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Thread: Cabin Door Latch

  1. #1
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    Default Cabin Door Latch

    Hi all - I've been watching, reading, and learning lots from folks who have built cabins. I'm in the process of building a cabin north of Anchorage off the Yentna.

    I've got a question about a door latch. I've built a door out of tongue and groove. I'll hang it with black iron strap hinges. I'm wondering what to do for a latch and handle. I've looked at the thumb latches made for gates, but am looking for something a little beefier. I'd also like to be able to lock it.

    I'd appreciate any ideas from those who have been down this road. Thanks!

  2. #2

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    When you hang the door a cabin is way different than a house. Hang it so it swings to the outside, that way when critters push on it, the jam helps hold it as well as the latch. You can easily get by with a gate latch if you do this.
    "96% of all Internet Quotes are suspect and the remaining 4% are fiction."
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  3. #3

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    Trouble is, when you get 3 feet of snow against the door, you can't get out

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by 257wby View Post
    Trouble is, when you get 3 feet of snow against the door, you can't get out
    heh heh That's another thing to consider about Cabins in Alaska. ALWAYS put a covered porch on the doorways. Nothig worse than having to dig out the doorway to get IN OR OUT.
    "96% of all Internet Quotes are suspect and the remaining 4% are fiction."
    ~~Abraham Lincoln~~

  5. #5
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    I found an old abandoned cabin in the hills in Wy. It had a door latch made from old wagon stake pockets. They are 1/8" x 3/4" steel strap, bent to allow a 3/4" x 2" tarp hoop or box extension stakes to fit in them. These parts were set up to allow a wood sliding bolt to pass thru them to secure the door. I used it for a pattern and had some made at a local welding shop. Here's a pic. I use an oak bolt for the slider, and a hardwood dowel for the handle to go thru the door. I accraglass and nail the handle in place in the bolt. So far I haven't had one come loose in a half dozen I've done. I use 5/16" carriage bolts to bolt the straps thru the door. The bolt slides into a chiselled mortise in the door jamb. I use 3" x 12"-14" planks for door jambs. I've been using wood float (concrete hand float) handles for door handles. To lock the slider when inside, I drill a small hole and use a wood peg to stop the slider. I use tie pegs available at craft or hardware stores. For locking when gone, a padlock and hasp work. I set mine up so the hasp folds into the door opening when not in use, so no practical (or otherwise) joker can lock me in. I also put in another lock inside, as the picture shows, when bears started becoming more frequent in the neighborhood.

    I like traditional style stuff, so black all my shiny zinc plated hardware with gun blue. The super blue works best, and isnt reusable after doing the zinc stuff. I use square washers also. They can be ordered if they arent on the shelf.



  6. #6
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    I like the latch but I think I like the gun rack even better!!

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    Oops, I meant square nuts, not washers.

    Thanks LuJon. I used the same tie pegs to keep the rifles from falling over. The pistol part of the rack is a combintaion of 16p framing nails, and handmade twisted iron hooks.

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    Malamute - Thanks! That is a great idea. I think I'll go that route. My cabin isn't log, but 2x6 walls. Should have plenty of meat for the slider.

    I also like the idea of blueing the zinc hardware.

  9. #9
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    If there isnt enough room in the jamb to make a mortise, you can use another steel strap for the wall end of the slider.


    When I blue the zinc stuff, I pour a pit of the gun blue in a small butter tub and do the ends that show. When it gets odd colored and quits darkening well, dump it out and put some more blue in. If you put the used stuff back in the bottle, it will kill the whole bottle.

    I paint my hinges flat black. I like to bevel the exposed face edges also, gives it a nice effect. Same with the steel straps for the slider. All the old original ones I've seen had the edges nicely beveled. I've found that two large T hinges arent quite enough for a heavy door, three is much better. Oiling them now and then helps them from wearing so much also.

    The float handles have all been Marshalltown that I've gotten, if they have any trouble finding them on the shelf or books at your hardware store. They take 1/4" carriage bolts. I match them on both sides to use one pair of bolts for both handles.

    If you do this, look at the location of the slider handle and door handle. The door can be operated one handed when the slider handle is like in the pic. Your thumb can work the slider with your hand on the door handle.

    Oh, and I'd suggest putting a bit of a bevel on the edge of the door. Making it too tight to start with on the side that opens can lead to an embarrasing moment. Like the door not opening after you hang it. A thick door gets wider at its outside edge when it starts to open, hence the slight bevel on that edge to create clearance. I used full 1" rough cut door stop, so had plenty of room to weatherstrip after the bevel.

  10. #10
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    More good advice - thanks!

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