This is a story about problem solving, and self-reliance. But it is also a story about door locks.
And, there is even something in here for the Harry Potter fan in me (the books, not the movies, thank you very much).
This story begins in the bathroom, or three bathrooms actually. Until recently, zero of our three bathrooms locked properly. Two bathrooms have pocket doors with a recessed square lock of the sort that have been around for generations. The locks work if the door is perfectly hung with perfect balance and alignment but our doors were always a bit out of alignment so we could never get them to lock. Our third bathroom has a 100-year-old lock on a 100-year-old door. The house, you see, is 100 years old. The lock is a 3-inch square black metal box through which you insert a rod that you screw the knobs onto. The locking mechanism is contained in the metal box. Only, ours didn’t lock properly. So, we had to figure out how to lock our three bathrooms, none of which have traditional door knobs. When a visit to the hardware store didn’t reveal anything helpful, we turned to that other trusted expert: Google. For the pocket doors, Google revealed locks for about $80 each that looked much better than the flimsy ones we had. I ordered three and hired a locksmith to install them. Before the locksmith cut the necessary big, round holes, he examined the locks and determined them to be faulty with lock mechanisms that didn’t actually engage. So, I thanked the locksmith for determining this before he cut large holes in our doors, paid him for his time and returned the locks. And back to Google I went.
In addition to pocket-door latches that cost up to $1,000 each (seriously), I found tiny little latches with a flip-up thing for $8 each. I ordered and installed them myself and they work great. They are not made for pocket doors, but they did solve our problem. And, in an emergency, we can open these from the outside by inserting a sheet of thin cardboard in the gap around the frame and just flipping the latch up with a flick of the cardboard. Two bathrooms down. One to go.
For the third bathroom – the one with the 100-year-old lock – I knew Google would reveal the solution if only I could figure out how to ask the right question (like Harry Potter trying to gain entry to the Room of Requirement). Initially, my searches turned up deadbolts, which I considered, until I realized our 100-year-old door is only one-inch thick so it can’t handle a traditional deadbolt and its thinner-than-usual door jamb wouldn’t work with a traditional deadbolt anyway.
I kept Googling and finally I asked it to please find something like this: Lock for 100-year-old,w 1-inch-thick bathroom door. And Google came through. I learned that the lock we had was called a rim lock and that I could get a new rim lock that looked and functioned just like the original. I ordered one. It was the same size and color as the original so it fit with the existing key holes (including one that can be opened from the outside in an emergency), complete with a set of charming gold keys, which Harry Potter did not need to enter the Room of Requirement but which do resemble the flying keys in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Unlike Harry’s keys, mine don’t have wings but, like Harry’s, they do grant passage through to an important room in our castle.