How to latch a swinging door?
October 30, 2012 7:24 PM   Subscribe

What do you call a deadbolt with two levers?

I have an interior door that is hinged to swing freely in both directions, and I'd like to keep it that way. I would also like to have the option of latching the door closed so that it serves as an impediment to my cats when I want to corral them in one section of the house, but retain the ability for a primate on either side of the door to readily unlatch and open it. It seems to me that what I want is a deadbolt with no lock cylinder, just a lever on each side. I know this exists, but I do not know how to search for it. Is there a standard name for this thing? Do you know who sells one? I saw one recently installed in a house that was made by Baldwin, but cheaper stuff would be good to know about too.

The door is solid wood and has never been cut for any hardware, currently you just push on it from either side to open. The frame is likewise unblemished and ready for modification. I'd prefer something relatively unobtrusive that's hard to mistake for a regular doorknob. It could be installed on any edge of the door, though the top or side would be preferable (the floor will be renovated soon and I'd rather not have to redo a floor-mounted strike.)
posted by contraption to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
It seems like a regular doorknob would do the trick if the spring is tight enough, but maybe your cats are wizards. This came up when I searched for 'double thumb deadbolt,' and the description sounds right, but the picture doesn't.

You could get a regular deadbolt that's keyed on one side and just leave the key in all the time.
posted by echo target at 7:43 PM on October 30, 2012

A bit of googling seems to indicate you might want to look for "interior" and/or "keyless" deadbolts, although there are plenty of false positives there.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:48 PM on October 30, 2012

To clarify, the reason a standard doorknob won't work isn't that my cats have opposable thumbs, but that a standard spring-loaded latch would engage anytime the door passed through the frame (in one direction, in the other direction it would just bash into the frame and leave a dent unless you carefully kept the knob turned as you pushed it through.) This is a door that swings freely past the frame in both directions, and I would like to retain that functionality.
posted by contraption at 7:49 PM on October 30, 2012

Honestly I'm not seeing anything sold this way. I kind of wonder if you bought 2 of the normal kind if you couldn't cobble them together into a single unit with just latches but I'd have to take one apart to be able to tell.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:52 PM on October 30, 2012

(Ah, I see. So a doorknob without any spring-return would also work, at least in concept?)

This lock describes itself with “Lock accepts any standard mortise cylinder or thumbturn from either or both sides”, so I assume you could put a thumbturn on both sides.
posted by hattifattener at 7:55 PM on October 30, 2012

Googling for "double thumbturn" and "thumbturn both sides" turns up a few things that look about right, too.
posted by hattifattener at 7:58 PM on October 30, 2012

What do you call a deadbolt with two levers?

A stuck key. Could you just solder the key into the lock?
posted by carsonb at 8:22 PM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

How about a Ball Catch? The description there says it's for closet doors, but it looks like you could put one either on the top of the door or on the side and it'd operate as desired. (It might not be a strong enough latch, though: your cat could learn to charge the door and break it open.)
posted by spacewrench at 10:03 PM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Master Magnetics Two-Way Door Latch Magnet has a 50-lb pull strength.

Or you could try placing several strong magnets along the door's edge to hold it closed. Hopefully, the cats won't figure out to body slam the door.
posted by JujuB at 10:59 PM on October 30, 2012

I would like the door to continue to swing freely through the frame (i.e. door starts out opened into room A and can be pushed right through into room B without mechanical interference during normal operation.) The latch or bolt is something I'd like to manually engage and disengage from either side of the door, without use of a key. A keyed lock with the key left in would functionally accomplish what I want, but is aesthetically suboptimal. A standard doorknob with its latch somehow desprung would again do what I'm looking for mechanically, but I'm concerned that it would invite people to turn the knob as they open the door, leading to the bolt getting extended when it shouldn't be. Using the thumbturns from two standard deadbolts is a nonstarter since the interior and exterior sides have entirely different plates, with the exterior side featuring molded-in pillars with threaded holes and the interior side having holes for screws that attach to those pillars through the door.

"Thumbturn" does seem to be the magic search term I should have been using instead of "lever," but it looks like there really isn't a lot of choice out there. echo_target's link in the first comment led me to this, which seems like the best/cheapest option so far.
posted by contraption at 11:54 PM on October 30, 2012

You can get door handles that lock the latch back into the door when the handle is oriented straight up so that it would swing freely in both directions. When you pull the handle down to horizontal the door latch engages. You can open them from either side. Lowes sells them, or did a while ago.
posted by fshgrl at 12:42 AM on October 31, 2012

If you're feeling handy, you could make a simple slide lock with a couple pieces of dowel (3/8" and 5/8") and a drill and a chisel. Drill a 3/4" hole about 3" deep into the edge of the door, insert a 2 3/4" piece of 5/8" dowel so that the end of the dowel is flush with the edge of the door. This will be your plunger. Then drill a 7/16" hole through the face of the door about 2 inches from the edge, straight through through the middle of the larger dowel. This will be one end of the handle slide slot. Then remove the large dowel, and halfway between the first 7/16" hole and the edge of the door, drill a second 7/16" hole. Use the chisel (or a dremel) to create a slot with the two 7/16" holes as the endpoints, on both sides of the door. Drill a properly-aligned 3/4" hole in the door frame to match up with the hole in the door. Cut a piece of 3/8" dowel that's about twice the thickness of the door. Insert the large dowel into the hole, and affix the small dowel in the hole in the large dowel using some wood glue.

This is, of course, the hackish and cheap and probably not as attractive solution, but if you're looking for a cheap answer and are handy with tools, there you go. :->
posted by jferg at 6:57 AM on October 31, 2012

PS> You could cut the small dowel shorter and/or replace it with two cabinet pulls to make it a little more attractive.
posted by jferg at 7:30 AM on October 31, 2012

jferg, the dowel-based solution you describe is actually the first thing I thought of doing. After noticing the Baldwin setup in a house I was working on, though, I got interested in a more proper latching mechanism. I like the cabinet knob addition, though, it might be just the touch of class the thing needs.
posted by contraption at 9:06 AM on October 31, 2012

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