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More Handles ‘How To’ Guides - What is a Latch or Lock Follower?

Architectural Ironmongery can be a confusing place - filled with different terminology and jargon that can quickly become confusing. The More Handles ‘How To’ guides series of articles aims to break down confusing industry jargon, and help explain the differences between similar items where confusion can easily occur.

Today we are looking at the term ‘Follower’. Quite simply, the term ‘Follower’ refers to the hole in a mortice latch or lock where the spindle* passes through the latch or lock body and the door. The follower is usually a reinforced circular disc, made from brass or steel. It has a square hole punched right through it, to accept a metal spindle. The spindle must pass through the follower to connect to a door handle or door knob on each side of the door. The follower is sprung**, and must pivot, to allow the door handles to be turned. The follower is one of the most important parts within a lock or latch assembly, as it is the principal moving part of the lock or latch. For this reason, the follower is usually made from sturdy reinforced material.

The standard size of Spindle in the Ironmongery industry today is 8mm square, so the followers on our locks and latches are 8mm to match. A spindle must be the correct size to snugly fit through the follower, and in doing so, when a door handle is depressed by hand, or a door knob turned, the spindle creates leverage against the follower to turn it - thus retracting the latchbolt or ‘tongue’, so that a person can open the door. A follower is found on all Latches and Locks that have latching capability. 

One point to note is that latch and lock followers (and spindles) were not always standardized at 8mm. Before the advent of the metric system, followers and spindles tended to be manufactured in imperial measure at 19/64", which translates to 7.6mm. Some pre-20th century locks were even produced with varying spindle sizes including 7mm, and can occasionally be found at even smaller sizes. This can make for some difficulty when a person tries to replace the handles on an old latch or lock, as a modern 8mm spindle will not pass through a smaller sized follower.

To save yourself frustration when replacing old handles, it is always best practice to measure the follower or spindle on your existing latches, locks and handles. If you do find it to be smaller than the modern standard of 8mm, you will need to either replace your latch or lock for a new product, or find a lever handle or door knob set which has a smaller spindle. At More Handles, we carry the most comprehensive range of locks and latches on the web today, and you are very likely be able to find a replacement for your door lock or latch by browsing our range of locks right here. In addition, we carry several lines of door handles and door knobs in particular, that are made specifically for older locks and latches, and so come with a smaller spindle which will fit through old style smaller followers. We carry a range of period style door knobs which you can view here that all come with a 7mm spindle to fit old imperial locks, and many items in the From the Anvil range of products come with a 7.6mm spindle. We also have a very nice collection of wooden door knobs which you can see here, all with a 7.6mm spindle. 

In addition to locks and latches, you will find a follower on all Privacy Bathroom Locks and Dead Bolts. The principals of operation remain the same, but the function of a bathroom lock or dead bolt is to lock a door from within using a privacy thumbturn and release.*** This allows a user to throw over a deadbolt from inside a room, usually a bathroom or bedroom, for quick privacy. The size of a bathroom lock or dead bolt follower is industry standardized at 5mm square. This is designed to take a 5mm spindle, which are supplied as standard with a Privacy Thumbturn and release.

Again, it is worth noting that occasionally in rare cases, manufacturers have been known to use a larger 8mm follower in their privacy locks. This is always worth a quick measure  to check before replacing a turn & release. At More Handles we carry a several Turn & releases to combat this issue, so customers don't have to change their lock. The Zoo Hardware ZPS005SS and DAT005 Turn and Releases have an 8mm spindle option, as does the Carlisle Brass AA10 Turn and Release. 

If you need help in finding a door handle, latch or lock with specific follower or spindle size requirements, we would be happy to help you further, and are always available to discuss your project in more detail. Drop us an email or give one of our experts a call at:

TEL - 01228 516 516



*Spindle: The metal rod or bar that connects the handles through the door.

**Sprung: An item of ironmongery which has a built-in spring so the item springs back, or 'returns' to its original place. Most commonly found built into latches, door knobs and door handles.

*** Privacy Thumbturn and Release: A two-part assembly designed to lock a door from the inside for privacy. Usually used on bathroom and bedroom doors. Features an emergency release on the outside which can be operated by a coin.

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