An Ode to the Doorknob

Remember the Doorknob?

 – the round handle you turn to open and close doors.

Mr.Locksmith doorknobA customer recently asked me to install a doorknob on their exterior door. A few years ago, the province of BC implemented new policies which discouraged people from installing doorknobs on external doorways – encouraging people to use lever handles instead. This policy is part of a move to improve the accessibility of public buildings. Disabled peoples have a much harder time spinning a doorknob then then they have depressing a lever. The move was set to enhance inclusivity within the province’s architecture and improve the safety of public buildings.

Old doorknobs should be replaced with lever handles at the appropriate time.

Most doorknobs have a spindle running through them which, when turned, draws the latch. The latch disengages from the doorframe allowing the door to swing freely.

History of the Doorknob

Mr.Locksmith middle-ages door latchDoorknobs are a relatively recent development in lock technology. They can be seen in Egyptian paintings dating back to 5000 years ago, however; this would have been a luxury of the upper class. At the beginning of the Middle Ages people lived in one big room, divided into smaller sections that used hides as door flaps. Metal hinges and wooden doors were later bolted into the stone foundations and used a latch to open and close the door.

Doorknobs exploded in popularity during the 1900’s, when hundreds of patents for doorknobs were issued. Doorknobs were initially made out of wood but quickly shifted to hollow metal as technology developed. Doorknobs became decorative ‘showpieces’ for homes. It was considered luxurious to have a doorknob made out of ivory, china, or clay, bronze, or brass.

Mr.Locksmith wood doorknobMr.Locksmith early doorknobmr.locksmith pretty doorknob

In 1909, the founder of Schlage patented a door lock that turned the lights on and off. Doorknobs were quickly fitted with a cylinder locking device, allowing people to use the doorknob to lock their door.

Locksmiths have been ahead of the game in phasing out the doorknob. We recognize that lever handles are not only more accessible for everyone, but also safer for everyone. In an emergency situation, lever handles are easier to open than door knobs. A disabled hand can hamper your ability to twist the knob, but will not prevent you from depressing the lever.

Mr.Locksmith handleset

The new regulations officiating the death of the doorknob took effect at the beginning of 2014, initiating a move towards increased safety and accessibility, which locksmiths have been advocating for years.


Check out our video on how to open a locked bathroom door.

To learn more about Locksmithing, check out these Locksmith Training Courses coming to Victoria.

Mr. Locksmith is British Columbia’s largest Locksmith company. At the end of 2014 we expanded to Vancouver Island and the Victoria area. To learn about Mr. Locksmith franchise opportunities, click here.

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