinder core. The rectangular hold or cutout in the side of the disc matches a notch on the key bit. The protrusion on the side, known as the hook, locates the spring. The disc stack is arranged with alternating hooks, one on the right side of the lock and one on the left.

Figure 9: Disc Tumbler Lock

When the correct key is inserted and turned, the cuts in the key raise the tumblers high enough to clear the lower cylinder slot but not so high as to enter the upper cylinder slot. The key arranges the tumblers along the upper and lower shear lines, freeing the plug to rotate and throw the bolt.

Pin Tumbler Locks

This type of lock (Figure 10) provides a higher degree of security than other types of tumbler locks, usually medium- to high- security. These locks are used in most homes, high-security padlocks, automobile doors and ignitions, and many types of correctional facility locks. The basic parts of a pin tumbler include the cylinder case, the plug, the keyway, upper pin chambers, lower pin chambers, springs, drivers, and bottom pins.

Figure 10: Pin Tumbler Cylinder

The cylinder case houses all of the other parts of the cylinder. The part that rotates when the proper key is inserted is called the plug. The keyway is the opening in the plug that accepts the key. The drilled holes, usually five or six across the length of the plug, are called lower pin chambers, They each hold a bottom pin. The corresponding drilled holes in the cylinder case directly above the plug are called upper pin chambers; they each hold a spring and a driver.

When a key is not inserted into the cylinder, the downward pressure of the spring drives the drivers partially down into the plug to prevent the plug from being rotated (see Figure 11). Only the lower portions of the drivers are pushed in the plug because the plug holds the bottom pins. When a properly cut key is inserted, it causes the top of all the bottom pins and the bottom of all the drivers to meet at the shear line. When the pins are in this position, the plug is free to rotate to the open position.

Figure 11: Key in Cylinder

Installing Rim Night Latch

  1. At the desired height, bore the hole for the cylinder 1 1/4 inch diameter with the center a distance of 2 3/8 inches from the edge of the door.
  2. Insert the cylinder and ring from the outside of the door and place the backplate on the inside of the door, connecting the backplate with the cylinder by two connecting screws. Cut off screws to the proper length relative to the doors thickness.
  3. Cut off the connecting bar so it projects 3/8 inch beyond the inside of the door.
  4. Place the lock on the door so that the connecting bar enters the slot. Using punched holes as a guide, screw the lock to the door.
  5. Apply the strike to the doorjamb lower than the centerline of the lock to allow for any sag in the door.
  6. Mortise the long lip into the doorjamb and leave the short lip on the surface.

Figure 12: Rim Night Latch Installation

Lock Maintenance

Most locks require little or no maintenance. If a lock is sticking, a little graphite applied to the keyway usually is sufficient to lubricate the inside of the lock.

Removing a Broken Key from a Lock

There are many ways to remove a broken key from a lock. Much of it depends on the type of lock, how much of the key is broken off, and whether or not the door is open.

The tools required range from small needle-nose pliers to a professional key removal kit (Figure 13). The idea is to insert a thin piece of metal so as to be able to remove the broken piece from the cylinder.

Figure 13: Typical Key Extraction Tools

Other more elaborate removal procedures can be used, such as the following.

Figure 14: Key Removal Procedure Using Specialized Tools

In addition to using specialized tools, some simple methods may be applied to try and remove the broken key. A precision drill can be used to drill a small hole in the back of the key so that a spiral key extractor can be inserted into the hole to facilitate removal. In addition, a homemade device made from a small, thin saw blade or spring-steel fashioned to facilitate removal of the broken key.

Remove Broken Key from Lock

Safety Precautions:

  • Safety glasses

Tools Required:

  • Key removal tools
  • Lubricant
  • Coping saw blades (5)

Basic Steps for removing a broken key from a lock:

  1. Remove a broken key from a lock.

Power Tool Safety

Learning to work with power tools safely is one of the most important aspects of building maintenance. In this section, we discussed carpentry, but the basic rules for working with power tools apply to all aspects of building maintenance, as well as working with them at home or off the job.

One of the most important things about power tools is never to use a tool you are unfamiliar with.

  1. Always read and follow all instructions in the manual supplied with the tool.
  2. Have someone with experience using the tool instruct you on its proper use.
  3. Practice with the tool until you are familiar with its operating characteristics.
  4. Never remove a guard or safety feature when using the tool.
  5. Always use the proper tool for the proper job.
  6. When changing blades or bits, always unplug the tool.
  7. Watch where your fingers are at all times.
  8. Always wear the proper safety equipment required for using the tool, e.g., safety glasses, work gloves, face shield, ear plugs, etc.
  9. Never force the tool when cutting or drilling; let the bit or blade do the work.
  10. Keep your tools in good operating condition; never use a defective tool.
  11. Keep your bits and blades sharp.

Steps for Power Tool Safety

Safety Precautions:

  • Ensure power is removed from equipment
  • Use caution around exposed teeth on saw blades
  • Safety glasses

Tools Required:

In order to demonstrate power tool safety, visually inspect the following:

  • Power saws
  • Electric drills