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About a month ago, I was talking with a friend of mine who's a police officer.  We were talking about a number of things in regards to home security, and he mentioned that in most burglaries, the thief just kicks in the door - no problem - because door frames tend to be pretty wimpy.  He also mentioned that door frames that were reinforced with a strip of metal were immensely harder to kick in ... and I immediately starting thinking about making my own.

Most residential doors are pretty "soft" - i.e. easy to get through.  There are a number of videos on YouTube where you can see someone almost casually kick in a door - and when you understand the actual support structure around most locks and deadbolts, it's pretty obvious why this is the case.  While you might have an awesome deadbolt that resists picking and lock-bumping, the only thing REALLY keeping your door closed is a relatively thin strip of wood (probably pine) and maybe some trim - i.e. the relatively thin door jamb. 

This instructable covers one possible technique for making a door frame nearly impervious to being kicked in.  I want to admit right off the bat that this design is overkill - lol.  I have a tendency to over-engineer things and this project was no exception.  If I were to do it again, I'd be looking at using 16GA or thinner metal (1/16") as opposed to the 10GA (1/8") metal I used - it would be easier to work with and still very strong.

I also want to mention that there are commercial products out there that do the same thing - but why BUY what you can MAKE when you can make it better? :)  I was also able to make the door reinforcement for about half what a much thinner commercial product would have cost (not including time, of course) - total cost was around $22.

What you'll need:

Supplies:
Metal strip - I used a 2" x 48" strip of 10GA 304 stainless steel.  I'd recommend 16 GA (which should be even cheaper)
Heavy-duty screws - 4" long (I used hardened decking screws with Torx heads)

Tools:
Assorted metal files, hammer, cold-chisel, drill, bits, countersink, sander, sanding belts or sandpaper, measuring tape and/or rule, center punch, scribe, welder, metal saw (reciprocating, abrasive, whatever works) and it would be nice to have Dykem and/or permanent markers.

Step 1: Dimensions and Layout

The first thing to do is check how much of a gap you have on the "knob-side" of the door.  If you've got the room, you might be able to install the strip on top of the wood, but if the gap is a little tighter (around 1/8") you're probably going to have to inlet the surface of the jamb.   I had plenty of room, so I opted to go with a surface-mounted installation.

Next, check how wide of a strip you need.  I used a 2" wide strip, but you'll want to make sure that you won't have too much overhang if you go with that dimension.  The 2" wide strip was *just* about the right size - I could mash it back against the weatherstrip and get the front edge just flush with the face of the door frame. The commercial units run around 1 1/2", which doesn't seem wide enough to me (another reason to build your own)

Once you have your material, it's time to transfer the locations of your lock and deadbolt catches.  Since these catches are usually kind of "tuned" during install, and mine were set up pretty much exactly where I'd want them, I decided that the best technique to get the dimensions would be to scrub-trace them, and save myself a lot of hassle trying to measure it all out.  If you use this technique, be *sure* to get the edge of the door frame as a reference since it's the distance between the front of the frame and the front edge of the catch-plate that determine how tightly your door closes (or doesn't close).

Step 2: Fabrication

The first thing I did was to bend the end of the strip over to 90 degrees with a roughly 1/2" radius.  It did surprise me that this required a torch - which is one more reason I'd suggest going with thinner material.  I fabricated the two "catch ramps" by cutting just where the arc started, at the middle of the arc, and just where it ended - giving me two pieces to weld on.  These cuts were made with a hacksaw ... and a good amount of effort - lol.

Next on the agenda were the holes.  These were cut in the time-tested tradition of drilling a bunch of holes and beating the center out.  Hey, it works :)  A little time spent with a file cleaned the holes up nicely.  The process took maybe 20 minutes.

At this point, the catch ramps were tacked in place, adjusted to make sure they were aligned, and welded on.  After the piece cooled (I didn't quench the metal because I didn't want to take a chance at hardening it) I used a file and an angle grinder to smooth down the welds and give some shape to the edges of the catch ramps.  Once everything was smooth, I sanded the surface with an orbital sander to unify the surface texture and smooth out any dips.  I marked two lines down the strip - the first 1/2" from the back edge, the second 1-1/8" from the back edge.  I then marked the position of screw holes about every 6" on alternating lines along the length of the strip.  The holes need to be alternating so that you avoid creating a stress line (that might cause a split) in the wood you'll be anchoring to.

