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Remove a Mortise Lock in Four Easy Steps

Remove a Mortise Lock in Four Easy Steps

If you ever find yourself facing a mortise lock that refuses to budge, not sure how to take it out from the door? It might be because you’re trying to replace your worn-out security lock system or just want to give your door a new appearance. For the removal of a mortise lock can appear a challenging chore for anybody. Nevertheless, never be afraid as a brave homeowner! Fret not, because this all-encompassing tutorial shall arm you with details to approach this task successfully like an expert!

Understanding the Mortise Lock

Before we begin the removal process, let's explain what the mortise lock is, shall we? Unlike the ordinary knob-and-deadbolt combination, it is a more solid and flexible system. It is located in a hole (the mortise) that has been carved out of the door. It is more secure and has a more attractive appearance due to its concealment in many historical houses and applications with increased security.

Types of  Mortise Lock

There are two main types of mortise locks:

Sectional Mortise Lock

This common type features separate components for the lock cylinder (where you insert the key), handles or knobs on both sides, and the main lock body.

Mortise Deadbolt

This variation combines a mortise lock with a deadbolt mechanism for added security.

Gathering Your Tools

Now that you're familiar with the mortise lock, let's assemble your toolkit:


You'll likely need a Phillips head screwdriver for most modern mortise locks, and a flathead screwdriver might come in handy for prying or removing trim plates.


Screws or other parts that are difficult to remove can be gently tapped with a hammer.


To grasp microscopic pieces or unscrew screws that won't come out, pliers may be useful.


A good flashlight will be your friend when navigating the interior of the lock cavity.

Drop Cloth

Placing a drop cloth beneath the door will catch any falling screws or debris.

Steps for Removing the Mortise Lock

Here's a step-by-step breakdown of the removal process:

Open the Door

This might seem obvious, but ensure the door is fully open for better access.

Remove the Handles or Knobs

Usual practice is that sectioned mortise locks have handles or knobs that are fastened on a spindle which passes through the lock body. For the screws that hold the handles, check the trim plates on either side of the door and then remove them. After you have removed the screws and adjusted them to be either tight or loose, remove the handle cautiously.

Address the Trim Plates

The trim plates surround the lock cylinder and handles on both sides of the door. These are usually secured with screws. Locate and remove these screws, taking note of their size and location for reassembly later.

Tackling the Lock Cylinder

After removing the trim plates, you will locate the lock cylinder itself. The lock cylinder is usually held in position by a small set screw in many mortise locks. This screw is frequently situated on the side of the door near where you find the cylinder. To free it, use your screwdriver to loosen the set screw just a little bit.Nevertheless, it should not be entirely removed.

Next article A Guide to Upgrading Your Kitchen Cabinet Door Hinges

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