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Spiller Glossary

Thank you for visiting the Spiller website. We have tried to make the product descriptions on our website as full and clear as possible, using language that is easily understood. However in some cases we cannot avoid using terminology which is specific to the world of ironmongery and locks

Therefore we have produced 2 glossaries of commonly-used ironmongery and locksmithing words which, we hope, will increase your understanding and make product selection easier. Please remember that you can always call a Spiller ironmonger on 01935 443316 for expert advice-we are here to help!

Ironmongery Terms

1. Active Door

The door leaf, in a pair of doors, which opens first, and the one to which the locking mechanism is fitted. The other door in the pair is known as the "slave" door

2. Aperture

Means "hole" or "opening". In ironmongery terms used to distinguish between the external dimensions of a letterplate, and the dimensions of the opening or aperture

3. Backflap hinge

A backflap is a type of butt hinge, but the width across the flaps is increased relative to the knuckle length. Normally used where there is insufficient timber to fix standard butt hinges e.g. sliding or folding doors. For this reason a backflap hinge is usually flat backed i.e. the knuckle is not cranked

4. Backplate

The backplate is the plate on which a set of lever lock or lever latch door handles is mounted for fixing to the door surface. Many external and internal door handle designs offer the choice of handles on a backplate or on a rose

5. Bale's catch

Similar push/pull fastener to a ball catch, but uses a small forend screwed to the door frame

6. Ball catch

A push/pull fastener which is ideal for applications like cupboard doors

7. Barrel bolt

A standard door bolt with a round shoot which runs through a continuous barrel or guide attached to a backplate. Available in a wide range of sizes and metal finishes

8. Bolt applications-inward and outward opening doors

The type of bolt and keep required depends on whether the door is inward or outward opening

a. On an inward opening door the iner door face is flush with the frame. Choose a straight barrel bolt with a staple to fix on the frame

b. On an outward opening door where the frame stop projects over the door face. Choose a necked or cranked barrel bolt witha flat plate to fix to the frame

9. Brighton fastener

A specific design of sash fastener. Please see no.31 below

10. Bronze

There are 2 different types of bronze door furniture, and it is important to appreciate the difference. "Real Bronze" is an alloy of copper and (usually) tin which can be rolled and drawn. The attractive dark reddish/brown colour comes from the high ratio of copper to tin. "Imitation Bronze Metal Antique" is a less expensive way of achieving a similar look. IBMA products are usually brass-based with an applied finish to achieve the bronze appearance

11. Butt hinge

The most popular type of hinge for domestic and commercial use consisting of 2 equal leaves connected by a knuckle and hinge pin. One leaf is morticed into the door frame, and the other into the door. When measuring hinges (e.g a 4"x3" or 100mmx75mm hinge) the first measurement is the height of the hinge. The second measurement is the breadth of the 2 leaves in the open position

12. Cabin hook

Uses a hook on a small backplate and an eye to hold a door open. The hook should be fitted to the wall, and the eye to the door at the appropriate height. The "silent pattern" variety has a close knuckle swivel joint which prevents any rattling or potential damage to the wall surface when the hook is not engaged

13. Casement and Sash windows

A casement window is a hinged window (single or pair) which opens outwards and is normally opened and closed by a casement fastener (or window handle), and a casement stay which can hold the window open at different angles. A sash window slides up and down vertically in a frame

14. Casement fastener/Window handle

A casement fastener is a pivoted fastener used to open and close a casement window. The fastener is shaped like a handle, and has a tongue which fits into a locking plate on the window frame. The locking plate required will vary depending on the style of window e.g.

