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Ideas from Ed: Latch catch (Volume 5, Issue 9)

The fun thing about writing this column is that the subject matter can range from a complex project to something very simple. My goal, though, is to always provide useful information to help you build, repair, or improve your home. This month, I’m taking a few minutes to address an annoying issue, and although the solution is easy and obvious, many of us continue to “live with” the annoyance instead of taking the little bit of time to fix things. Until now, that is.

The problem of the month is a door that doesn’t quite close properly, and has an old-fashioned catch. The non-engaging can be due to many things, like the house settling, shrinkage from weather/lack of humidity, or even worn parts. Here’s a picture of what I mean:

The first step is to check the alignment of the “twanger” in the latch mechanism with the rectangular cutouts in the receiver. If the twanger doesn’t extend properly, it may need a new spring. If it’s misaligned, the receiver slots may need to be slightly enlarged with a hand file or the receiver position slightly moved. In my case, the twanger extended, but not fully into the receiver slot. There was also some misalignment, but not enough to be problematic. The solution seemed to be to bring the receiver outward toward the door just a tad so there was more engagement with the twanger. (I love using technical terms! LOL!) Here’s the receiver and the door mechanism showing the weak but functional twanger:

To remove painted parts like this receiver without doing much damage to the surrounding wood and paint, the edges should first be scored with a razor knife. That helps break the paint seal, and then the piece can be gently removed.

Since I really don’t like having parts painted that shouldn’t be, I used my trusty motor-mounted brass wire wheel to remove the paint. A setup like this is an absolute necessity for the do-it-yourselfer wishing to restore things. As I’ve said before, if the item to be buffed happens to be brass, it can be safely buffed. If brass-plated steel, over-buffing will remove the brass finish.

I decided to use some automotive gasket-making material I had on hand for the needed spacer. I traced the receiver’s outline on the material and carefully cut it out.

Installed in the door frame, the little bit of extra material is hardly seen, but provides just enough room for the twanger to “catch” well so the door closes securely.

I hope all your projects go well. Thanks for reading, and happy restoring!


If you’d like to download a PDF of this “Ideas” column, click here:

Ideas from Ed 2022_September_Latch_catch
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