October 10, 2021

How to Chisel Door Latch Plate | An Easy-to-Follow Step-By-Step Guide

Start by marking the location of the latch on the door jamb to locate the string plate. Use a chisel to route out the marked outline. Remove excess material and drill holes for the handle.


  • Start by installing the lock or lockset onto the door before you start following the instructions.
  • Make sure the door is closed and locate where the lock bolt contacts the door jamb. Mark the exact center of the bolt onto the inside edge of the jamb using a pencil. Use a combination square to transfer the center mark onto the flat strip. That is between the inside edge of the jamb and the doorstop. 
  • Measure and mark a line along the center of the jamb strip, intersecting the line made in the previous step. The center is about 5/16 inches above and below the horizontal centerline. Drill a hole at the line intersection using a spade bit. The drilled hole is for the bolt. For flat-sided deadbolts, drill two overlapping 7/8-inch holes.
  • The strike plate should be on the jamb. To do so, center it on both lines. Score around the plate with a sharp utility knife. Cut a series of parallel lines into the jamb about 1/4 inch apart using a sharp 1-inch-wide chisel. It has to stay within the scored lines and hold the chisel perpendicular to the wood.
  • Remove the waste wood using the chisel, bevel side down, nearly parallel to the jamb. The mortise must be clean, smooth, and flat and at a depth equal to the strike plate’s thickness. Test-fit the plate as you work to check the mortise depth.
  • Drill pilot holes for the strike plate, and fasten it to the jamb with the screws provided.

Remove the door from the frame

You cannot give perfect measurements when the door is still attached. Remove the door by opening it halfway. That allows you to tap two shims between the floor and the door bottom to hold it steady.

Measure up from the finish floor 36 inches and mark the door’s edge. Use a square to extend the mark across the door’s edge. The 36inch Mark is replaceable if you use the height of other knobs in the house.

At times you want to open the door completely.  Remove the screws holding the hinges to the jamb with a drill/driver. Lift the door out of the opening. The hinges should stay on the door. Check the direction by which the door opens for easy installation. You would not want to start afresh after you have attached the latch plate on the wrong side.

Where to place the chisel

The chisel has to be on the scored line, perpendicular to the door, and the bevel side of the chisel facing toward the mortise. 

How to chisel it

Tap the chisel lightly using a hammer. Deepen the scored line and make a series of cuts 1/8” apart and the hinge’s depth along the mortise’s length. Hold the chisel flat and use it to clean the waste, so the mortise is the same depth as the hinge.

The door gas is to be supported so that it does not move during the process. The hinge edge has to face up and measure the positions of the hinges. Mark the top of the upper hinge, the bottom of the lower one, and the other side of the middle one. Measure and make similar marks on the jamb.

One hinge must be on the door’s edge with its top edge on the top mark.  Take time to adjust the hinge so the pin is flush with the door’s surface precisely opposite the doorstop, and trace its outline with a sharp pencil.

Hold the hinge against the side of the door using one surface flush to the edge. Make a line using a pencil. It has to be along the hinge’s other side to mark the mortise’s depth.

Avoid irregular edges and chipping, and hold a chisel parallel to the edge. Tap it into the wood with a hammer to remove a thin shave. Repeat tapping the chisel first until the mortise is deep enough.

Test the hinge and make adjustments with the chisel when necessary. The hinge has to fit.  Chisel out all the other hinge mortises in the same way. Mark the outline of the latch plate accurately as you mark where the strike plate goes on the door jamb. Use lipstick 

Open the door and rub the lipstick onto the latch or deadbolt. Bright red works better. Turn the knob to retract the latch, close the door, then release the knob just enough for the latch to touch the jamb. The results show where you need to mortise in the strike plate. Paint or chalk substitutes for lipstick. At this point, you may start chiseling from the top of the latch plate.

Door latches, mortice, and bathroom locks come with the strike plate, dust socket, and fixings for ease of installation. The metal plate that fits into the door jamb has to be fitted with a dust socket. The latch bolt extends into the hole in the strike plate and holds the door closed. That eases your DIY home improvement projects.

Complete the installation by fitting a dust socket, keep and strike plate. Move the door away from the door jamb and draw vertical and horizontal lines to indicate where the door jamb needs to be chiseled out.

Use your pencil to draw the outer and inner parts of the strike plates. Use the pencil markings to position the strike plate, aligning the top and bottom parts for accuracy. The bottom part of the inner bit of the strike plate should line up with the lowest horizontal mark. You end up having two sketches. 

With your pencil, stencil the outer and inner parts of the strike plate so that you have two sketches on your door jamb. Position the door latch strike plate over the recessed area and secure it to the doorjamb with fixing screws. The drilled holes should be deep enough to accommodate the strike plate. That way, you are finishing off the project. 


In conclusion, after being told how to chisel door latch plates, I think others should be able to follow the steps I described. By following the directions I have laid out, I think you will be able to chisel out the door hinge. It is essential to follow the steps I have laid out.

David D. Hughes

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