Hardware Glossary

The world of antique hardware and home restoration is rife with product-specific terminology and industry jargon. Below are some common terms and concepts to help with your project.

  A - C

  3-Way Switch

Push button switch that allows a light fixture to be operated from two places. Example: Install two switches one at either end of a hallway or stairway.


A stylized ornamental motif based on a characteristic Mediterranean plant with jagged leaves, Acanthus Spinosus. It was first used by the Greeks in the 5th century BC, and remained a favorite motif of Neo-Classical design thereafter.


A vertical strip of moulding applied to one or both doors of a pair at their meeting edges (meeting stiles).The astragal closes the clearance gap for the purpose of either providing a weather seal, preventing sound from leaking in or out of a room, minimizing the passage of light between the doors, or retarding the passage of smoke or flame during a fire.

  Back Plate

Door knob escutcheon usually larger than a rosette. Back plates come in many different sizes and shapes, and range from plain to highly decorative.


This is the horizontal measurement from the edge of the door to the center of the hole bored through the door. On a lock or latch this is the distance from the front of the face plate to the center of the door knob hub.

The backset of the lock or latch needs to match the backset of the pre drilled hole in order to install the hardware without modifying the door. Tubular latches for standard doorsets are usually 2⅜" or 2¾" backset. For interior mortise locks, the most common backsets are 2¼", 2⅜" and 2⅝". For entry mortise locks the backset is usually 2½" or 2¾".


Originally a slightly cupped ring placed over the socket of a candle holder to catch the drippings of a candle; in gas and electric lighting used under the flame or candle arm as a decorative accent. A bobeche may be made of crystal, metal or glass.

  Boot Size

The hole or vent size in which the mounting flange of a grate or register fits into to mount on the floor, ceiling or wall.


The hole drilled through the thickness of a door to allow a lock or latch to be installed. Modern doors if pre-drilled have a 2⅛" hole

  Bowl-Light Fixture

A chandelier or close ceiling mounted fixture consisting of a large, single bowl-type shade suspended from the canopy by 3 or 4 chains or rods. On some fixtures the bowl is set into a large metal ring, while on others the chains or rod attach directly to the shade via a clip or hook.

  Brass Aging Solution

Brass Aging Solution: A solution of chemicals which will oxidize un-lacquered brass to a desired patina and give it a darker antique look.

  CC or CTC

The measurement on a cabinet or furniture pull between the centers of the screw holes or mounting posts. Also called center to center.


The part of a fixture that mounts to the ceiling or wall and covers the junction box to which the fixture attaches. The dimensions of the canopy must be larger than those of the junction box.

  Carpet Hold

A piece of metal hardware which is used to hold the ends of a carpet runner against the rise of the top and bottom stairs.

  Carpet Rod

A rod mounted with a bracket on each end to hold down a carpet runner at the bottom of each step of a staircase. Carpet rods are either tubular or solid, often brass, and are used now primarily to add decoration to a staircase.

  Carpet Runner

A carpet that "runs" up a staircase and is usually nailed or stapled to the steps.

  Casement Stay

A hinged or pivoting rod attached to the base of a casement (side hinged)
window and the horizontal sill, allowing the window to be held open at various angles.

  Casement Window

A window that is hinged at the side and opens outward.


Process where molten brass, iron or other metals are poured and formed in molds often made of sand. The products made in this manner are often thick and heavy.


A fixed or offset pivoting wheel that is attached to the leg of a piece of
furniture, allowing it to be rolled.


A hanging ceiling fixture that has multiple arms or lights

  Close Mount Light Fixture

A fixture of one or more lights, whose sockets are suspended a short distance form the ceiling pan or canopy via a chain or rod arm. (See also Flush Mount Light Fixture).


Raised portion of a door knob escutcheon in which the door knob seats.


A decorative or weight-bearing bracket made of wood, brick or stone, projecting from the face of a wall and supporting (or giving the appearance of supporting) a shelf, roof, or other overhang.


A horizontal molded projection that crowns or completes a building or wall.

