Professional locksmiths use templates and jigs for lock, strike, hinge and closer installations. This article covers the current state of professional, production, and budget, templates and jigs.
A template is “a gauge, pattern, or mold (such as a thin plate or board) used as a guide to the form of a piece being made.” “A jig may incorporate a template, as in the case of a jig designed to hold a workpiece for routing a particular shape against a bearing or bushing guide, but the template is not a jig until the clamps, stops and handles (as may be appropriate) are added.”
Three template and jig markets are apparent. At the lower end are mass-market cylindrical lockset jigs and hinge templates available at hardware and big box stores. These include: DeWalt, Irwin, Ivy Classic, Menards Masterforce, Mibro and Milwaukee brands.
The next level is comprised of the hinge template kits available from Milescraft, Porter-Cable, and Ryobi. Porter-Cable also offers a complete cylindrical lock boring kit as well as a heavy-duty lock mortise router jig assembly.
JustDoorToolz, Major Manufacturing, MBA USA, Pro-Lok, and Templaco are the primary players focusing on the professional lock market. These companies provide a wide variety of high quality templates, jigs, and door prep tools. Major Manufacturing and Pro-Lok products are available from your traditional wholesale suppliers, while JustDoorToolz, MBA USA and Templaco products are sold direct.
So, who builds what? Three elements exist in the market chain. OEMs are original equipment manufacturers who actually build the individual metal, wood or plastic parts. Most of the tool hardware from these major players is actually made in North America. The components and parts are purchased or manufactured in volume and assembled by the locksmith suppliers noted above, called Aggregators, who create complete (and economical) packages that you can use. A third element can be your wholesale distributor who stocks products for quick delivery when you need it. Pricing tends to be rather consistent between distribution channels, with minor variations.
Plastic, Wood or Metal?
Do Plastic, wood or metal templates and jigs work best? Plastic templates and jigs are sensitive to heat deformation, flexing, and wear as drill and routers rub the edges. But, they are very inexpensive, and some (like the Porter-Cable hinge template and Ryobi hinge installation kit) are adjustable. Plywood templates have become very popular due to the modest cost, structural integrity, durability and simplicity. Woodworking pros suggest that if a plywood template gets nicked, it can be easily repaired with Bondo or epoxy wood filler. Some installers prefer clamp-on jigs to avoid filling attachment nail holes.
Metal templates are robust, durable, temperature stable and don’t flex. Aluminum templates have hardened steel inserts for drill bit locations. Metal templates are generally assembled with socket-head cap screws and clamp assemblies. (Keep a few spare screws handy).
JustDoorToolz responded to frequent installer requests for templates that didn’t leave nail holes in wood doors by creating the plywood Just Door Jigz products. These templates are quickly assembled into clamp-on jigs, available for virtually every type of lock, door, or hinge application.
An adjustable fence attaches to any of the templates to create a strong clamp-on jig. A Just Door Jigz Rail assembly allows up to four hinge templates to be connected together for door or in-place frame preparation.
JustDoorToolz is one of the three North American distributors of the very slick Souber DBB lock mortising kit. Other JustDoorToolz products worth noting are the metal and wood repair kits and the Kwik Drill device that accurately prepares all four hinge screw holes in one pass, and tools for accurate metal stud and door installation. Professional lock installers can purchase the equipment direct from the St. Lucie, FL company. http://justdoortoolz.com/.
MBA USA President Mark Bates has 25-years of lock and safe experience, earning CML and CMST certifications. He has taught throughout North America, UK, Europe, the Middle East. While in the UK in 1998, Bates observed the Souber DBB Morticer jig in action and could see that it was a versatile time saver. They are currently a major supplier of a complete Souber DBB product line of parts and kits.
Three distinct Souber DBB kits are offered on the MBA USA website. The Kentucky based company also offers a high quality metal Quick Install cylindrical jig (right) as well as other door prep parts and tools. www.mbausa.com.
Major Manufacturing is located in Anaheim, CA. Owners Bill and Pam Deforrest are well known in the professional locksmith community for their tools, high quality metal templates, and installation kits. Three types of assemblies are available.
Aluminum templates and drill guides for specific cylindrical and mortise locks, exit devices and cabinet locks are attached to the HIT-66 clamps socket-head cap screws to create high-quality jigs. The templates and clamp assembly are securely fastened with socket-head cap screws to create a complete jig.
