One of the critical elements of our front door and vestibule project is the various hardware that is installed on or around the door. We've already covered our ongoing mail slot saga, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.

In addition to the mail slot we've got the knocker, peephole, hinges, deadbolt, escutcheon, doorknob and lockset, and transom window lift...and that's just on the main door. The french doors will also need hinges, knobs, rosettes, escutcheons, a slide bold and a rim lock. It's amazing how much hardware is necessary between these two doors.

While we've covered much of the main door hardware in previous posts, I've only just touched on the rim lock. The rim lock we're using is a little bit of an oddball scenario.

If you didn't see it previously in our post recapping our home inspection, the doorknob and lock set on our old front door was "the only thing about our house" Wendy didn't want to change when we moved in. We've stuck to this over the years, stripping, replacing, and renovating almost every single thing in the house except for this lock.

While this lock is not historically accurate to the time period of our house or front door, and I've long suspected that it is actually a reproduction and not antique, it is still the item that Wendy enjoyed and appreciated in a house that she otherwise didn't really love on day one. And as such, the stipulation that occurred while we were working on this vestibule project was that we had to ensure, no matter what door we chose, our doorknob and lock had to work on it.

Simple enough, right? Wait, is anything in our house simple enough?

In this case we got very lucky. The door we chose has two cross pieces that happened to be pretty much the perfect width for our lock. We determined that we would be able to install it in a way that would work with both the interior and exterior of the door, and it would look almost right.

I say "almost" because there is really nothing we can do to make the lock really look correct. It is a colonial style lock, sometimes called a "carpenter's" lock. The look and function of this lock is actually far more indicative of the late 18th century to early 19th century, not typical of an urban location of the 1880s. What would actually be "correct" is an Eastlake style cast iron or brass Lock set and knobs, most likely a mortised set. Something more like this:

But still, even with this knowledge, we're going with our lock.

Last weekend, while working on the install for the lock, I decided to do a little bit o' Googling to see if I could find any info on our lock. I started searching around for reproduction colonial rim locks. Google's an amazing thing as I actually found the brochure for the very lock we own. It seems Baldwin has been manufacturing this reproduction lock that has been altered slightly to work with a modern key. Though it is a reproduction, the interior of the lock is made with the same materials and methods of the good old days of rim locks. The only difference is the piece that allows unlock with a tail piece to lock or unlock the device. After you remove the back of the lock, this is what you see.

See the springs and levers for operation? All still the same as if you opened an authentic antique lock. I was shocked to see the price. Our lock is probably over 30 years old, installed in the 1970s, but this same lock and knob combo is still going for over $600 in many places. But its solid construction means it should easily withstand the test of time.

Committed to the lock we already had, I moved forward on fitting it for our new door. The first thing I had to do was locate the lock where it will ultimately live so that I could mark all of the holes that would need to be drilled. Since the lock is somewhat heavy, I used two clamps to secure it, one on the body and one supporting just below. 

I then used the screws for the lock to mark the locations for the pilot holes by pushing the screws into the wood. I also marked the hole location for the knob spindle by pushing and turning it through the hole.

Once the various holes were marked, I removed the lock and drilled pilot holes for the screws and full holes for the items that go through the door. I clamped a bit of spare wood to the back of the door to make sure I wouldn't cause any splinters when the bits I was using came through the other side.

Then I test fit the lock with all items attached. It looks good and I'm happy with how it turned out.

I did make one error that has luckily proven minor, but could have been major. When I marked the hole for the lock cylinder, I forgot the area I marked was not the center point of the hole, but a bit lower. I didn't accommodate for this and used the marked location as a true center point. I got lucky that there was a little play in the hole for the cylinder, and the tail of the cylinder can accommodate a minor height change. Otherwise I would have been filling and regrouping that hole. Ugh.

In all, I'm happy with our reproduction and not historically accurate lock and knob. I don't know why it doesn't really bother me more, because I think it really should. The fact that it was an original part of the house that we liked when we bought it, even though it wasn't a truly original element, is what has ultimately sold me. Well, that and the fact that any lock we would buy that has a functional and modern key and cylinder would be both a reproduction and ridiculously expensive, tends to put my mind at ease.

What do you think of our choice? Should we have gone the more authentic reproduction route, or are we good to go?

Comments 7


8/18/2011 at 10:31 AM
I think it looks great! I figure that even old houses would have been a mish mash of old and new parts - I'm sure even back then people had to find ways to save money! A used lock here, a door from a different house here, etc.
Thanks Ashley! For some reason I'm totally attached to this hardware, period appropriate or not.

By the way, I love your house. It reminds me of the farmhouse featured on season three of Sarah's House. Beautiful!
Tiffany Washington
8/18/2011 at 1:38 PM
love your lock! actually, we're doing the Baldwin Brass reproduction of it for our front door as well. This certainly beats the Eastlake look any day!
8/18/2011 at 2:37 PM
I think we have the same lock! A former owner of our house told me that she bought it while on a trip to Williamsburg one year. The next owner of the house drilled the front door for a modern lockset, but left the rimlock in place, so now it looks like we have two front doorknobs. ==sigh==
Old Town Home
8/18/2011 at 8:33 PM
Thanks Tiffany! We can't wait to see how your front door turns out too.
Old Town Home
8/18/2011 at 10:43 PM
Oh, Tiffany, if you're looking for a good place to buy the Baldwin Rim Lock, check out West End Lumber in Cleveland, they have some of the better prices that we were able to find on it while we were looking for a related part.
Tiffany Washington
8/19/2011 at 8:18 AM
Thanks so much. We break ground next week and I will keep you updated!
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