Hook plate-for flush windows where the hook plate is mounted on the frame, or for a pair of windows without a centre mullion

Mortice plate-for a recessed window where the fastener locks into the frame   

Wedge Plate-for easy frame/surface mounting

15. Casement stay

The casement stay partners the fastener (window handle) in wooden casement windows. The stay is used to hold the window in the open position at different degrees of opening

16. Counter flap hinge

This hinge has a double pivot joint between the two flaps to provide a flat surface when the counter flap is closed. It is purpose made for bar counters and similar requirements for a completely flat surface

17. Escutcheon (or keyhole cover)

Otherwise known as a keyhole cover, escutcheons are fitted over/around the keyhole to match the rest of the door furniture. Both open (i.e. no cover) and covered escutcheons are widely available. A covered escutcheon would normally be used on an external door to prevent draughts

18. Espagnolette bolt/lock

A window or door fastening which has a bolt which has a bolt running vertically the full height of the door/window, operated by a centrally positioned handle. Also known as a multi-point lock because the bolts shoot vertically and horizontally into the door or window frame when operated

19. Fanlight catch

This is a fastener designed specifically for an inward opening fanlight window i.e. a horizontal pivot window, or a window hinged along the bottom edge. The catch includes a ring, and when pulled, the ring releases a spring catch

20. Fitch fastener

A specific design of sash fastener-please see no.31 below

21. Gate latch

A fastening for a timber gate or door which uses a latch bar and is operated by thumb or by a ring handle

22. Hasp and staple

A 2-piece fastening for a door or large box/trunk which is secured by a padlock

23. Hinge stile and lock stile

An ordinary door has2 vertical stiles. The door stile to which the hinges are fixed is the hinge stile, and the lock or latch operates on the other stile i.e. the lock stile

24. Hook and Band hinge

Hook and band hinges are principally used on field gates and barn doors, although there are more decorative versions availbale for internal use. The hook which includes the hinge pin is fixed to the gate post. The band which sits on the hinge pin is fixed to the door or gate

25. Lever action flush bolt

This is a flush bolt designed to be morticed into either the leading edge of the door, or the door face. The lever is also in a recess within the bolt to achieve the flush surface

26. Malleable iron

Standard cast iron is a brittle product unsuitable for making riveted, hammered and assembled products. However malleable iron, after casting, is subjected to a lengthy heat treatment which removers carbon, and results in a more flexible and hard-wearing product

27. Monkey tail bolt

This is a popular door or garage bolt with a square spring bolt and shaped vertical handle. The extended handle allows the monkey tail bolt to be used in applications which are above normal height restrictions

28. Parliament hinge

A parliament hinge is a wide scalloped butt hinge designed so that  a door may swing through 180 degrees and have clearance over projecting architraves or skirting boards. Parliament hinges and projection hinges both provide this clearance benefit. Projection hinges have a greater load bearing capacity. Parliament hinges look better, but sacrifice some of the load bearing capacity because of the scalloped design and shortened knuckle. Please check the weight of the door before choosing

29. Pewter

A metal alloy made from tin, copper and antimony. It is grey/silver in colour and is hardwearing, ideal for items of architectural ironmongery.

30. Projection

On a door knob or handrail the "projection" is the distance measured from the surface on which the item is mounted to the furthest point of the item from the surface

31. Rose

A rose is a small shaped plate on which the door handle or door knob is mounted, mainly to enhance the appearance and improve the fitting of the door furniture on the door. Many handle designs offer the choice of handles on a rose or on a backplate

32. Sash fastener

A locking device to close and secure the top and bottom sash in a timber sash window. There are several different styles including "fitch" and "brighton"

33. Trickle vent

Another name for a vent with vertical slots


Locksmithing Terms

1. Mortice locks and Rim locks

"Mortice" and "Rim" are common terms which describe how the lock is fitted to the door, but not how the lock is operated

2. Mortice Locks

A mortice is a recess or pocket cut into the leading edge of a timber or metal door. So a mortice lock is fitted into the recess which is cut into the door edge. Once fitted the only visible part of the lock is the forend when the door is in the open position

