How to Install and Test a Wired Mortise Lock

For when a regular lock just won’t cut it. Access control mortise locks are sturdy and secure, but adding electronic wiring makes it possible to add remote locking and unlocking as well as other features like scheduling lock hours and mandatory fail-secure lock-downs for emergencies. For a smart facility or just one that wants better access control, these are a great solution.

What Is A Mortise Lock?

You’ve certainly used a mortise lock, even if you didn’t know that’s what it was. These locks are actually inside the door itself, invisible from the outside as it were. They have a simple key cylinder and pulleys that connect it to a bolt that locks the door.

Many businesses use these locks because they are flush with the door and thus look very polished, as well as being more tamper-resistant because the mechanisms are sheathed inside the wood or metal of the door, not exposed on the door frame.

mortise lock

Why A Wired Mortise Lock?

When a system for electrical impulses is added to the mortise lock, it means that there is another way for the bolt to be operated aside from the key cylinder. The impulse can trigger the bolt to lock or unlock at the press of a button, or on a particular timed schedule.

A mortise lock is also a fail-secure lock. This means that when the power is out, the bolt automatically goes back to its default position, with the bolt out–so that the door automatically locks. 

This makes it a good fit for exterior exits, but not for interior doors protecting equipment, servers, or records rooms.

Still interested? Let’s move on and learn how to install a wired mortise lock.

electric strike door lock installation

How to Install a Wired Mortise Lock

The first step to install a wired access control mortise lock is to install the lock itself. 

Not all doors are compatible with mortise locks; glass doors can’t be hollowed out, and thin doors don’t have enough width to hold the entire mechanism.

An existing mortise lock generally can’t be upgraded to an electronic one; you’ll need to replace it with a new lock or with an electric one. Simply look for one that is similar in size and width to the original.

If you don’t have a mortise lock, you’ll need to make space for it in your door by cutting out part of it, which requires special tools. We do recommend a locksmith or other professional for this. They will be able to make sure that the dimensions of the cut are accurate, that the lock will be perfectly flush with the door, and that the bolt is lined up with the strike plate on the door jamb.

If you are a DIY-er, here is the basic outline of the installation process:

One: Wedge the door to keep it still.

Two: Clearly mark spots for the keyhole, strike plate, and latch on the side of the door. Outline the lock body as well.

Three: Drill the keyhole. The keyhole that is attached to the lock inside the door needs a hole so that it can be accessed from the outside. Make sure not to drill through the door!

Four: Drill the recess for the body of the lock. Locksmiths often use a a ⅝ inch auger bit for drilling in doors for these types of locks. The recess will be slightly deeper than the lock housing. You can use tape to mark depth on the shaft of your drill bit so you don’t drill too far. You should also try to make the sides as straight as possible. Use a chisel and hammer to enlarge and refine the recess if necessary.

Five: Insert the lock. At this point you want the faceplate to be flush with the side of the door. Use your chisel to make more room if you need to.

Six: Screw down the faceplate. Make sure that the keyhole and strike plate are also in the correct positions. Screw it down slowly and evenly to prevent stripped screws or uneven positioning.

Seven: Insert keyhole covers on the outside of the door.

Eight: Now you can place the strike plate and receiver. Use a key to turn the lock on the door so it is out. Rest it against the door frame, and mark that spot. That’s where the receiver needs to be to line up with the bolt. Drill and chisel out another recess. Once you know it fits the bolt, attach the strike plate on the outside.

Nine: Insert the door knob on both sides of the door.

Now we can turn our attention to the wiring

How to Wire an Electronic Mortise Lock

There are two options: to run the wires inside or outside of the door. 

To run them inside the door, you’ll need to make space. How that happens will depend on the door. 

Some metal doors have exterior panels that you can remove to access an inner layer, where you can drill without messing up the look of the door. 

For wood doors, you can drill a long recess, then cover it with thin panels painted to match. Electrified door hinges can help connect the wires in the door to the wires in the wall.

To run them outside the door, you just need to secure them well on the inward-facing part of the door. You can paint them the same color as the door to make them blend in better.

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