Drilling holes and countersinking the holes is self-explanatory - but a good tip is to use cutting oil when doing so.  Steel is SO much easier to drill and work with cutting oil - your bits will cut faster, cleaner, cooler and stay sharp longer.  I usually have a little plastic scoop where I put about half a teaspoon of oil and dip the drill bit two or three times during the drilling/countersinking process.  This seems a lot cleaner and less wasteful than dribbling oil on the surface and having 90% of it end up in the wrong place.

Final finish was done with a belt sander with a 180-grit belt.  I found that moving quickly from one end to the other worked the best as slower movement gave an uneven finish.  When I say moving quickly, I was probably covering the whole length of the strip in 4 or 5 seconds.

Step 3: Installation and Additional Suggestions

Installation was surprisingly quick - but then I wasn't insetting the plate so that helped.  First, leaving the original catch plates in place, I positioned the new strip to make sure the front edges of the holes aligned with the edges of the original catch plates.  Once in position, I sunk a temporary screw to hold it in position, and closed the door to make sure that everything lined up and operated smoothly.  Once operation was confirmed, I removed the original catch plates and re-installed the strip.  I worked from the center of the strip out to the ends.  I used a Vix bit to make sure I was drilling the center of the hole, and followed up with a 3" deep pilot hole.  You want to drill pilot holes even with "self-tapping" screws to avoid creating any kind of splitting stress in the wood you're anchoring to.  I also drilled the holes just slightly canted toward the center of the frame just to make sure that the screws were going into the "meat" of the frame member.  It's not necessary to crank down on these screws - just get them to go flush with the plate and you're done - any more than that and you can bow the door jamb.

Other thoughts:

So now that you've fixed the first glaring weakness of your door, it's time to look at the next weak link in the chain which is going to be the hinge-side of the door.  Fortunately, the hinge-side is pretty easy to reinforce.  All you need to do is take one screw out of each leaf of the hinges - both on the frame side and door side and replace the relatively short screws with something beefier and longer - 4" screws are great for the frame-side, and 2" for the door-side.  You only need to replace one screw per leaf - any more than that is really overkill and you're increasing the risk of splitting the door (and remember: drill pilot holes!)

If you have a wooden door, you might also want to consider installing a deadbolt shroud.  This will keep your door from splitting open around the lock when subjected to ... uh.... "unnatural" forces.
 