  Cremone Bolt

A surface mounted door bolt operated by a knob or lever which locks into the door frame at the top and the bottom and spans the door surface.

  D - F


Another name for a GFI outlet.


One of a series of small rectangular blocks projecting like teeth from a molding or beneath a cornice.

  Door Buzzer Button

A decorative accent used to replace the button which operates an existing electric doorbell. The buzzer button alone does not make sounds it must be wired to a buzzer and transformer.

  Door Set

A set of parts for one door including door handles and back plates and depending upon the function (passage, privacy or dummy) may also include a latch, lock, strike plate and/or dummy spindles.

  Double Cylinder

Keyed cylinders on the inside and outside of an entry door that operate a deadbolt. This is commonly used on entry doors with glass in them.

  Double Hung

Double hung windows have top and bottom sashes that slide up and down to open or close.

  Dummy Set

Door knob or lever trim that is surface mounted to a door and does not operate a latch. The knob does not turn and is used as a push/pull typically on closet doors. Trim for one side of a door is called a single dummy set and for both sides is called a double dummy set.

  Duplex Switch Plate

Metal cover plate which has two cutouts aligned vertically to cover a duplex receptacle which is a standard electrical outlet.

  Dust Corners

Small decorative accents for stairways which keep the dust out of the corners.

  Edge Pull

Retractable handle which mounts flush on the edge of a pocket door to allow the door to be pulled out of the wall pocket.

  Edison Bulb

A low wattage carbon filament light bulb that emits a soft glow and is ideal for antique light fixtures. These are long life bulbs that can be installed pointing up or down.

  Entry Handle

A door handle usually mounted on a large back plate which is used for dummy doors or doors that do not latch.

  Entry Mortise Lock

A large mortise lock that is operated by knobs, levers or thumb latches and has either a modern keyed cylinder or a skeleton key operated deadbolt.


Another word for a door plate, rosette or keyhole cover.


A cremone bolt used for french or casement windows.


The plate on the front of a lock or latch which is visible on the edge of a door.


Decorative tip on the top and bottom of a hinge knuckle or other hardware. Most common are ball and steeple finials but many different types exist.


The surface appearance of a piece of metal hardware which is achieved through various chemical and mechanical means.


The fitter is the lip-shaped part of the shade that is inserted into the fixture and held in place by set screws. The fitter size is measured across its full width, including the thickness of the glass. Typical fitter diameters are: 2¼", 3¼", 4", 6", 10" and 12". The shade holder on the fixture may also be referred to as the fitter. To determine the correct size shade for your fixture, simply measure the inner diameter of the shade holder on your fixture. Select a shade with a corresponding fitter diameter. See the diagram. Browse our glass light shades and find the perfect match.

  Floor Grate

A metal piece, usually cast brass or cast iron, used to cover and decorate vent holes for return air ducts.

  Floor Register

A floor grate that has a louver for adjusting airflow.

  Flush Bolt

A bolt which is mortised into the edge of a door at the top and/or bottom and is typically used to hold the passive door, of a set of double doors, closed.

  Flush Mount Light Fixture

A fixture of one or more lights, whose sockets are mounted directly on the ceiling pan or canopy. (See also Close Mount Light Fixture).


Process of forming brass or other metals into a particular shape by heating the metal and hand pounding or cutting with high pressure dies. Items made in this way are very strong and heavy.

  G - L

  GFI Cover Plate

Electrical wall plate with a rectangular cutout that is 2916" tall by 1516" wide and is designed to cover Ground Fault Interrupt receptacles and modern rocker/dimmer switches. The GFI is also known as decora style.


A gable roof with two slopes on each side and the lower slope being steeper.


The generally triangular section of wall at the end of a pitched roof, occupying the space between the two slopes of the roof or as an ornamental architectural section, as one above an arched door or window.

  Half-mortise Hinge

A hinge where one leaf is mortised into the door jamb while the other is mounted to the front surface of the door.

  Handrail Bracket

A metal bracket which is used to attach a wooden railing to the wall of a stairway.


