Bolt Down the Hatches

A man’s house is his castle, so I thought why not make it into one! The first thing I noticed when we got the house was a lack of deadbolts on any of the doors. This was a big problem for me, so I set out to install deadbolts into our 4 exterior doors from scratch. It turned out to be pretty easy; however it was time consuming. It took anywhere from 2-3 hours a lock, hence why we are just now posting about it.

What you need:
1. Drill (My crappy 1 speed electric drill from the 80s worked just fine)
2. Chisel
3. Hammer
4. Lock installation kit (I used an Irwin lock installation kit that I got from Lowe’s)
5. New locks

Step 1: Picking the Locks
Locks come in three safety ratings for residential security. ANSI 1, 2 and 3 with ANSI 1 being the highest rated. Basically the higher the safety rating, the more likely the lock will withstand kick-ins and other means of forced entry, like sledge hammers and battering rams (who on earth has a 40 lb. battering ram? I do!). We ended up choosing Kwikset locks because they were ANSI 1 and had high user reviews for quality and durability. And most importantly, the wife thought they looked pretty… She kept calling it orb, which I later found out was “blog slang” for oil rubbed bronze.

Step 2: Drilling
I can’t emphasize how much buying a drilling kit helps with the process. Most locks will come with a paper template, but having a plastic one that is affixed to the door makes drilling the holes easy and more importantly, accurate.

I attached the template to the door with about 5 to 6 inches between the center of the lower lock and the center of the template. After that I used the 2-1/8 bit that comes included with the kit to drill out the hole for the dead bolt.

I then switched to the 1” bit, which is also included in the drill kit, and drilled out the side hole. Noticed how once the template is installed you can drill accurately without having to measure again! Just make sure you are drilling level and not at an angle.

After the two holes were drilled I removed the jib and attached the routing jig to the door. Using the routing bit that comes with the kit (did I mention BUY THE KIT?) route out the template for the faceplate of the lock. 

Step 3. Chiseling I used a 1” chisel and carved out what the router outlined. 

Step 4. The door jamb. Closing the door, take a pen or drill bit and mark where the deadbolt will hit the door jamb. This is an important step to get right because it will dictate how well your lock slides in and out of the door. 

Find the mark, and use the 1” drill bit to drill a hole in the door jamb. Sometimes the core won’t come out (in the case of a french door) and you may need to use your chisel and hammer to remove the wood. 

This is probably the hardest part. Take the other faceplate that comes with the lock and draw an outline around it on the door jamb. After you make the outline with pen use your hammer and chisel to score the outline.

Use your hammer and chisel to carve out enough wood so the face plate fits flush. It will take some trial and error, just keep removing small piece of wood until your faceplate is flush.

Once it fits flush, install the faceplate. In our case, our locks came with a metal box that the deadbolt slides into to increase security, so we had to make a little more room. Note: use the long 4 inch screws that come with your lock, not the short ones. These screws will go through the door jamb and into the frame of the house, increasing resistance to kick it. This is the weakest point of the lock. Also be sure to pre-drill the holes if your are using 4 inch screws to prevent the wood from splitting. 

Step 5. Install the deadbolt per the manufactures’ instructions. Each deadbolt is different, so make sure you follow the instructions for your specific lock.

Step 6. Replace the door knob. I did a tutorial for our knobs here.

Done! Two hours later we have a properly secured garage door. 

On this door we opted to use a keyed lock of both sides. This provides extra security to our garage, in the event someone tries to break the glass and and unlatch the lock. However, these type of locks shouldn’t be installed on doors you would likely use as a fire escape. You should also check to make sure they are according to code in your locality.

Has anyone else spent 10+ hrs. installing locks and deadbolts to your house? Any suggestions on how to do it differently?

Linking up at The Shabby Nest!


  1. Travis would have thrown the deadbolts, and broke them. Seriously. haha. Jesse has some serious dedication!

  2. That was a great tutorial. I will definitely be referring back to it should we ever need to switch ours out. Thanks!

  3. Whitney @ Drab to Fab Design

    I’m glad to see you’re writing posts Jesse! Great work on the locks! I would say spending all that time is worth to make sure you guys are safe! My hubby installed two deadbolts on our back deck doors, but I’m sorry I can’t begin to tell you all the steps he took. I think it took about an hour to an hour and a half each though. :)

  4. Krystle @ Color Transformed Family

    10+ hours is some amazing dedication! I can only imagine how frustrated my husband would be at that point. But I am sure it feels nice to know you can feel safe in your home now.

  5. Jesse, you have the patience of a saint! But what an important step to increase the security of your home. Great job!

  6. i applaud your dedication! i have trouble wrangling my hubs to focus for more than 2 at a time :). luckily, our new house has dead-bolts galore, so its all on me to give them a little ORB spray ;)

  7. This sounds like us. My husband would be all like, “I’m gonna change out the deadbolts. It’ll only take 2 hours.” And 10+ hours later…

  8. Lisa@CozyCondoLiving

    Hi, I found you on Hazardous Avenue’s comment section. I had to tell you that my husband has the same request about not touching another room before the first is done. I’ve had a tendency to spread the love a bit. I love your blog and will be checking it out.

  9. Victoria @ DTTD blog & Edin's House blog

    Great tutorial Ashley! I always leave new door hardware and locks to my hubby :-)
    Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting on our new blog, DTTD. We hope to see you often!

  10. Question for you: Is the routing bit a bit for the drill?

  11. I’m SO glad you posted about this! Perfect timing. My Dad was just trying to explain this to me over the phone and it wasn’t working haha. Now I can just reference your posts! :)

  12. Doesn’t it always seem like the 1 hour projects turn into 10 hours ones?! At least you have a great walkthrough (and locks) to show for it! I agree that the installation kit is the way to go. A palm router (not a common DIY tool) is great instead of chiseling out the area for the strike plate and face plate. It’s faster and gives you nice, clean edges. Also, it’s a good idea to start the hole saw on one side, then switch to the opposite side to better prevent tear-out. Again, great post.

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