Shaving a Door with Sandpaper – What Do You Need to Know

You may have noticed your door has been scraping the floor lately. You may have installed a new carpet in your house, and the door won’t smoothly swing over the carpet. In some situations, the door simply refuses to shut. There are several tricks one can employ to free the door. In some instances, the door must be removed, while simple sanding will do the trick in others.

In our article today, we take a stricter look into how shaving a door with sandpaper is done. We explore how sanding can be creatively employed to give you the best results as far as shaving a door goes. We will look into the steps one should follow when sanding a door and the advantages sanding has over planning or sawing.

Why should you shave a door?

As the word suggests, shaving a door simply means removing excess wood from a door. Removing a little bit of wood from the door can be at the bottom, the top, or the lock side. Shaving can be done relatively quickly and cheaply depending on your tools and the extent of repair required on the door. Here is why you need to shave a door.

  1. When the door scraps the floor
  2. The door won’t close at all
  3. A new carpet has been installed
  4. New door might turn out to be bigger than the frame or
  5. You may want to resize an old door
  6. The door is not square with the frame

Steps to take when shaving door with sandpaper

Doors will fail to close for several reasons, some of which are easy to solve while others are quite complex. Before you can think of sanding the door or interfering with it in any way, evaluate it closely to confirm that it is not a problem you could handle differently. Sometimes, you might find it’s a small obstruction, like a toothpick at the bottom of the door. So here are the steps to take when shaving the door by sanding it;

1) Take measurements

Before you embark on a sanding or sawing mission, it is imperative that you take measurements first. You should note the door and frame measurements to know what and where the problem is. By taking measurements, you might discover that the hinges were loose, and all that is needed is to tighten them.

When taking the measurements, take the width at the top and at the bottom. Record the length at the hinges side as well as the lock side. This way, you will know where exactly the problem lies. Taking the measurements also helps you plan for your next step.

2) Remove the door

This step is necessary if the door won’t close or if it’s scraping the floor or the top frame. Removing the door should be easy since you needn’t remove the hinges. The pin holding the hinge together can be knocked with a long nail or a center punch and a hammer. Have someone hold the door to prevent it from falling off upon removing the hinge pins.

3) Shave the door

Hold the door with a vice to prevent it from moving about while you work. Sand the door, starting with the coarse paper. The sanding principle applies here too, where you start with the coarsest sandpaper, go down to the finer paper, and finish off with the finest paper. You can start with a P60 and go down to 100-150 grit before finishing with a 180-220 grip paper.

When shaving a door with hand sandpaper, remember that it will take some minutes to complete the job. The job takes a much shorter time if done with a sanding machine. While sanding, go along the grain of the wood. This way, your work will be easier, and the appeal of the wood will be accentuated.

Depending on the door edge you are shaving, measurements on the frame are critical to adhere to. If you want the door to swing over a new carpet, take note of the thickness of the carpet and leave some allowance for the door to swing freely. If sanding the top edge of the door, leave a gap of 2 mm.

How to shave the door without removing it

It is possible to trim a door to allow it close and open without further obstruction while it is still upright. This trick can be applied on all edges of the door except for the one where the hinges are.

1) Sanding the base of the door

If you have installed a new carpet or if the door is scrapping the floor, it is possible to sand the lower part of the door without removing it. The simplest technique is to slide 80-grit sandpaper under the door, grit the side up, and swing the back and forth. Start by looking for a gap where the sandpaper can slide through and move it towards the area scraping the floor.

Once the sandpaper is in place, swing the door back and forth until you are satisfied adequate shaving has been done. After moving the door a few times, you should remove the paper to check whether enough wood has been sanded to allow the door to swing freely. If there is difficulty moving the door, you can use finer grit sandpaper.

The shaved wood from the door might not be adequate to allow the door swing to be desired. In this case, you should slide a magazine page under the sandpaper to elevate it so as to have better contact with the door. If the door has been sanded to the desired size, you should slip another page under the sandpaper until you are satisfied the door is sanded to the intended size.

2) Sanding the top of the door

Shaving the top side of the door that is getting stuck is easy but not as sanding the bottom end. Here, you will need to put a stool next to the wall so that when the door opens fully, it can’t touch the wall. Put a ladder on the other side of the door so it is wedged between the stool and the ladder.

Once you are atop the ladder, start sanding the door. This technique requires that you test the door after sanding every few times; you don’t want to over-trim the door. The recommended allowance between the top frame and the door is 4 mm.

3) Shaving the door’s vertical edge

This is not very tough to solve. The part of the door that refuses to close can be marked with a pen. Firmly push the door against the door frame, and using a pen, mark a line on the door to show you what excess door wood should be shaved off.

You should sand the entire length of the door edge rather than a single area until the line drawn using a pen is reached. Eat away the excess wood gradually as you test whether the door can fit every so often. This trick will only work if the lock area is not the one obstructing the door from closing. If the lock is the one with the issue, then it needs to be removed and repaired. The other point to note is that you should sand a fiberglass or metal door.

Important tips to note about sanding a door

  • If, after sanding the door, it is still scrapping or not locking, it is time to consider an alternative solution. Check whether the door and the frame are square. If not, consider chiseling off some piece of wood from the frame to allow the affected hinge to fit in the frame and give the door some extra room.
  • There are instances when the screws are loose, and they may be causing the door to sag or move, making it scrap the floor or fail to close at all. If the screws are not tight, tighten them, and your problem will be solved.
  • The hinge screws may be loose and unable to hold the door’s weight, causing the hinge to move out of position. This is mainly caused by age or improper fitting of the screws. Look for a toothpick or a match stick. Apply wood glue on the toothpick and insert it in the screw hole before inserting and tightening the screw with a screwdriver.
  • There are times when sanding might be the ideal option. There are situations and times when planning, re-installing, replacing, or changing the hinges to the door will solve the problem. It is, therefore, imperative that you consider the available options first before you can take the sanding-the-door route.


Shaving the door with sandpaper is one of the options one can consider taking instead of haggling on where to find a professional carpenter. You don’t require high-end carpentry skills to fix your door with sandpaper.

All you need is to know where the problem is and buy a few wood sandpapers to fix the problem. After reading this article, you have learned the various ways and tricks of using sandpaper to shave off excess wood on a door. You will also discover that even though time-consuming, it is way cheaper than most available options.