A mortise door lock or mortise lock set is references to a specific type of lock. Although they were have not been as popular as the standard cylindrical lock set that was developed in later years, they are slowly making a comeback in upper middle class and upper class homes in America.
Mortise door locks can be lever operated or can accommodate a standard cylindrical lock. In addition to this, mortise locks are generally more ornate than a standard lock. Even the plain mortise lock sets appear to be ornate by comparison because of the size difference.
A mortise lock set contains a handle and lock set, along with the external trim of a mortise lock set is not simply trim, but hides the rather large hole that is created to fit the mortise lock set into the door. The operations of the mortise lock are not always based around a standard cylindrical lock. In the UK and several other countries, the mortise lock is a lever and tumbler style of lock, much like its original design (by the nephew of the man who invented the cotton gin, Eli Whitney). However, here in the US, most mortise lock sets that are sold contain cylindrical style locking mechanisms, as they generally are considered to be more secure.
Mortise locks can not normally be installed by the home owner, as they require a large rectangular hole to be cut into the door. Most home owners simply aren’t up to the task of slicing into their door, even if they really want a mortise lock set installed. Unless you are intimately familiar with woodworking and tools in general, it is not recommended that you attempt to do this yourself, but have a professional do the installation.
Mortise lock sets can come in many different designs, colors, and patterns. The most typical colors for mortise door locks, much like standard cylindrical locks, are brass, copper, and silver. Mortise lock sets also have an exterior trim that can be engraved with designs, names, or anything else you’d like to see as a pattern. Most often they simply have some vine like edging engraved on them, or are plain and unadorned, allowing you to decorate your new mortise lock set however you see fit.
Mortise locks are becoming more and more popular, and are slowly moving from being upper class distinctions into common use by the more average earning family. Although I doubt mortise locks will ever become standard for most homes built in the US, their decorative appeal, and the variety of different handles that can be placed on mortise locks makes them very popular indeed for people looking to create a specific atmosphere or appearance with their homes. I do expect to see more and more mortise lock options and differing mortise lock sets being sold at places like home depot in the coming years.