"Height from Center of Wall Opening" - The measurement from the top of the lighting fixture to the center of the outlet box when installed.


A hipped roof has sloping ends rather than gables.


A square or star shaped hole in a lock or latch which a spindle goes through to operate the latch bolt or dead bolt.

  Junction Box

The octagonal metal box inset within the wall or ceiling, which contains the house wiring, and to which the light fixture is attached. The junction box must be entirely covered by the fixture's canopy. (See Canopy.)

  Keyhole Cover

Small escutcheon for decorating a keyhole in a door or piece of furniture.

  Kick Plate

A plate which spans the bottom of a door to protect the wood on heavy traffic doors.

  Knob Shank

The cylindrical base of a door knob or lever which receives the spindle.


The cylindrical middle portion of a hinge where the two leaves come together and which holds the hinge pin.


A surface coating which is used to protect the finish of a metal from oxidizing.

  Latch Bolt

The "tongue" piece of a lock or latch which holds the door closed when the door knob is released.

  Lift Off Hinge

A handed hinge which has two knuckles and the pin is connected to one of the leaves. The hinge is easily separated by lifting the leaf connected to the top knuckle allowing the door to be lifted off in one step.

  Living Finish

A finish that is not lacquered and intended to change over time such as Oil Rubbed Bronze.

  Loose Pin

Loose Pin refers to hinges which have one finial attached to the hinge pin which can be pulled out easily to separate the two leaves of the hinge.


A piece of hardware that consists of a row of slats which are operated by a lever or a screw adjustment and which is used to control airflow through an air vent. The louver is also called a damper and attaches to the underside of a floor grate.

  M - Q

  Mansard Roof

A four-sided roof having a double slope on all sides, with the lower slope much steeper than the upper.

  Mail Slot Sleeve

A metal insert used on hollow core doors when installing a mail slot.

  Mortise Lock

Old style box lock that is installed into a deep pocket or "mortise" in the edge of the door. Generally, the mortise lock houses both the latch and dead bolt in one unit.

  Mortise Shutter Hinge

A hinge that is mortised into the edge of the shutter and the inside of the window frame in the same way a door butt hinge is attached.

  Mortise Strike

Refers to a casement latch, for windows that open out, a mortise strike is mortised into the side of the window frame and the latch hooks in to it to hold the window shut.

  National Electric Code

The National Electrical Code, as well as laws in the majority of states, A code that requires that lamps and fixtures be tested by a recognized, independent safety-testing agency before they can be legally sold and installed. All fixtures sold by House of Antique Hardware are UL certified.

  Non-Mortise Hinge

A hinge which has thin leaves allowing them to be mounted on the edge of a cabinet door without having to be mortised.

  Offset Cabinet Hinge

Where a cabinet or furniture door projects out from the surface of the frame an offset hinge is surface mounted to the door and frame with an offset, usually ⅜".

  On Center

The measurement on a cabinet or furniture pull between the centers of the screw holes or mounting posts. Also called center to center or boring. Also used for the distance between the bore holes of a tubular latch and a deadbolt.

  Pan Fixture

A close/flush ceiling mounted or hanging fixture with multiple lights suspended via chain or rod from a large round or square pan


A low protective wall or railing along the edge of a raised structure such as a roof or balcony.

  Parliament Hinge

An "H" shaped hinge that is wider than it is tall to allow for a door or window to swing clear of the trim and lay flat when opened.

  Passage Set

A door set in which there is a latch but no lock.


A wide, low-pitched gable surmounting the façade of a building in the Grecian style.

  Pendant Light Fixtures

A simple fixture of one or two lights extending from the ceiling canopy by a chain or rod

  Picture Rail Molding

A piece of wood trim on which picture rail hooks can hang from the top of to hold pictures or picture hanging cord.


A rectangular column with a capital and base, projecting only slightly from a wall as an ornamental motif.

  Pocket Door Pull

A nearly flush escutcheon for pocket or sliding doors with a recessed portion allowing the door to fit in the wall pocket and still be pulled open and shut.

