Replacing Skeleton Key Locks

What You'll Need
Small flat head screwdriver
Philips head screwdriver
New door knob

If you're one of those people that have the pleasure of living in an old home then you are very versed in skeleton key locks. Skeleton key locks use a type of key known as (yes, you guessed it) a skeleton key. Older homes were fitted with identical door knobs and, as such, the locks were identical. Complete skeleton key locks, like skeleton keys, are quite rare. Even if you no longer have the skeleton key you can have a reproduction created at a local locksmith if they have the proper equipment. In order to have a skeleton key made you need to be able to remove one of the skeleton key locks. You do this by removing the internal lock and taking it to the locksmith and a reproduction can be made. You can also just replace the skeleton key locks as they are old and not secure. There is a trick, however, to remove skeleton key locks and this article will show you how.

Step 1 - Find the Screw

At first glance you will not be able to find a screw holding skeleton key locks in place. These locking mechanisms use very small set screws. They keep the door knob on the spindle. Old doors typically have one set screw on each side of the door but only one has to be removed. Look on the stem of the knob and you will see a tiny screw. Use the screwdriver and remove the screw and place it inside a baggie. You can remove the other screw if you like but it is not necessary. Saving all of the parts (especially if you have the original skeleton key) can mean a couple dollars coming your way from an antique dealer.

Step 2 - Remove the Door Knob

Once the screw is removed you simply need to pull the door knob away from the spindle. Grab the other door knob with one hand and hold the door with the other. Pull the door knob away from the door. It will come off along with the spindle. Place these pieces off to the side.

Step 3 - Remove the Face Plate

The face plate is on the edge of the door between the knobs. This is attached by two screws with one at the bottom and one at the top. Remove them carefully and place inside the baggie. Put the head of the screwdriver between the door and the top of the face plate. Pry it forward gently to remove it. Score the area first if it was painted over.

Step 4 - New Door Knob Installation

Remove the new door knob that will replace one of the skeleton key locks from the package. Insert the door latch through the hole in the side of the door and follow with the plate and screw in place. Place both door knobs on the door and insert the screw and tighten them by hand then tighten them further with a screwdriver.