Have you ever attempted to make a home repair only to get into the middle of it and feel you're over your head? The details can be overwhelming.
The purpose of this column will be to address challenges that are common to all of us that own a home and have to perform various repair or maintenance issues from time to time. I hope it will be helpful to those in the community that either by necessity or by desire, perform their own task as do-it-yourselfers. I will draw from my training and experience in the building and remodeling world and from time to time refer to one of many friends and associates from within the building industry that have expertise in certain areas to address issues important to our neighbors. So, if you have a specific home building, remodeling, repair or maintenance question for a challenge you are planning or experiencing, email your question to and we will address it.
I will address a common challenge that can be encountered when one needs to change a door lock. One fine weekend, you say to yourself, “this would be a good day to change that oil' lock”, so you run down to the home improvement store and grab a new lockset and before you know it your back home struggling to rip open that plastic container that engulfs the new lock as if it were a see through tomb welded shut. Finally you clear the new lockset from its former entrapment only to discover that the new lock doesn't match the size of the older version. In older homes, it can be common to find that the hole diameter of the original lockset is smaller than the hole needed for the new lock. The challenge is how to drill the hole slightly larger and offset when there is no solid wood for which the center bit can take hold.
One method to overcome this is to clamp a narrow piece of plywood to the face of the door, centered over the original hole. Making the plywood approximately 12 inches long allows you to install one clamp above the hole and one clamp below the hole to maintain a secure hold for the bit while drilling.
The new lockset provides a paper template to help you align the center of the new hole. Just follow the instructions of how to position the template along the edge of the door and tape it firmly to the face of the plywood. The template also tells you what diameter of hole saw you will need to use to drill the new hole. The most common size is 2 1/8 inches.
If you have a new lockset but can't find the paper template, you can use a small square to find the center of the door knob hole on the horizontal plane and most locksets have either a 1 3/8 inch backset or a 1 3/4 inch backset. Backset is the distance from the edge of the door to the center of the door knob hole in the vertical plane.
Many strike bolts are adjustable from 1 3/8 inch to the 1 3/4 inch backset by either rotating the shaft of the strike bolt or flipping a small metal tab on the back of the strike bolt.
I hope this helps you if this is the task you have chosen to undertake on your weekend off because I would hate for you to try to stuff that new lock back into its original package.
Hint: If the screw holes in the edge of your door or in the side jamb of the frame, holding the strike plate, has become too worn out to properly hold a screw; you can use a common toothpick to fill the old holes, breaking the toothpick off flush with the surface, this will provide new wood stock for the screws to take hold.
JD Norris is the owner/operator of DreamMaker Bath&Kitchen and a certified S.C. Master Builder, certified “Aging in Place” Specialist and certified Green Professional.