  Privacy Set

A door set which has a latch and a locking feature, ideal for bedrooms and bathrooms. Tubular privacy sets use a push button which disables the latch on one side of the door. Privacy mortise locks sets use a thumb turn to operate a deadbolt lock.

  Push Plate

Door plate which is used to protect the wood of a door which closes automatically and usually has a pull handle on the other side.


"Physical Vapour Deposition" is the process we shorten to PVD. It is a state of the art development which deposits molecules of very hard wearing metals on to a selected surface. This process lends itself well to exterior hardware (such as an entry door-set or bathroom & kitchen fixtures) or items that will be subjected to a great deal of wear, either physical or from the elements.

The microscopic layer that is produced will protect the brass from oxidation, abrasion and wear found under normal use. Minimal maintenance is required simply wiping over with a damp cloth is normally sufficient.

Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) comprises a group of surface coating technologies used for decorative coating, tool coating, and other equipment coating applications. It is fundamentally a vaporization coating process in which the basic mechanism is an atom by atom transfer of material from the solid phase to the vapor phase and back to the solid phase, gradually building a film on the surface to be coated. In the case of reactive deposition, the depositing material reacts with a gaseous environment of co-deposited material to form a film of compound material, such as a nitride, oxide, carbide or carbonitride.

PVD is a desirable alternative to electroplating and possibly some painting applications because it generates less hazardous waste and uses less hazardous materials (i.e., no plating baths). PVD can be applied using a wide variety of materials to coat an equally diverse number of substrates using any of the three basic PVD technologies to deposit a number of desired finishes of variable thickness with specific characteristics.

  • PVD coatings are sometimes harder and more corrosion resistant than coatings applied by the electroplating process. Most coatings have high temperature and good impact strength, excellent abrasion resistance and are so durable that protective topcoats are almost never necessary.

  • Ability to utilize virtually any type of inorganic and some organic coating materials on an equally diverse group of substrates and surfaces using a wide variety of finishes.

  • More environmentally friendly than traditional coating processes such as electroplating and painting.

  • More than one technique can be used to deposit a given film.

An exterior angle of a wall or other piece of masonry often being of large size and dressed or arranged so as to form a decorative contrast with the adjoining walls.

  R - S


This term is used for a pair of double doors which have the joining edges shaped so that one overlaps the other and creates a seal. For this application a lock with a special shaped face plate is required to fit this type of door junction. Rebated is also called rabbeted.

  Rim Keeper

The metal plate which is attached to the door jamb to hold the latch and/or dead bolt of a rim lock keeping the door latched and/or locked.

  Rim Lock

A box type door lock which is mounted to the surface of a door typically used for thin doors.

  Rim Strike

For casement windows that open in, a rim strike is used when the sash is offset from the window frame.


A small door knob escutcheon usually round with a hole in the middle into which the door knob shank fits. A rosette fits on the door between the knob and the door to cover the bore hole and provide a metal surface for the door knob to rotate on when turned.


The frame that holds the glass panes in a window.

  Sash Cord/Chain

Chain or cord which attaches to a sash window and a weight and runs over a pulley mounted in the side of the window frame.

  Sash Lift

A piece of hardware mounted to a window sash to allow it to be raised. There are different types including finger lifts, bar handles and flush lifts.

  Sash Lock

A turn lock that mounts to the top of the bottom sash and locks into the catch which is attached to the bottom of the top sash to prevent the window from being opened.

  Sash Pulley

Used in conjunction with sash cord and weights to allow double or single hung windows to stay open.

  Sash Stay

Piece of metal hardware which attaches to the window sash and allows the window to be held open in various positions.


A wall mounted fixture typically used as accent lighting in living, dining, or bedrooms, as primary lighting in bathrooms, or on a porch. Sconces may consist of single or multiple lights, with either candle arms or glass shades, or a combination of both.

  Screen Door

Wooden door usually between ⅞" and 1 ⅝" thick that has a screen or glass pane.

  Screen Door Hinge

A surface mounted hinge with spring tension to make the door swing shut.

