How to Remove an Old Mortise Lock

Written by david brown
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How to Remove an Old Mortise Lock
A mortise lock. (wohnungstür (2) image by fuxart from

Mortise locksets are installed in a recess, or mortise, cut in the edge of the door. Removing a mortise lock is a relatively straightforward procedure, but care must be taken if you are to avoid damage to the door. The lockset is held in place with two screws that attach the lock's faceplate to the edge of the door; but removing these two screws alone won't free the lock from the door. The doorknob and axle assembly must be removed as well, and although they are separate from the lock itself, you may want to remove the decorative escutcheons beneath the doorknobs.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Utility knife
  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers

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  1. 1

    Remove the doorknob by fully removing the setscrew at the base of one knob. You can then remove this knob by turning it counterclockwise and unscrewing it from the axle. After the first knob is removed, pull the other one out with the axle still attached.

  2. 2

    Remove the two screws attaching the lock faceplate to the edge of the door. If the screw heads are encrusted with paint, use the utility knife to dig the paint out of the screw slot.

  3. 3

    Use the knife to scribe a line around the perimeter of the lock faceplate. This is an important step, as most old locks are glued in place with many layers of paint.

  4. 4

    Remove the escutcheons by scribing around them with the knife, then removing the attaching screws.

  5. 5

    Remove the lock from the door by either inserting the screwdriver in the axlel hole, and pulling forward, or by grabbing the lock's bolt with pliers and pulling.

Tips and warnings

  • On newer mortise locks, the knob may be attached with an Allen head set screw.

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