3. Rim Locks

A rim lock is surface mounted on the inside surface of a door

4. Deadlocks

A deadlock is a standard lock operated only by a key, which throws a square-ended deadbolt into a keep or strike plate on the door frame in order to secure the door. Deadlocks are available in both mortice and rim variants. In some models the deadlock bolt is operated by a key from the outside, and a thumbturn on the inside


5. Latch/latchbolt

A latch is a bevelled, spring-loaded bolt commonly used on both external and internal doors to secure a door in the closed position i.e. "closed" but not necessarily "locked". A latch is usually operated by a pair of door handles or doorknobs

6. Sashlock

A sashlock is a mortice lock which combines a latch (operated by a pair of handles or door knobs) to open/close the door, and a key-operated deadbolt which locks/unlocks the door

7. Bathroom lock

A bathroom lock normally has 2 operational elements. A sprung latch bolt, operated by handles to open/close the door from either side. Plus a deadbolt operated by a knob or thumbturn from the inside to lock the door. Usually the oppposite end of the thumbturn, on the outside of the door, includes an emergency release-see below please

8. Thumbturn and Emergency coin release

Used with a bathroom mortice lock to operate the deadbolt instead of a key, in order to provide privacy. The bathroom door is locked from the inside by the knob/thumbturn. From the outside a coin release device will unlock the door in case of emergency


A nightlatch is normally* rim-style (i.e. surface mounted) and has a bevelled spring-loaded latch bolt which secures the door closed. Usually operated by a key from the outside, and knob on the inside. There is often a snib which can hold back the latch. If being used on the external door of a property it is recommended that the night latch is used in conjunction with a mortice deadlock. * Please note that there are also variants of mortice nightlatch on the market

10. Tubular mortice latch

A tubular latch is a compact and efficient latch, morticed into the door and operated by a pair of door handles or door knobs. Ideal for internal doors which need to be closed, but are never locked

11. Backset

The horizontal distance measured from the outside face of the forend to the centre of the keyway (or cylinder), or to the centre of the follower or to both

12. Cabinet and Cupboard locks

Cabinet locks for cupboards/desks/cabinets are of simple construction and are either "straight" or "cut". Straight locks are mounted on the inside face of the drawer or door. Cut locks are cut into the edge of the drawer or door


The distance measured from the centre of the follower to the centre of the keyway (or cylinder)

14. Door furniture

A "catch-all" term to cover the additional items required to operate a lock or latch e.g. door handles, door knobs. An upright mortice lock or latch would normally be matched with a pair of lever door handles. If you prefer door knobs then choose a horizontal mortice lock to avoid rapping your knuckles on the door frame

15. Follower

The part of the lock or latch which, when turned by a spindle, operates the bolt. The square hole is usually 8x8mm to suit a standard spindle which extends from the handle to the follower. On a bathroom lock there is oftem a second follower to accept a spindle from a thumbturn, which controls the deadbolt. The thumbturn may have a 5x5mm hole to accept a 5mm spindle

16. Forend

The part of the mortice lock or latch through which the bolt(s) protrude, and by which the lock or latch is screwed to the door

17. Keep

Alternative word for a staple or strike plate i.e. the part of the lock which receives the bolt and secures the door

18. Mechanical digital lock

A lock that is operated by a keypad with buttons set to a pre-determined code. Entering the correct code operates the lock

19. Multi-point lock

A lock comprising more than one locking point between the door leaf and the door frame, interlinked and centrally operated

20. Rebate components/kits

Rebate kits are required when you wish to fit a mortice lock to a pair of doors which have rebated meeting stiles. Stepped forends enable the body of the lock to be correctly morticed into the centre of the stile

21. Strike plate

A flat metal plate fixed to the door frame into which the bolt or bolts shoot. There is a shaped or bevelled lip on one side to guide the springbolt. A strike plate is always provided with a mortice lock or latch, and with rim locks on an outward opening door

22. Thumb turn

The name given to any small fitting which is gripped between thumb and finger for turning