Are You a Hingesmith? Door Hardware Beyond The Lock

A locksmith is more than just a key cutter.


Most people outside of our industry think of locksmiths as key cutters. "Is that all you do all day is cut keys?" You've probably been asked this question dozens of times. Of course, we know that locksmiths do far more than cut keys. We educate customers as to the best products for their property...


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Most people outside of our industry think of locksmiths as key cutters. "Is that all you do all day is cut keys?" You've probably been asked this question dozens of times. Of course, we know that locksmiths do far more than cut keys. We educate customers as to the best products for their property. In addition to that, we sell, install, repair, rekey and adjust locks.

There are dozens of opportunities for a locksmith on almost every service call. Every door opening has the potential for additional or replacement non-lock hardware. If a storefront door has a threshold damaged by delivery hand trucks, offer to replace it. If a polished brass threshold is dull, scratched and bent, a shiny new one will make the customers' entryway more inviting. Our job description includes sales and service.

Let's break the door opening down into its three primary components and then look at the related hardware and the opportunities for the locksmith.

The Connection
Butt Hinges - The most common connection between the door and frame is the hinge. Each hinge is made up of two leafs, with each leaf having a plate and series of knuckles that allow the hinge to open and close. A pin is used to connect the two leafs together. There may be two, three, four or five hinges on a door, depending on the size, weight, type, material, usage and degree of abuse for the door. Most residential doors have two hinges on each inner door and usually three hinges on the heavier exterior entry doors. Standard butt hinges are the most common. Hinges come in various sizes and styles including: full mortise, half mortise, offset, swing clear, ball bearing, etc. Commercial doors will generally utilize three or four hinges per door, with five on doors receiving a great deal of use or abuse. The designation NRP indicates that the hinge pin is fixed or non-removable. This is a security feature that prevents exposed pins being removed to gain entry, bypassing the lock. Removable pins can be a significant problem for out swinging doors on building exteriors.

Potential Opportunities – Heavy pedestrian traffic will result in hinges wearing out or working loose. Hinge problems can result in doors dragging on the floor, rubbing against the frame and ultimately will affect the proper operation of the locking mechanism. Squeaky hinges should be lubricated. Loose hinges should be tightened, possibly using longer screws or repairing the screw holes. Damaged hinges should be repaired or replaced. On an access control job, an electrified hinge may be used to replace a standard hinge. Note: There are specialty tools for the locksmith industry to repair bent or damaged hinges without removing them from the door. Another alternative for hinge problems is to replace the butt hinges with continuous hinges.

Continuous Hinges – Commonly used in commercial applications, a continuous hinge is a single hinge assembly that runs from the top of the door to the bottom. Unlike a butt hinge, there are no knuckles. A series of extruded channels along the edge merges together to act as a gear as the hinge rotates. Available in a variety of styles including full surface and half-mortise, these hinges distribute the load of the door along the entire back side of the frame.

Potential Opportunities – Because of their strength and durability, continuous or gear hinges cost more than butt hinges but usually eliminate door sagging problems. After the initial sale and installation, these hinges require very limited maintenance.

Pivots – Another way to make the connection between a door and frame is with pivots. Aluminum-framed glass doors used on storefronts will usually contain a pair of pivots at the top and bottom of the door. These pivots can be offset where the pivots stick out from the face of the door or can be concealed. When concealed, the bottom rail may contain a pivot only while the top rail contains an arm connected to a concealed overhead hydraulic door closer. The door closer is mounted in the hollow aluminum header frame above the door. Only the shaft of the closer is visible. Since the operating shaft is in direct alignment with the lower pivot, the door closer itself acts as a top pivot. In other cases the situation is reversed. When a closer is concealed in the floor (under the door threshold) the bottom shaft acts as a pivot while a standard offset or concealed pivot is in place at the top of the door.

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