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They're items we rarely think about, but door handles have been in use for centuries, although America began manufacturing them in the 1850's. Back in colonial days, door handles were constructed out of wood or string to form a basic latch. The traditional round door handle made an appearance in the late-eighteenth century. Door hardware was almost exclusively imported until decorative door handles were displayed at the Centennial Exposition of 1876.
Early door handles were made of a wide variety of materials. Glass knobs (either made of pressed or cut glass), wooden knobs, and ceramic knobs were popular through the nineteenth century into the first decade of the twentieth century. Knobs made of metal were typically made of several soldered pieces, until the mid-1850's when the casting process was developed.
The Victorian era produced a profusion of decorative cast bronze, or brass, door handles. Over 1,000 antique door handle designs from this period have been cataloged by collectors.
Locking devices on door handles are a necessity, and processes to machine steel locks were utilized starting in 1896. Modern door handlesets feature spring locks, dead bolts, or electronic devices that require a key code or combination.
When choosing and installing door handlesets, there are several helpful things to keep in mind:
• Using exterior door handlesets and interior door handles that have a similar style or finish will produce a smooth transition as you move throughout your home.
• Even though round door handles are the most frequently used, they are considered the most difficult to turn. Lever or egg-shaped door handles are more ergonomically designed.
• Due to its resilience against rusting, brass handlesets are the most well-liked, although door handles can be found in many metals, ceramic, wood, glass, and even plastic.
• Door handles typically use a screw axle called a spindle. When a knob loses traction, fine-tuning or exchanging the set screw can put a stop to spindle slipping.
Door handlesets are kits that include a door handle and a separate locking mechanism. These sets are made for exterior entry door handles and also for interior door handles. Handlesets are available with the following options:
• Single Cylinder – Used mostly for residential homes, these handlesets feature a lock that requires a key on the exterior side only.
• Double Cylinder – This type of door handleset features a lock that requires a key on the exterior and interior side of the door, and is typically a deadbolt.
• Dummy Set – Most often used for interior door handles, dummy sets are motionless and do not have a locking mechanism. For the exterior, these sets are typically used to provide a match on double entry doors.
• Interconnected Set – This kind of door handleset features a latch and a dead bolt that are connected, so that one twist of the knob from inside will draw back the locks.
As more and more Americans reach their golden years, there is an increasing demand for accessible design in exterior door handlesets and interior door handles. Accessible design is about making products, services, and surroundings as useable as possible by the widest group of people in spite of of age, capability or situation. Accessible design is also known as universal design, barrier-free design, adaptable design, and assistive technology.
Many people with arthritis, or even children, may have trouble opening and closing door handles. This is one area where accessible design can help. Interior designers and architects are now designing and renovating homes using universal design principles. For example, installing lever door handlesets instead of round models will greatly increase the accessibility of the door, because there is no grasping or twisting action needed to operate it. Another option is the egg-shaped door handle which is more ergonomically designed than a round handleset.
You can refine the entry to your home with a distinctive handleset for your front door. Although custom designed door handlesets are obtainable, there is a multitude of ready-made options available including:
• Thumbgrip operated handles – This type of handleset features a latch above the handle that you press down with your thumb to open up the door.
• Knob and lever operated handles – A round knob is a classic door handle that is still widely used for exterior and interior door handles. Lever door handlesets have a long, paddle-like horizontal lever that makes it easy to open your front door if you are carrying groceries or have arthritis.
• Screen & storm door handles - These protective doors lead to the outside and can be upgraded to a thumbgrip handle or a lever handle.
• Deadbolts sets – When you need extra peace of mind, try adding a stand-alone deadbolt to go along with your door handleset.
The majority of modern door handlesets are manufactured from metal components, with brass being used most frequently. Processes for producing door handles include pouring molten metal into molds, or casting, as well as the more commonly used forging process. In forging, metal is heated and then pressed into dies of various shapes. This efficient process makes exterior door handlesets and interior door handles that are up to 250% stronger than those made with a casting process.
Forging consists of several key steps:
1. A piece of metal is heated to extreme temperatures in a furnace and then placed in a shaped die. Intense pressure is exerted on the die, thus forming the heated metal to the die cavity shape.
2. The new door handle is then taken out of the die press, cooled, trimmed, and washed.
3. Now the door handle is ready for its surface to be finished. Processes involved to prepare it for polishing include drilling, milling, tapping, and coining. The thumblatch and locking mechanism are now assembled, and the handle is buffed for shine.
4. To protect the door handle finish, an organic or inorganic coating is put on using physical vapor deposition or electroplating. Inorganic coatings are becoming more widely used since the solvents in organic coatings (such as acrylic and polyurethane) can hamper quality and generate hazardous materials.
5. Manufacturers then examine the completed door handleset for quality control issues such as surface finish, dimension consistency, and building code compliance.
After you've decided on a door handleset that will complement your home's design and style, the installation can begin. Remember to bring a measurement of your door thickness with you when shopping for new door handlesets, so that you know all the included hardware will work on your door.
There are generally three simple steps to follow when installing door handles on a new door:
• Use a template made of cardboard or paper to help you decide on handle placement.
• Punch a hole in your template with a nail, so you know where to drill the holes for the handle. Position the template on your door, make a mark on the hole, and then drill.
• The last step is to securely install the door handlesets.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|