Friday, January 10, 2014

Door Renovations: Everything I never knew about motise locks

One of the first steps in renovating the upstairs doors was determining if the locks were salvageable since there is no point is taking the time removing all of the paint and gunk from the lock if it can't even be used.

I started with the office door and removed the lock.  Once I got through the paint layered on top of the screws -- I strongly recommend an utility knife or razor -- it was easy business unscrewing the two screws and popping out the lock.  But then I was faced with the challenge of figuring out what type of lock it even is.  I Google imaged "antique door locks" and looked at pictures until I found one that looked like my lock (pictured below).  Based on what I saw, the type of lock that we have is a mortise lock.  These locks are installed in all of our interior doors, so it was important to know what to call it.

Main:  Guts of the mortise lock with super glued latch bolt, UT:  Front of the lock, UB: mortise lock case.

Armed with the knowledge of the type of lock installed in our house, my next step was to Google "fixing mortise locks."  Most of the websites I found talked about how to install the locking mechanism into the door and none really went into detail about how to actually fix the lock.  As mentioned in the previous post, when I first opened the office lock, I found the latch bolt broken into two pieces.  I super glued the parts back together and hoped that would be strong enough to fix the lock.

The picture of the guts above is actually incorrect.  After fixing the plunger, I tried to put the lock back together and had quite a bit of difficulty getting all of the pieces to fit together correctly.  In my despair, I started to look online for replacement locks.  I knew that buying a "new" lock was out of the question, so I started with antique hardware websites.  Two websites in particular were very helpful:
Historic Home Hardware was helpful because the owner sells all sorts of refurbished hardware, including mortise locks.  Each lock in his inventory includes pictures with the measurements of the important parts.  This was very helpful because I didn't know what was important to note about my lock.  As a result, I found out that the mortise locks in our home have a non-standard backset of 2-3/8" which means that we cannot buy just any replacement.  I also found out that the size of the casing is important with our casing being much smaller than the standard size.  While there was one set of locks that match mine available to buy, I am glad that I was able to fix the lock.

Historic Houseparts is a website that mixes antique parts with new parts.  I was able to learn the names of the different pieces of the locking mechanism and see how the lock is supposed to fit together.  While Historic Houseparts did not have a replacement lock for me, it did point me in the right direction for some future projects.  I'll definitely be visiting both websites in the future as the renovations progress.

Now that I have working locks, I guess I need to stop procrastinating and get the old paint off of them.  Until next time!

Best wishes!

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