One of the most common tasks locksmiths are asked to perform are fresh installations of deadbolts, handles, and other door hardware. While the idea of adding a new deadbolt to a door where one does not currently exist may seem like a daunting challenging to the average homeowner for the seasoned professional it is a fairly quick and straightforward task. With that being said without the proper tools and know-how this straightforward job can easily turn into a nightmare for your run of the mill handyman. Hiring a professional locksmith to install any door hardware is one of the best choices you can make. With that being said, how do we do it?
When installing a residential or commercial deadbolt, lever, or knob generally the procedure is very similar for all 3 pieces of hardware. With that being said, different locksmiths may use different techniques, but the principles remain the same. One of the most important things to consider when doing a fresh installation is the backset of any existing locks or the freshly installed lock itself. Backset is the measurement we use to refer to the distance of the lock relative to the edge of the door. Generally, in North America there are two standardized backsets, one typically for residential and one typically for commercial. A “normal” residential backset is 2 3/8” from the edge of the door while a “normal” commercial backset in 2 3/4”. While functionally these two different backsets do not really matter, aesthetically it is important to maintain continuity between hardware that is already installed.
In today’s age it is rare to see any new construction with backsets that fall outside of the “normal” parameters, but that was not always the case. During the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s homebuilders, specifically art-deco style homebuilders, seemed to enjoy incorporating strange and obscure backsets. Take for example a home with the door knob right in the middle of the door, that is an obscure backset. These downright ridiculous backsets come in many different sizes ranging from 3” to 15” to even longer. Once the backset is known the locksmith will either measure the correct size by hand and mark, use a paper template, or use the preferred method which is known as a jig. When using a jig, the locksmith will attach a metal clamp-like device to the door, this device is set to the proper measurements and will stay attached to the door for the majority of the installation process. By using a jig, we are able to achieve uniform and perfect installation every time.
After boring a whole along the backset axis, the locksmith will then create another hole on the edge of the door for the latch or bolt. Using the aforementioned jig, a locksmith can easily make a bore a cross cut whole all the way to the first hole opened up for the backset. After these two initial openings are created, we will then insert a small marking device into the hole created for the latch/bolt, close the door, and firmly push the marking tool into the frame of the door.
We can then remove the marking device and are left with a noticeable imprint on the frame; this imprint will show us exactly where to make an opening for the latch or bolt strike. As soon as the locksmith has drilled an appropriate sized hole to accommodate the latch or bolt strike the finishing work can be done. Generally, finishing work will include the marking, chiseling, and subsequent mortising of the strike plate on the door frame and the latch/bolt face on the door. Chiseling and mortising these parts allow for a seamless aesthetic appearance along the frame and door edge as well as allowing for a smooth operation of the door and lock.
Now that holes are bored and strike plates are mortised the door preparation is complete. Finally, the locksmith can install the new lock and make minor adjustments ensuring that swelling and contracting during different weather does not negatively impact the ability for the new lock to function smoothly. It is also important to note the especially in colder climates adding weatherstripping to a door with a lock that has already been fit can be a severe detriment to the operation of the lock. Often times we find that additional weatherstripping will push against the door misaligning latches and bolts with their respective strikes causing a deadbolt to be difficult to engage or for a latch to no effectively fall into is proper hole. This phenomenon can be easily overcome with adjustments made by a professional locksmith. It is easy to see why some DIYers may consider preparing their own door for a new lockset, but based on all the variables listed above its crucially important that this job be tasked to a professional locksmith.