The second assembly is the Drillmaster jig series that provides quick set-up for cylindrical locks, strikes and hinges. Two distinct products include the professional Drillmaster and the Drillmaster 2. The Drillmaster 2 kit packages everything needed for cylindrical and tubular lock installation. Extensive packages are available to prep aluminum doors and jams. A third option is the HIT-66-200 Lock Mortiser that attaches to clamps for routing mortise pockets. Distribution is through your traditional lock wholesaler. www.majormfg.com
PRO-LOK® is well known in the locksmithing trade for a wide assortment of locksmithing and car opening tools. A large number of templates, drill guides and jig assemblies are available, including the Incl-Pro Universal Clamp assembly. The adjustable clamp is firmly attached by socket-head cap screws to the aluminum templates. Hardened steel inserts give long template life. A good installation video shows the system in operation.
Pro-Lok began offering the revolutionary Souber DBB Morticer in 1999 which they market under their own brand as Injigc-Mort. The company also offers the Killer Jig and complete Killer Jig Kit for cylindrical and tubular lock installation. Pro-Lok products are available through your traditional lock wholesalers. Detailed information is available at www.pro-lok.com.
Templaco Tools of San Marcos, CA is operated by longtime tool, template and jig builder John Streeter. His 30-years of door prep experience with Classic Engineering, Milligan Engineering, and Templaco Tool companies have proved instructive.
The company has developed a complete line of tough plywood templates for most lock, strike, latch and hinge applications. These can be attached with double-headed nails, or clamp-on assemblies. Check out comments from the Fine Homebuilding article found on the Templaco website.
The wide range of Templaco plywood templates are very popular due to the fast set-up, durability, and simplicity. The full length hinge mortise templates are especially easy to set up with no loose parts, no measuring, no head gap, and almost no adjustment. The router slides easily over the smooth surface.
Two Cylindrical jig kits are also available from the company. The Bore Master Junior cylindrical installation kit provides quality jig, bits, plus latch and strike locating tools. The larger Bore Master kit (left) replaces the strike and latch marking tools with router templates for popular cylindrical, lock, latch and strike cut-outs. Extensive experience dictates that carbide-tipped spur bits are wise for cutting tools. www.templaco.com.
The Souber DBB Morticer was developed in the UK. The genius of this product is that the lock, latch, strike or hinge is the actual template. The clamp-on slide assembly allows very rapid and accurate wood or aluminum set-up and mortising. Souber products are distributed in North America by JustDoorToolz, MBA USA, and Pro-Lok. Yes, the product name is spelled “Morticer.”
The DBB on the Souber Morticer product stands for the initials of the surnames of Souber’s associates, Dyson, Blakey, and Brown, who helped develop the technology and Morticer design. Beware of inexpensive knock-off products found on the internet. Check out the introduction video of the DBB Lock Morticer which can be viewed at: www.morticer.com/en/videos/.
Trend Machinery and Cutting Tools is another UK company that produces a high quality aluminum box beam hinge template. The template can be quickly disassembled into two parts for easier transport. Two models allow fitting doors from 6’5” to 6’ll” with adjustable hinge sizes. Hinge location is pre-set and fastening awls leave slightly larger puncture holes than nails. Trend templates are available from a number of woodworking supply dealers throughout North America. www.trend-uk.com.
Norfield is a Chico, CA company that builds jig fixtures for high-production shop operations. These full length fixtures run from five to ten thousand dollars – well beyond anything most lock operations would need – unless you’re opening a factory. www.norfield.com.
If you’re prepping several doors for the same hardware, templates and jigs are likely very helpful. If you’re mortising locks and hinges into wood doors, the Souber system is pretty awesome. Installers have found the full-length plywood hinge jigs from Templaco and the Rail assembly from JustDoorJigs to be very effective for hinges as well.
Cutting in strikes and lock assemblies in aluminum doors and frames is definitely jig country. Several of the websites listed above have good template packages for aluminum work – new and retrofit. Major Manufacturing has some rather complete aluminum door packages. Watching installation videos is a great way to get the feel for how things really work. The most fun though, is delivering a clean, accurate and fully functioning installation.
Cameron Sharpe, CPP wrote for Caterpillar and Honeywell before working 25-years in hardware and electronic access distribution. [email protected]