Installing A Door Lever

Changing over to lever handles from door knobs is an easy project, just follow these simple instructions.

Looking to spruce up your door hardware? Are you looking at those old doorknobs and beginning to cringe at the sight? Well how about nice French door handles or levers? They add that little something to the interior of your home.

This hardware can be found at any Home Improvement Center and they have a variety of styles from simple lever latch to ornate scrolls and from brass finish to wrought iron. The change over is simple and I will walk you through the process. You will be amazed at how easy of a project it is.

Now, the only tools that you will need are a couple of screwdrivers, Blade and Phillips, as you may encounter both types of screw heads depending on when the original knob assembly's were installed, a utility knife, and small sharp wood chisel. If you have a small battery powered screwdriver with an assortment of blades that will work just as well.



The holes in the door for the knobs/latch/levers are fairly uniform, the most common size is a two (2) inch hole for the handle units and a one (1) inch hole for the latch mechanism itself.

To begin, remove the knob assembly by removing the two screws holding the unit together, you may have to use a few turns at a time as they length of the screws sometimes causes a binding on one if the other is extracted further. In removal, you can also just hold the two sides of the unit together with one hand as you remove the screws; this lessens the tension binding on the screws. Either way will work as well as the other.

Next, remove the latch mechanism by removing the two screws in the edge of the door and slipping the mechanism from the door. If it does not slide out smoothly, you can use a screwdriver in the latch hole visible where the handle was and using a little pressure and the latch plate will unseat from the door edge and the balance of the latch unit will follow with ease.

Fit the latch assembly of the new hardware into the same hole; making sure that the flat side of the latch is facing you when standing on the inside of the door. In some cases the new latch mechanism is a little longer than the one you just removed, an easy fix, just slip the one (1) inch drill through the hole in the edge of the door and continue past the two (2) in hole and drill a relief to accept the new mechanism and allow for it to function. This usually is not more that ½ inch or a little more deep. If, also, the latch plate is a little larger that the old one you can trim the size with the utility knife and/or chisel, mark the amount that has to be trimmed by a cut with the utility knife along the edge of the plate.

Once this is done and the latch mechanism is installed in place you can now install the handle/lever assembly. Always remember when assembling French handles or levers that the lever must be in the direction away from the door frame (casing) and the assembly screws must be on the inside of the door. Simple assembly with only two (2) screws, remember? After you have this full handle/lever and latch assemblies installed in the door close slowly and be sure the latch hits the strike place on the casing in the exact same position as the previous knob. If it does not, then again remove the strike plate, using the one (1) inch drill open the receiver hole and mark where the new strike plate will be mortised into the casing with the blade of your utility knife and trim to fit. You may have to move the screw holes for this unit also, do this by plugging the existing holes with a golf tee cut flush to the casing. Place the new strike plate in your trimmed area and test that it is in proper position for the latch. Once assured that everything is in the right position, pilot drill new holes for the strike plate screws and install.

As I told you it is a simple project and after doing your first one, the rest will go faster as you already have an idea as to how much trimming will be needed. Good luck and be safe, remember when using any tools make sure they are in good working order, no chips in the screwdriver blades or using a dull or worn blade in your utility knife or dull chisel, always cut away from yourself and observe all safety precautions.

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