Another lever design is used in high-traffic, but mainly detention applications. In this instance, the lever actually returns into the large escutcheon plate and is interlocked. The plate has a raised, arced slot that the lever end rotates through. (Photo 5)
Most lever locks today are available in a rigid or clutched design. The rigid design lever is fixed in place when the door is locked. It has limited vandal resistance, but is a good choice for many internal doors.
When locked, a clutched lever will move through its intended arc but will not withdraw the latch. The clutched levers usually cost a little more, but are free moving when the door is locked. This free motion is accomplished is one of two ways. In one, a simple clutch separates the locking mechanism, but if the lever is drawn to the end of its arc, continued pressure may cause the lock to be forced open. In a better design, the lever reaches a positive stop or solid fixed block at the end of its travel. Continued force may break the lever handle but will not open the door.
Some lock manufacturers have redesigned their mortise locks to accommodate lever handles. In some mortise locks with lever handles, damage may occur to the spindle but not the lock. Also, forced rotation will not cause the mortise lock to retract the latch bolt.
Other security hardware designed to increase protection from vandals include:
- Hardened Collars – The standard thin trim ring collars for mortise cylinders can be replaced with a solid, hardened steel collar. This prevents the use of a wrench or pliers to twist the cylinder out of the lock body, allowing easy entry by manipulating the inner lock mechanism. (Photo 6)
- Drill Resistance – Some medium and high security locks use anti-drill pins in their lock cylinders. The placement of these pins resist drilling the shear line and/or sidebar. The hardened pins or discs deflect the drill bit or cause it to break. (Photo 7)
- Latch Guards – Latch guards protect the latch or bolt mechanism from attack by covering the area with a thick steel plate. Some offer an interlocking pin that engages with the doorframe, preventing spreading of the door and frame. (Photo 8)
- Cylinder Guards – Cylinder guards cover the cylinder face of a mortise or rim cylinder and may include a hardened spinning plate around the keyway. The cover prevents cylinder wrenching and the hard plate prevents drilling the plug. (Photo 9)
- Strengthened Strike Plates – Heavy-duty strike plates prevent or lessen the possibility of kicking in the door. In most kick attacks the frame breaks away in the area of the latch or bolt. By installing a hardened steel strike plate with long screws the resistance is increased. The longer screws usually must be at least 3.5 inches long to reach into the solid framework of a wood doorframe. The standard strike plate screws only attach at the trim level. (Photo 10)
In addition to vandalism, attempted break-ins and misuse, today's locks seem to take more abuse in general than locks did in years past. People seem in more of a hurry. In addition, having a lever rather than a knob or handle enables the person to use more force when operating the lock. Grabbing the lever, jerking the door open all the way and slamming it closed seem to be the norm. Although we usually think of older products as better made, this is not necessarily the case in all security hardware.
Sure, there are mortise locks and unit locks that are many decades old and are still working fine, but manufacturers in our industry have been designing and introducing better hardware all the time.
When you add in the extreme versatility of electronic products, we are in a position to offer increased security to our customers like never before.
So before you leave that next 'simple rekey' job, think of what products you can offer your customer to increase their level of security at a reasonable cost. Deter or prevent vandalism while offering them a battery-operated, stand-alone, audit-trail, proximity card-operated office door lock, well you get the idea!