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Last edited 10 Mar 2021
|A common lever-type mortice lock in the UK.
A mortice lock (or mortise lock) is a lock that is carved or cut into a pocket on the side of a door or piece of furniture. This type of lock is sometimes used as a second lock for increased security and is commonly found in residential applications.
The mortice lock was commonly used in older buildings in the United States. Two of the country’s early presidents, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison both mentioned mortise locks as their security devices of choice. In 1788, Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Trumbull to request “mortise locks” on a carriage he wanted made to his specifications.
In 1798, James Madison included a reference to the devices (“mortise locks which I accordingly prefer”) in a letter to Jefferson. The letter followed with a review of matters of state. The discussion of locks came before the discussion of politics.
The locking body of a mortice lock is installed in the door, piece of furniture or other object while the box keep is installed in the facing frame. The mortice lock works by projecting its locking device (or lever) into the corresponding space on the facing side of the door frame or other object. A key is often used to operate the bolting mechanism and move it into the locked or unlocked position.
Mortice locks can create a layer of security on top of that which has been provided by standard cylindrical locks. Commonly available in deadlock and sashlock varieties, mortice locks are used in residential and commercial properties throughout the United States and Europe.
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