Fix a Broken Doorknob Latch With a Rubber Band





Introduction: Fix a Broken Doorknob Latch With a Rubber Band

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Have a door that won’t latch anymore? Nothing happens when you turn the doorknob? Live in an older home with vintage glass or brass doorknobs? A broken door spring in your antique mortise lock is likely the culprit. Finding replacement springs can be a tricky. No worries, I’ll show you how you can fix a vintage door knob by using a common rubber band instead.

Step 1: Remove the Door Handle

Start by removing the door’s handle. Find the small screw on the base of the spindle and loosen it without removing it. Unscrew the handle counter-clockwise until it comes free. Make sure you hold the knob on both sides as you do this. Slide the spindle from the door.

Step 2: Remove the Antique Mortise Lock From the Door

Next remove both screws from the lock face (the metal plate on the inside edge of the door). Note: if you have a painted door, you may need to score the edges of the lock face. Insert a screwdriver into the hole from which you removed the spindle. Twist the screwdriver in order to pop the mortise lock free from the door. You should then be able to grab it and slide it out from the door freely.

Step 3: Unscrew the Cover

Gently remove the cover by removing the small screw. At this point I would advise you to take of picture of the interior mechanism just in case… that way if any parts get knocked out of place by accident you’ll be able to easily reassemble the lock.

Step 4: Install Rubber Band

Starting from the latch, follow the path that leads up to a hook. That’s where you should find a broken or missing spring. Remove the old spring and discard it. Find a thin and supple rubber band. You will need to reduce the size enough so that it will hold tightly on the hook and the pin shown here. Wrap the rubber band around your fingers until the desired length is reached.

Insert the rubber band onto the hook first, then holding it in place, push the other end down onto the pin. Note that the rubber band must hold in position without any assistance on your part. If it comes off, make the rubber band shorter.

Step 5: Replace the Cover and Test the Handle

Once you have it securely in place, gently re-position the cover and tighten the cover screw. Before reassembling the door, test the latch. Insert the spindle and turn the knob to see if the latch now retracts and springs back into position.

Step 6: Reinstall the Mortise Lock and Door Handle

Follow the steps you took to remove the antique mortise lock and handle in reverse in order to reassemble the door. Finally, a door that latches!

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    10 Discussions


    1 year ago

    I'd take the same broken spring and stetch it to the desired length after bending a loop out of the last two wound. Rubber is biodegradable.

    I have repaired thousands of these - I have been a locksmith for 35 years.
    Take any "expansion" type spring (about 1/4" in diameter - phosphor bronze is best, but steel is fine). Set the spring on an anvil, and use a cold chisel to cut it to length (about 1/2" short). Turn the last wind 90 degrees, and make it a hook. If you need to -- give it a stretch. Rubber band will work fine until any oil contacts it --- it will deteriorate...

    I love it when someone finds a way to fix something without going on a shopping spree. I thought that was part of the reason for this site. When the rubber band breaks, guess what, you can replace it with another or by then you will have probably thought of a way to make your own spring. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1 reply

    Good quick fix with elastic. In fact, a roll of steel/iron wire, a 1/4 bolt and a pair of pliers were all I've needed to make a suitable spring. Repaired in a few minutes work (maybe 4 times in 40 years). Exact same latch mechanism on my door! Latch box can be tricky to close back up with spring in place.

    You can find a package of assorted springs at Home Depot.

    1 reply

    That's awesome! Not available at Home Depot in Canada (Montreal) unfortunately. Even called a few local lock smiths and I had to bring in the spring so they could special order. I decided to just be creative and save me the hassle.


    1 year ago

    Good job! However, I must say "Do NOT throw the parts away. Take them along while you continue searching for a proper sized spring. After all, rubber bands will break a lot sooner than a steel spring!"

    Nice way to fix it with something people usually already have sitting around their house :)

    Springs like these can be found at the auto parts store. They are used inside older distributors and are called Advance Weight Springs.

    if your going to go that much work you should at least try to find a new spring. just my opinion!