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What is a Rim Lock?

Posted on 01/25/2022

A rim lock is a surface mount lock that installs on the surface of a door and uses a latch that slides into the keeper on the door rim or frame to secure the door.

Many rim locks use porcelain, brass, or other type knobs or handles to operate the latch.

James Carpenter patented the “Number 60” lock in 1830 for the first patent on a rim lock type lock although the concept goes back to medieval times. Carpenter’s son later perfected his Dad’s lock and the updated model was widely used until the 1940’s.

Rim locks are usually installed on doors that are too narrow to take an internal lock mechanism. They are generally for interior doors as they are not very secure since they can be removed with a screwdriver.

Originally made of iron, today rim locks are made of iron, composite materials, brass, or nickel and offered in several finishes. The lock is composed of the body, keeper, escutcheon, and privacy latch.

Many older homes have rim locks. Van Dyke’s offers a number of styles of these vintage locks for replacement of older locks or for adding a vintage look in new construction.


  1. Install keeper to door rim with screws.
  2. Align latch with keeper and mark screw holes with a pencil.
  3. Make sure the latch faces proper direction, if not take apart and flip over.
  4. Drill hole for spindle and keyway.
  5. Screw lock body to door.
  6. Attach escutcheon on opposite side.
  7. Insert spindle and push through hole that was drilled.
  8. Screw on knobs and tighten with supplied Allen wrench.
  9. Test knob and lock function.