How to Install Header & Foot Bolts on French Doors

Written by paul massey
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How to Install Header & Foot Bolts on French Doors
(Burke/Triolo Productions/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

There are several style options for French door header and foot slide bolts, both surface-mounted and inset, as well as many finishes to complement various decors. Although the inset type is slightly more expensive and more complicated to install, this type combines ease of use with a higher level of quality and overall security.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Hammer
  • Nail set
  • Tape measure
  • Sawhorses
  • Utility knife
  • Inset slide bolt set and hardware
  • Wood mallet
  • Wood chisel
  • Electric drill
  • Metal or wood drill bit

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  1. 1

    Open the French doors. Remove the passive door (the side without the lockset) by pulling out the hinge pins. You can raise a hinge pin for removal by placing a nail set against the bottom of the pin and tapping it lightly with a hammer to push the pin upward.

  2. 2

    Set the door vertically with the hinge side on the floor and secure it against a sawhorse or bench with clamps. The door should be held stable for installation of the slide bolts.

  3. 3

    Use the template supplied with the top slide bolt to mark the cutting outline on the top and strike edge of the door. Use a utility knife to score the cut line marked with the template. Score a minimum of 1/8-inch deep to penetrate the surface of the door’s wood veneer.

  4. 4

    With a sharp wood chisel and wood mallet, begin to score the outline of the notch to be cut for the slide bolt mechanism. This notch is typically about one inch deep and ¾-wide over the length of the slide bolt’s surface flange. Remove only a small amount of wood with each chisel pass to prevent over-cutting or chipping the door’s surface.

  5. 5

    Pre-position the slide bolt occasionally to gauge your progress and so you do not remove more wood than necessary for the bolt mechanism to slide freely. Make sure to leave sufficient wood at either end of the bolt flange to accommodate the attachment screws.

  6. 6

    When the notch is complete, install the slide bold per the manufacturer’s instructions.

  7. 7

    Repeat Steps 3 through 6 for the foot bolt assembly.

  8. 8

    Rehang the door, making certain that both top and bottom slide bolts are fully retracted before closing it.

  9. 9

    With the door closed, push the top slide bolt gently against the top jamb and mark the centre of the bolt.

  10. 10

    Repeat Step 9 for the bottom slide bolt.

  11. 11

    Use the size of drill bit specified in the slide bolt installation instructions to drill the holes for the metal bolt “cups” supplied. These cups insert into the top jamb and sill to hold the slide bolts when fully extended for locking the door. The cups should fit snugly into the drilled holes. If the doors have a metal sill, only the hole will need to be drilled and a centre punch should be used to accurately position the hole.

  12. 12

    With the door closed and both slide bolts in the locked position, check the adjoining door for proper closure.

Tips and warnings

  • For the best results, use a sharp chisel that is the same width as the slide bolt notch.

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