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  • How to Measure & Inset: Full Mortise Locks

    Full Mortise Locks: how to measure & install

    Realize the Benefits and Uses of Full Mortise Locks

    Full Mortise Locks offer the most concealed appearance. Use on drawers and doors. Installation requires, a pocket to be cut in wood, to house lock mechanism. Once installed, all that is visible is a simple, brass rectangular plate, known as the selvedge. Full Mortise Locks are often desired for its minimalist appearance.


    How to measure a full mortise lock

    Drawer Locks

    When using half mortise locks on drawers consider position of keyhole, as it is often off center. When engaged, lock-bolt shoots up into case above drawer. A strike is rarely used.

    Door Locks

    Our full mortise locks work both right-hand and left-hand cabinet doors. Please note: some full mortise locks are not available in both left and right options. When looking for door locks be sure lock is handed according to your needs.

    Doors hinged right - bolt shoots left.

    Doors hinged left - bolt shoots right.

    Desk Locks

    The most used full mortise locks for desks are the popular roll top desk locks. These applications require a trap-door strike with the lock. 


    Measuring Full Mortise Locks

    • Measure your lock before looking for a replacement.
    • Please view diagram right, to determine relevant measurements.
    • The backset measurement, also known as "distance to pin", is the most important measurement. It must match precisely for the lock to lineup with the door/drawer keyhole.
    • The backset is the distance between the selvedge/bolt edge of the lock and the keyhole pin.
    • Once the backset measurement is determined you can look at your various options.
    • Cabinet work may be necessary if potential substitutes have different lock-body or lock-plate measurements. 

    When replacing locks:

    Keyhole location measurement is critical.Replacement lock-keyhole-location must match location of keyhole in furniture.

    To measure: easiest to measure old lock, if you have it:

  • Lock Keyhole Location: distance between selvedge-edge - where bolt shoots through, to lock pin. This measurement is known as the backset.
  • Furniture Keyhole Cutout Location: distance between furniture-edge to estimated location of lock pin in furniture keyhole.


    Determine desired location of lock

    • Adjust position to allow for location of keyhole as it is often off center in lock
    • Lock should be positioned in middle of wood thickness, providing a wood edge around selvedge
    • Mark location of lock-selvedge on door or drawer edge
    • Hold lock-selvedge, at desired location, on wood thickness and trace outline
    • Inspect outline for accuracy , straighten lines where necessary
    • Mortise Selvedge


    • Trace lock-body outline into selvedge-mortise at correct position
    • Cut lock-body-mortise
    • Mortise can be slightly off as selvedge will conceal lock-body once installed.
    • Check lock with mortise, lock should sit in mortise with selvedge flush with wood surface
    • Strikes are rarely use with reproduction full mortise locks. Traditionally a simple mortise was cut in the wood to accept the lock bolt.

    Keyhole Placement

    • Measure distance from top of lock-plate to center of key pin
    • Measure distance from side of lock-plate to center of key pin
    • With these two measurements locate keyhole on furniture front, make sure key pin is aligned with keyhole location
    • Drill small pilot hole at key pin location, hold lock in position and check to make sure hole lines up with key pin
    • Drill hole larger to accommodate key barrel

    Mount Lock

    • Mount lock in a mortised- pocket in wood thickness/edge
    • Selvedge edge should be level with top of drawer or edge of door
    • Attach with wood screws
    • For a finished appearance: mount an  escutcheon/keyhole plate, on furniture front.

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