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Installing a Cylindrical Latchset

- Continued

Locating the Strike Plate

Most boring jigs come with a center marker, which is the quickest way to position a lock strike. The marker is a simple steel cylinder that fits in the latch bore (Figure 3). The sharp point centered on the face makes a dimple on the jamb, which marks the spot to drill for the latch. But this method is not always exact, and I use it only if the strike plate has a thin piece of metal projecting at a right angle from the back of the latch hole. If the latch fits loosely in the strike, this tongue can be bent slightly to snug the door up against the stops.


Figure 3. A center marker works well for quickly locating the lock strike, but is not entirely accurate.

While I use a center marker most of the time, for stain-grade jambs I prefer to install the lockset and use the latch to find the exact location for the strike. Stick a small piece of masking tape on the strike and start by placing the strike over the latch, which should just touch the shoulder of the strike. Use a pencil to mark a line down the face of the strike where it meets the face of the door. Next, shut the door and mark a line on the jamb with the pencil riding the face of the door, then mark the jamb at the horizontal center of the latch (Figure 4). Open the door and extend the horizontal mark across the face of the jamb, then hold the strike centered on that horizontal line. Finally, line up the vertical pencil marks on the strike and the jamb, and trace the outline of the strike on the jamb.



Figure 4. Holding the strike plate over the latch (above, left), the author marks the edge of the door onto a piece of masking tape placed on the back of the strike plate. He then closes the door and marks the centerline of the strike by eye (above, right), extending this line horizontally across the jamb. The author then lines up the vertical line on the tape with the edge of the door, centering the strike hole over the horizontal line (right) to lay out the strike plate mortise

Again, I prefer to use a router and template for the strike mortise — it's cleaner and faster, and it eliminates having to hammer on the jamb, which could change the margin between the jamb and the door. If I've done everything right, the dull "thunk"of the latch falling into the strike just as the door comes up against the stop is sweet.

Gary Katz

is a finish carpenter from Reseda, Calif., and author of
The Door Hanger's Handbook (Taunton Press).