I was recently putting down some hardwood flooring in my living room and had to work around some doors jambs and other tight spots. I remember using an oscillating multi-tool on the jambs with my dad a few years back when we had to install tiles in his basement, so I wanted to write up a quick guide on cutting door jambs with an oscillating tool.
Here is an easy to follow step by step:
- Clean and wipe the area you want to work in.
- Place a piece of the material you are cutting the door jamb to make room for in its location.
- Hook your blade on your oscillating tool.
- Place the blade flat on the surface.
- Begin cutting the door jamb and slowly working your blade around the entire area you want to cut.
- Keep your hand steady and the blade flat.
- Use a crowbar to get all the little pieces of door jamb out.
- Vacuum afterward.
Using a multi-tool to cut door jambs makes a lot of sense because it’s quick and effective. Plus, you don’t really need to be handy with tools to figure it out! Of course, if you don’t have an oscillating tool or can’t afford one, I have included an additional method you can try out.
Read below to find out the details on how you can cut door jambs using a multi-tool, the materials you need, and other more cost-friendly methods you can use.
How Oscillating Tools Work
Oscillating tools, also known as multi-tools because of the various blades you can fix on them, do just that… they oscillate.
If you’ve been to barbershop recently you may have seen one of their razors, I have a cheap one at home, but the mechanism works the same way. The razor moves from side to side cutting your hair.
An oscillating saw works on the same principle, but unlike your barber’s razor, a multi-tool will cut through wood, tile, and tile grout, as well as metal and cement, as long as you use the right blade.
The oscillation degree is very slight, with the standard model moving no more than 3 degrees or so. This prevents the blade from jamming and burning out your tool. The movement is extremely fast going at a pace of around 20,000 strokes per minute! That’s faster than a honeybee, that only clocks in at 13,800 flaps per minute.
Choosing the Right Blade for an Oscillating Tool or Multi-tool
Before you start cutting door jambs or start any other project with the multi-tool, you want to make sure you have the right blade for the job. Otherwise, you risk damaging your saw and ruining the material you are cutting.
You want to consider two things:
- The blade’s material
- Rounded vs. straight blade
Oscillating tools support a number of blades, including some that cut cement and metal. You could get a nice collection of blades, but if your wife is anything like mine, she probably doesn’t want 64 steel saws added to your garage collection of tools you never use.
Instead, go for individual blades.
I always use Porter-Cable because it’s the brand of the multi-tool I use plus their blades have written what each one is for in bold while letters. So look for something that says “wood” on it for your door jambs as long as your door jambs are wood.
A carbon steel blade is your best bet. You could go with stainless steel or another material, but the blades can be too thick and heavy, which is something you want to avoid when working with tight spots.
Rounded vs Straight
So this largely depends on what you feel comfortable with and the job you’re doing.
Straight blades are great when you need to stab through the material you are cutting, whereas rounded saws are excellent for longer cuts.
Honestly, with a door jamb, it really doesn’t matter. With a rounded blade, you can work around the wood at a slow and precise rate, and a straight saw is great because it gives you more freedom to jerk against the jamb.
Try both or don’t! Either will work just fine as long as it is meant for wood.
To cut through your door jambs, you will need:
- An oscillating saw (I always use the Porter-Cable PCC710B 20V MAX. It comes with 11 accessories and a two-finger tool-free system where you can just attach and detach blades quickly. Plus, it’s super reliable and portable. Just make sure you get the lithium-ion battery as well.)
- A straight carbon steel blade or a rounded carbon steel wood saw
- A piece of the material you are going to lay against the door jamb (hardwood, tile, decorative element, etc…)
- Pencil or marker
- A crowbar
- Vacuum cleaner or duster
- Protective goggles, face mask, and work gloves.
That’s pretty much it people nothing else, seriously it’s super easy, just a bit expensive that’s all, but if you already have the equipment check out the step by step directions below.
Step-by-Step Instructions to Cut Door Jambs with an Oscillating Tool
There are two main reasons you would want to cut door jambs, so we are going to focus on those. One is to get hardwood or tile underneath, and the other is to fix some decorative elements along the seem. Now I’d be lying if I said I have done the latter, but the principle is the same so bear with me.
Before you start, make sure you put on protective goggles, a face mask, and thick work gloves.
- Start by wiping the area you are going to cut your wood. You want to make sure there is no dust or gunk on the door jamb or the floor around it because your measurements and cut need to be precise, so you have a clean finish.
- Now, I was installing hardwood flooring, so I cut a small piece of the wood and used that, but you can do the same with a whole piece of tile or the decorative element you are going to use. For tile and hardwood, place the piece topside down. You want the surface to be against the floor, so you don’t damage it while cutting.
- Hook the blade you want to use on your oscillating tool. While it doesn’t matter if the blade is straight or rounded, you want something that drops down-ward from its base holder so the blade can be flat against the floor, and your multi-tool doesn’t interfere.
- Place your blade flat on the backside of your hardwood or tile and turn on your oscillation tool.
- Begin cutting your door jamb by slowly moving the blade towards the wood while your saw is flat on the surface. Start on the outside and move inwards.
- Make sure you get everything and that you aren’t jerking your hand up or down. This can cause imperfections in the cut and your blade to jam.
- Use a crowbar to get rid of all the little wooden piece you cut out.
- Finally, clean the area up with a vacuum to get rid of all wood dust before you place your hardwood or tile to check if the cut was accurate.
If you are cutting a spot for decoration like a square medallion or whatever, put the piece in your desired area against the door jamb and using a pencil mark the edges. Then just follow all the steps above except don’t lean your blade against the decoration. Instead, let the pencil marking guide your cut.
That’s pretty much it! Now you’re ready to install your tiles or laminate flooring instead of cutting out individual pieces of wood and tile you can just use an oscillating tool on your door jambs.
Alternative Methods of Cutting Door Jambs
If you don’t really have tools at home, buying an expensive multi-tool, battery pack, and blades isn’t the best way to go about this, especially if you only have to work around a door or two.
The good news is you can use a flush-cut handsaw to get the job done. I recommend the Stanley FatMax reversing Backsaw. This is a great tool because the blade drops down from the handle, letting you get in-between your flooring and the door jamb, but it also flips around at the click of a button so you can get both sides of the door.
You pretty much do the same process as described above just with a handsaw, but it’s going to take a while… no joke.
There you have it an easy and quick way to cut your door jambs. Whether you are installing hardwood flooring, new tiles, or want to perk up your house a little with some decorative elements, definitely go with a high-quality oscillating tool and some carbon steel blades to cut through wooden door jambs.