Mortice lock description

13th May 2017

Well hello, I seem to have found a small window in amongst the never-ending elections in order to pen a new blog. Don't worry, I'll be staying well away from the politics today - after various referendums, elections both sides of the Atlantic, and the recent local and mayoral elections, I'd be quite happy never to see another party election broadcast ever again. The only "strong and stable" you'll hear from me will only relate to any locks I recommend you have fitted, and I promise not to bang on about it as often as some people do. 

So, after telling you what I'm not going to be talking to you about, what am I actually going to talk about? The answer, excitingly and perhaps unsurprisingly, is locks. I'm going to look in more details at various types of locks I fit, fix, or come across in my daily work. This month I'll be focussing on mortice locks.

Identifying mortice locks

Mortice locks are a common feature in homes around the country. Although the development of UPVC doors with their own cylinder locks took over from them in popularity, mortice locks can still be found in many homes and  buildings all across the country and have even been making something of a comeback in the construction of newer homes, valued perhaps surprisingly for their higher security. 

The locks get their name due to the mortise(a chiselled away section) that has to be cut into the door to fit the lock case. This lock case is usually in the form of a lever lock, although with the advent of the popular cylinder locks, these too can be combined with the mortice housing. Therefore, you will usually find that mortice locks are broken down into 2 categories - the lever mortice and the cylinder mortice.

In the lever mortice, when a key is inserted into the lock, a series of levers will be raised to a variety of heights (depending on the unique design of the key) and if they all reach the correct height, the bolt can then be unlocked or locked. If any of the heights do not match up (for instance if the wrong key has been put in the lock) then the key cannot turn and the bolt will remain in place. For added security more levers can be added, and so you may hear of various types of lever mortice locks - a 2 lever, 3 lever, 5 lever, 6 lever or 7 lever, though 7 lever locks are more commonly found in gun cabinets and safes. As a rule of thumb, the higher the number, the more secure the system.

What are cylinder mortice locks?

In the cylinder mortice locks, as the name implies, a cylinder is used to lock and unlock the bolt rather than a series of levers. The most popular of these locks is the Euro-cylinder locks.  These locks had the drawback of being easily "snapped" by burglars, but there are now many antisnap varieties of these locks available which do not have this weakness. 

Installing a lever or cylinder mortice lock where one does not already exist requires cutting into a door to create a space to fit the casing. Although this procedure would slightly weaken a timber door, this is outweighed by the greater security provided by the lock. Through being built into the actual door, a mortice lock is able to accommodate a heavier, sturdier mechanism.

There are various sorts of mortice locks available - the lever and cylinder locks as I have mentioned, and you may hear terms such as Mortice deadlock, Mortice sashlock, Mortice Deadbolt, Mortice Euro Lock and more. The important thing to remember is what distinguishes a mortice lock from non-mortice locks  is the actual pocket that the lock sits in within the door. With this in place, a variety of different locks can be fitted, and they will then usually be described as a "Mortice" style lock. I my opinion mortice locks give a fantastic level of security and especially a British Standard with a 20mm throw bolt. 

As a locksmith, I am of course able to fit a wide variety of locks including the mortice models so please don't hesitate to give me a call if you are interested.  As ever, for advice on anything lock-related, to enquire about repairs or replacements, or to get me to look over your existing security arrangements, call 01266 399067 for any Barnsley locksmith services required.



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