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How Doorknobs Work

Doorknobs, also called locksets, are classified as having bodies that are either cylindrical or mortise.

Cylindrical Locksets

Cylindrical Lockset    ©HomeTips

A cylindrical lockset has a rounded body that fits into a large hole bored into the door’s face and intersects with the latch bolt, which is inserted in a second, smaller hole drilled into the door’s edge.

Because this type of lockset does not include a security deadbolt, a second independent deadbolt lock must be added to the door if security is important.



Mortise Lockset    ©HomeTips

Mortise Locksets

A mortise lockset has a large, rectangular body that slides into a rectangular pocket (mortise) cut into the door’s edge.

The rectangular body of a mortise lockset contains the workings for the knob or lever handle, latch, and deadbolt.

With a mortise set, the knob is generally interconnected with a deadbolt–unlocking the deadbolt also frees the latch. Lock buttons at the door’s edge engage or disengage the lock.


About Don Vandervort
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Don Vandervort developed his expertise more than 30 years ago as Building Editor for both Sunset Books and Home Magazine. He has written more than 30 home improvement books and countless magazine articles. He appeared regularly on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert. Don founded HomeTips in 1996.

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