Brooklyn Mortise Locks
Mortise locks are a very popular and old design, which has stood the test of time. They are strong and they are reliable. They are also relatively diverse in their construction. A detailed explanation of the lock installation process would not be useful for all brands and models of mortise locks, but a general overview can be found in the “How They Work” section. Because of their longevity, it is also important to know how to service the locks and ﬁnd what might be wrong with them. With their unique modular construction, the lock can be taken apart and reassembled which makes it possible to save the history that some of these locks hold inside. Their faculties also lend them toward particular usages. Once you learn the diﬀerences between mortise and other locks, you may ﬁnd yourself feeling more secure. And you may also ﬁnd yourself in want of better protection.
Mortise locks are widely used in commercial spaces because of their strength and reliability. The components for each model and brand will vary slightly, but the design of the mortise is meant to withstand use and abuse. Mortise locks lend themselves to high use and are ideal for business and buildings that have very heavy foot traﬃc. The internal mechanisms are also designed to be easily replaceable and serviceable, which comes in handy for new homeowners. Components have solid metal construction, large springs and are built out of hardy materials. After an extended period of commercial or home use, the locks will need to either be replaced fully or in parts. For homes, the amount of use will most likely not begin to aﬀect the lock’s usability until generations have past or severe weather has rusted or weakened the components. Most mortise locks found in old homes are original to the house, and because of the lock’s longevity they can most likely continue to function for decades to come.
How They Work
Mortises have diﬀerent internal workings than the standard bored cylindrical lock. A bored cylindrical lock is more common on residential doors and is easily identiﬁable with the lock cylinder installed inside the handle or knob. What is harder to see with the naked eye, is that the latch bolt in these commonplace locks attaches to the framework of the lock. And it is not as simple as the preassembled lock that may also be used for commercial use. The mortise is an accumulation of many diﬀerent pieces that must be placed into a pocket (also known as a mortise) in the door. A preassembled lock will also ﬁt into a notch in the door, but a mortise must be assembled around the pocket. The parts of the lock are:
- Lock Body – The housing for the bolt work, which are the components that will disengage and engage the lock.
- Handle/Knobs – The device that you will turn in order to retract the latch once the door is unlocked.
- Through Spindle – This long rod that connects the handles/knobs through the door and mortise lock body.
- Lock Cylinder – A threaded cylinder that will secure through the door into the lock body, so that when a key is inserted the door will unlock. A mortise lock cylinder will have a cam, which is a rotating rectangular piece of metal that manipulates the handle’s ability to retract the latch.
- Strike Plate – This metal ﬁxture is fastened onto the doorway to line up with the latch bolt and potential deadbolt that reside in the lock body of the mortise.
Additional features include:
- Escutcheon Plates – Also known as rose plates, these fasten on either side of the door to create a sense of cohesion around the lock cylinder and handle.
- Hard Collars – This is a metal protective ring that spins on the lock cylinder. By spinning freely, a pipe wrench (or other tool) cannot be used to pry out the cylinder.
- Faceplate – The faceplate covers the internal systems of the lock’s housing parallel to the strike plate, but on the door itself. Sometimes the face plate on a mortise lock will be separate and other times it will be pre ﬁtted to the lock body.
- Day/Night Switch – This switch will lock the door from the outside and keep it unlocked on the inside or engage to keep both sides unlocked.
By looking at the bolt work inside of the lock body, you can see that the mechanisms are larger. And by simply holding the parts you can feel their weight. The size and weight allow the lock to withstand more use. There will be two holes in the lock body. One is for the spindle and the other is for the cylinder. These holes will be diﬀerent sizes (the larger most often being for the cylinder). The body will be placed into a pocket that has been cut into the door. Then the cylinder will thread into the lock body, through the door, and the knobs will thread onto the spindle. The spindle will have been ﬁt through the door and lock body before the knobs are threaded. Turning the key in the cylinder will rotate a cam on the back of the cylinder and unlock the latch. From here the handle or knob will retract the latch, or in some cases the key will need to be used to fully retract the latch, and the handle will exist only to retract the unlocked latch.