Thanks for reading :) ... and if you think it fits the description, vote for this instructable in the INDESTRUCTIBLES contest :)
<p>Looking to use this build on a friend's door, does the metal extend the entire length of the frame?</p>
No, it's not really necessary - it just needs to be strong and long enough to keep the jamb from being splintered. The rail I put in is 36&quot; long with some pretty stout screws holding it in place. The bigger danger at this point is that the lockset would pivot under force and split out the door - but that's where the NightLock comes into play ;)<br><br>http://www.ebay.com/itm/Door-Barricade-Brace-The-NIGHTLOCK-Security-Lock-BRUSHED-NICKEL-FINISH-/161603961825?hash=item25a058c3e1:g:Hq0AAOxy4dNS7P~7
<p>Nicely done 'ible!</p><p>I'm curious to know why you bought 2 48&quot; pieces of metal strip. It seems to me that one would have been sufficient. On the lock side of the door, you are essentially reinforcing the jamb to ensure that the lock bolt doesn't break through the jamb. In your example, a single 48&quot; piece would have done this.</p><p>What am I missing? If it's important, you should add it to your ible.</p><p>Thanks for a well done article.</p>
<p>lol - I'm glad you liked the 'ible :) I bought two pieces because I ended up making reinforcements for two doors - I should add that tidbit of information :) Since making this, I've also reinforced the door around the deadbolt with a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Prime-Line-Products-9553-Reinforce-Stainless/dp/B000OFUE52/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1456757922&sr=8-2&keywords=door+reinforcement">shroud similar to this one on Amazon</a>. This helps keep the deadbolt from ripping out of the door.</p>
<p>Very nice! I'd love your feedback on my solid steel door jam Instructable, new today. I think it's a nice complement to hardening the hinges and door jamb.</p><p>https://www.instructables.com/id/Solid-steel-door-jam-or-brace-for-security/</p>
<p>Sad you can't legally booby trap your own door. I can think of 100 ways to make a door more secure. All of which would result in pain and suffering to the bad guys. Having grown up in Italy, I've seen some crazy combinations of door locks. It's not uncommon for people to have 4 or more deadbolts, each keyed different. There are huge numbers of house break-ins. </p>
Great way to protect the frame, but in my experience, it is generally the door that breaks first. The door will split and the the lock mechanism will just twist out. A metal plate over the lock mechanism on both sides of the door, secured with bolts through the door are an easy way to prevent the door from splitting. Reinforcing both door and frame should make for a very secure entrance.
Thanks for the tip :)<br> <br> I agree with you 100% - which is why I did install a lock shroud on my deadbolt (I should probably add that to the instructable) as well as a &quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Nightlock-Security-Lock-Door-Barricade/dp/B007Y7PVLK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368191194&sr=8-1&keywords=nightlock" rel="nofollow">Nightlock</a>&quot; which in combination with the other pieces makes this a pretty &quot;hard&quot; door.&nbsp; At this point, the door itself is pretty much the weak link - but it's head and shoulders above the &quot;average&quot; residential door.<br>
Thanks the &quot;coolant well&quot; tip - I've done that when drilling through glass, but haven't used it on metal. I tend to use the slowest speed I can get when working with metals - and thanks , too, for pointing that out as I failed to mention it.<br> <br> When you had your unwelcome visitors, did the <em>jamb</em> blow out, or the frame?<br> <br> There are two basic ways to reinforce the hinge side - the first is to substitute one long, heavy duty screw for one of the standard screws in each of the leaves of the hinges. The frame-side screws need to be pretty long IMO - 4&quot; is good, in the door, something around 2&quot; to 2-1/2&quot;.&nbsp; The reason you need fairly long screws on the frame side of things is that it can (depending on how accurately the frame was built)&nbsp; take almost 1-1/2&quot; of screw length before you actually hit the studs of the wall - you will typically go through the jamb (3/4&quot;) then &quot;airspace&quot; (sometimes as much as 3/4&quot;) before hitting studs.&nbsp;<br> <br> The second way to reinforce the hinge side of the door frame is with straps that screw through the jamb into the frame and wrap around the back of the hinge to keep the jamb from blowing out. As you might imagine, these are not the easiest things to install since they will have to be inlet into the jamb, as well as needing the trim removed, slotted, and reinstalled.&nbsp; Personally, I think the long screws do a pretty good job.<br> <br> While I think this door frame reinforcement is a good start, I realize it has it's shortcomings ..... which is where a door bar comes in handy :)
Nice job, You didn't choose the easiest steel to work with either, a tip I found for coolant with a drill press is to make a 'well' from plasticine/modelling material etc around the drilling area and fill this with oil/cutting fluid - on stainless use a slow drilling speed so as to reduce heat, as you probably know that stainless steel 'work hardens' with drilling, hammering and bending... now what can we do to strengthen the frame around those hinges, thats the other weak point - it was when I had unwelcome visitors! the 40 year old door resisted damage, it was the two year old frame which failed.
Fantastic piece, looks store-bought and expensive. Definitely something to add to the list of things to do once I have a house.
Thanks :)&nbsp;&nbsp; If you're anything like me, that's going to be a loooong list - lol
FANTASTIC work! Looks wonderful! Have you tested it yet? ;)
LOL - Not really - just kind of put my shoulder into it - but it didn't yield at all :) ... now to retrofit the OTHER two doors in the house :)
Great idea! I am also a believer of home safety. And I totally agree with you, most of this pre-hung doors that are easy to install do not seem strong enough to protect a family from a break in.
I faved and when the vote button is up I will vote! Nice job!

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