Seeking Long-Term Relationship…

… with a fall lock.

I’m currently making a bureau and it requires a brass lock for its fall. I have had a good rummage around in my boxes of spares and I don’t have a fall lock.

A fall lock differs from a till (drawer) lock in that the selvedge (the narrow area through which the bolt protrudes) is angled greater than 90° (usually between 100° and 110°). The end of the bolt also differs from a till lock’s by having three or four prongs (fig. 1).


Fig. 1. Typical brass fall lock with angled selvedge and four-pronged bolt.

If any of the restorers who read this blog – or anyone else for that matter – can spare me a period warded (not lever) lock in fair condition (an accompanying key would be a bonus, but isn’t essential) I should be very grateful indeed and willing to pay a fair price.

If you can assist, please either leave a comment (below), or email me (Intercourse in the navigation bar, above).

Jack Plane

About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
This entry was posted in Cabinet Fittings. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Seeking Long-Term Relationship…

    • Jack Plane says:

      Thank you for the link. I thought of making a lock myself; they’re not difficult to make, just time consuming.

      I would prefer a genuine example, but I will make a lock (or have one made) if nothing else turns up.



  1. LD says:

    Tried to access the periodlocks site, but only the main page functions for me. Perhaps the site is inactive, although the telephone and email information may be valid.


  2. I didn’t have any problems viewing the website (8:45 am EST. USA.) Sorry I cannot be of any assistance in your search for hardware Jack. I do enjoy your Blog.

    -Nathan W.


  3. Jack Plane says:

    As I couldn’t initially view details of the bureau lock on Period Locks’ non-functional site, I enquired about price and dimensions. I was quoted a price of £50 for the bureau lock, but when the site was refreshed, I noticed the published price is £65.

    In the images of the bureau lock, the selvedge appears to be 90° to the backplate. I asked for clarification on the angle, but have not received an answer as yet.



  4. Jack Plane says:

    I received this back from ‘Ben’… (with his consent)…

    “Apologies for delay have been really busy, the angle is 74degrees, I also have two different sized brass lock plates, one at 70mm wide by 56mm high plus return of 74 degrees, the return depth is 13 mm as on both.
    The second is larger at 79mm wide, 62mm high plus same return dimensions.

    The smaller lock would be £50, larger as website.”



    • Confur says:

      Also reminds me that I’ve see just a few “oldies” where the key pin is centered horizontaly on the plate… no discrepancy to adjust for , in or out. Tho the norm would be to centre the escutcheon on the fall and expect no one to notice the lock plate is up to 3/4″ off centre internally


      • Jack Plane says:

        I have also seen centred drill pins, but they necessitate larger backplates. Larger backplates could be considered unsightly and would have been more expensive.

        I don’t object to the look of off-centre backplates.



  5. Jim Pallas says:

    Would you explain the 110 degree angle on the lock. I’m guessing on seasonal movement. Also the theory on the 3 or four bolts. Since I first started following you this piece caught my eye and I am leaning towards giving it a go so lots of questions from me and notes to gather.


    • Jack Plane says:

      In theory, the obtuse angle of the fall’s flying edge (and lock’s selvedge) is to allow the fall to close without scraping the front edge of the top of the bureau (much the same as one would plane a relief angle on close fitting cabinet doors.

      In reality, the woodwork is often only a degree or two over 90° and just why the selvedge’s angle is so exaggerated is a mystery – to me, at least.

      Also a mystery to me is the practice of making bureau locks with three or four pronged bolts. There is no practical purpose that I can determine, so my assumption is that, as bureau locks are in one’s face, they were made of brass (the drawer locks were of iron) for aesthetics and the lock makers were simply showing off their skills.



  6. Lynn Bradford says:

    Interesting project, Jack. Since I just found your site, do you mind telling me if you found the lock you were searching for? If not, try . This place was filled with door locks, knobs and such. Not sure if they had anything for desks, but then they had 3 – 4 buildings of stuff. You might give it a whirl!


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