Fit Doors with Ticking Sticks


A traditional trick used by carpenters can help you fit doors into almost any irregular opening.
By Carl Bilderback
Pages: 48-49

From the November 2010 issue # 186
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Fitting inset doors into a face frame cabinet is a task that even veteran cabinetmakers would rather avoid. Unless the corners of the face frame are perfectly square, and the door’s rails and stiles are straight, the usual procedure is often time consuming and frustrating.

You know the drill: Check all the corners of the face frame with your square, put a straightedge on the door’s rails and stiles to check for any humps or hollows. Typically you discover that the frame has some problems. So you make the door with enough extra length and width to allow for fitting the door to the frame. At this point there are different ways to advance the process, but the bottom line is that with enough trying and fitting with a handplane you end up with a door that fits the frame with a nice equal margin on all four sides – maybe.

Some 25 or 30 years ago I read about a procedure usually used by carpenters called “The Ticking Stick Method” for fitting countertops and the like into spaces with irregular shapes and angles. This method is simplicity itself because it allows for a near-perfect fit using only a stick that has a long taper and a sharp point on one end, a piece of cardboard and a pencil. That’s right – no square, no sliding bevel and no tape measure is required.

Although this article deals with fitting flush cabinet doors to the face frame, this system is adaptable to solve many other problems that you may encounter.

Article: Read Carl Bilderback’s article on how to install a Dutchman.
Web site: Visit the web site of the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association.
Video: Want more explanation of how ticking sticks work? Watch this free video from the editors.
In our store: Our “Cabinetmaking Essentials” DVD will get you started building cabinets.


From the November 2010 issue # 186
Buy this issue now