Search form

Login - Register | FOLLOW US ON

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Getting out of a jamb with doors is all about geometry

Getting out of a jamb with doors is all about geometry


Even brick and cement buildings shift over time, especially if the cement wasn’t allowed to set properly.
Do you have a door that screeches when you open it? Or do you have to lower your shoulder as if you were in a rugby scrum to get inside your house?

Well, sticky doors all have to do with geometry, and who doesn't love geometry? Circles and triangles, intersecting planes....

But your problem is actually fairly simple. You either have a parallelogram that doesn't fit into a rectangle, or a rectangle that doesn't fit into a parallelogram.

One out of three still bad
Whether it's your front gate or kitchen cupboard, step one is to find out which of the three possible problems you have.

First, open the door and inspect the hinges. Are they loose? Are the screws snug? A lot of the doors in Cambodia are made from heavy tropical hardwood, which puts a lot of pressure on the top hinges in particular.

It's best to have the door in its proper place when attaching hinges; You do not want to "pull" the door into place with the screws.

Look at the gap between the door and the floor near the door frame or jamb. You'll want to make the entire door level with that, which you can do by shimming it with some folded-up cardboard. Lift the door and slide the cardboard underneath, and check to see if the hinge fits in its recess and is flat to the jamb. Now that it's propped up, you can tighten or replace the screws without having to hold the door.

Broken hinges
Is there a broken hinge? Over time, hinges can become worn or misaligned and it's even possible for the pin to break. If you need to replace the hinge, open the door perpendicular to the frame and shim into place as above.

Find a new matching hinge at the hardware store or one of the new building centres on Mao Tse-tung Boulevard and replace the hinge. Be sure that the replacement screws are larger than the old ones.

The second problem could be that the frame has shifted, either on the cabinet or the wall, if your house has settled. Even brick and cement buildings shift over time, especially if the cement wasn't allowed to set properly.

To find out if the frame has shifted, measure as accurately as you can in an "X" from corner to corner. If the measurements are equal, then the frame is "square", the corners are all at 90 degrees and the problem is with the door.

File away
If the frame is not square, then the door may have to be filed down. With a cupboard or cabinet, an uneven surface can cause the face-frame, where the door is set, to shift. You should be able to shim it where it meets the floor, enough to shift the frame square again.

With a frame mounted into a brick wall, it's not so easy; changing a door frame is a major undertaking, so you have to adjust the door. Ideally you would plane the door down, but the planes that are sold here are not very user-friendly, so I suggest using a file.

With a pencil, mark all of the places where the door rubs the jamb on the face of the door. Using a rough file, remove some wood from the area you marked.

See if the door fits. Repeat until you see two millimetres of reveal, or space, between the door and the jamb. Sand the filed area smooth with some sandpaper and then finish with a coat of paint or lacquer.

If it's not the hinges or the frame, then it's the door, obviously, but that's for next week.
If you have any questions about keeping your
house in order or fixing the damage of daily life,
email Jet at



Please, login or register to post a comment