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yet another fhayashi home improvement node.

I learned about mortise locks this weekend.

I bought a house a few months ago - this is our first house. The lady that lived there before us had lived there for 50 years... The house was built around 1910, so some things were really, really old. Other things had been redone within the last 50 years...

Among other things, I've removed wallpaper and repainted the walls. We had the upstairs bathroom redone by a contractor, and he's going to do the basement next.

The upstairs was looking pretty good, but the doors needed work - specifically, the door knob and the mechanism that has the latch was looking worn out. The latch was noisy, the knob was loose, and the whole thing looked bad. It may have been shiny brass at one point, but now it's was ugly brown metal.

My wife and I swung by Home Depot Friday evening, and we picked up 4 door knobs/locking mechanisms. When I got home, I proceeded to take apart the old door knob and locking/latching mechanism. Big surprise. Almost all modern doors have the holes for the door knob/latch mechanism part pre-drilled, and it's fairly straightforward to put the new knob/latch mechanism right in. But my door was old. So old that back when they made this door, the standard knob/latch mechanism was a mortise lock.

Unlike the modern door mechanisms that is compact and fits in a ~3" diameter hole, with the latch sticking out from a ~1" diameter hole, mortise locks fit into a big mortise cut into the edge of the door, and the knob and keys enter from two ~1" diameter holes on the sides of the doors. If you can visualize my descriptions, it is obvious that a new knob/latch mechanism will not fit into a door from which a mortise lock had been removed.

Happily, I noticed all this before I opened the blister pack containing the replacement door mechanisms. So we returned the unused mechanisms. My wife found replacement mortise locks not too far away from the other door mechanism. Once I had the proper mortise locks, it wasn't so hard to replace the old mechanism. I had to do some chiseling in the door and door frame to make everything fit, but now I have shiny, smooth-operating mortise locks in my interior doors. I rather liked the chiseling, since I was able to actually use the chisels I had bought when I was contemplating a hobby in wood working before I got re-addicted to computer games.. (a pox on Diablo 2!)

Except for one more bedroom door I have to do.... and I just noticed that I need to get two more for the closet doors... except I think we bought the last four of these mortise locks at Home Depot... argh!

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