Types of Locks

There are only two types of locks for doors - Rim Locks and Mortise LocksRim locks are mounted on the outside or rim of the door while Mortise locks are mortised into the door. Rim locks are often called Box locks because the box or body of the lock is seen mounted on the door.

Any Lock will have at least two bolts, one that operates against a spring and another that is thrown by a key. A Lock that has a single bolt thrown by a key is called a dead bolt. The bolt will stay or is dead in a position until a key operates against it. A lock that has only a bolt that operates against a spring is called a latch or latch bolt.

A rim lock, mortise lock, or a latch bolt can also have a third bolt called a night latch which is operated by hand from the inside of the door and is not accessible from the outside of the door.

Hand of doors

One confusing aspect of locks is whether one needs a right hand or a left hand lock. Wrought iron Rim Locks were almost always (I can't say always, because every time one thinks that they have this stuff figured out, an exception comes along) either right hand or left hand. I have always found it easiest to use the following formula - stand on the side of the door that you can see the barrel of the hinges. If the lock is on the right side of the door (hinges on the left) you need a right hand lock, if the lock is on the left side of the door (hinges on the right) you need a left hand lock.

Parts of Lock

This photo will help you talk about the different parts of a lock:


Screw Guns are a no-no!

Unless you are very skilled with a screw gun or drill and can set the torque correctly, there is a good chance that you will break cast iron hardware when mounting.  We recommend using a regular hand screw driver.  All the screws that we include are slotted as that was what was used at the time. 

Brass, Bronze, or whatever

How can one tell if they have brass, bronze, or rose brass hardware? One can't! The difference in brass and bronze for the purpose of hardware is basically in the final color of the alloy. Brass is a mixture of copper and zinc with small amounts of tin and lead added. Bronze is a mixture of copper and tin with small amounts of zinc and lead added. Usually, but not always, brass will have a yellow color and bronze will have a more rose color.
When working with the time line, brass was used almost exclusively prior to 1870. From 1870 to 1900 bronze was used to make much of the decorative hardware. After 1900, both brass and bronze were used.

Steel Doors

Most of the time you will find fitting antique hardware to new steel door is not worth the effort.  Most steel doors have a steel edge so mortise locks can't be cut into the doors.  There is seldom enough wood in a steel door to securely attach a rim lock.