  Shade Holder

The part of a fixture into which the "fitter" of the glass shades is inserted and held in place by 3 or 4 set screws. Shade-holder sizes correspond to shade "fitter" sizes, although typically they measure slightly larger than the actual shade fitter.

  Shutter Dog

A piece of hardware that rotates to hold a window shutter open on the exterior of a building, also called a tie back.

  Single Hung

Single hung windows have a top and bottom sash but only the bottom sash slides upward to open.

  Skeleton Key

Also called a bit key, a skeleton key is an old style key which operates a mortise or rim lock.


The square, often threaded rod to which a door knob or lever attaches. The spindle fits through the hub of a lock or latch so that when the knob is turned the latch bolt is retracted so the door may be opened.

  Square Nails

Old style iron nails which have four sides and are used for many things including flooring.


Process of forming brass or other metals by using a thin sheet and pressing or stamping it into a mold. Stamped is the same as pressed or wrought and is thin compared with forged or cast items.

  Strap Hinge

A long surface mounted hinge used on doors and shutters.

  Strike Plate

The plate with cutouts that attaches to the door jamb into which the latch and dead bolt are trapped to either lock or latch a door.

  Surface Bolt

A bolt usually brass or iron which is mounted to the door or window surface and locks into a strike plate on the door jamb or window frame to hold the door or window closed.

  Surface Hinge

Also called flush or full surface, a surface hinge is one which is mounted to the face of the door and door frame so that the entire hinge is visible when the door is closed.

  Surface Strike

For a pair of double casement windows that open in or out, a surface strike is used.

  Swinging Door Hinge

A floor mounted hinge with spring tension that allows a door to swing in or out of a room and return to the closed position when let go. Also called double acting floor hinge or pivoting door assembly.

  T - Z


Usually refers to an entry door set which has lever above the handle which when depressed by the thumb unlatches the door.


Also called turnkey, is usually an oval or crescent shaped knob which is turned to operate the dead bolt of a privacy or entry mortise lock. Thumbturns can be mounted on a door knob backplate in place of a keyhole or can be separate pieces with their own small trim plate.

  Toe Cap

A decorative piece, usually brass, that is attached to the bottom of a table leg or the leg of a standing cabinet.

  Toggle Switch Plate

Metal cover plate with a small rectangular cutout which is designed for modern light switches that toggle up and down for on/off.


A horizontal crosspiece over a door or between a door and a window above it.

  Transom Operator

A hardware apparatus that is affixed to the wall and allows a transom window to be opened without using a hook and pole.

Window hinged at the bottom

Window hinged at the top

  Transom Window

Small window near the ceiling often above a door or other window that is typically hinged at the bottom and opens in.


Another word for the set of door knobs, levers, thumb turns, thumb latches, back plates and/or keyhole covers that are mounted to the surface of a door and operate the latch or lock.

  Tubular Latch

A cylindrical door latch that is installed into the edge of the door and is operated by a knob or lever via the spindle.

  UL Damp Rating

A fixture with a UL Damp Rating may be used in sheltered outdoor areas that are protected from direct contact with rain, snow, or excessive moisture (such as ocean spray).

  UL Dry Rating

A fixture with a UL Dry Rating may be used in any area, usually indoors, which is not directly exposed to excessive moisture and water. Any fixture with a UL label that is not explicitly rated for wet or damp applications should be considered a UL dry location fixture.

  UL Wet Rating

A fixture with a UL Wet Rating is suitable for outdoor locations that receive direct contact with rain, snow or excessive moisture (such as fog or ocean spray).

  Underwriters Laboratory

Underwriters Laboratories is a nationally recognized, independent product safety certification organization. UL is also affiliated with the Underwriters' Laboratories of Canada (CUL).

  Wall Bracket

The older term for wall-mounted lighting. Wall brackets are typically used as accent lighting in living, dining, or bedrooms, as primary lighting in bathrooms, or on a porch. Wall brackets may consist of single or multiple lights, with either candle arms or glass shades, or a combination of both.

  Wrought Iron

Word Origin
The word wrought is the old past tense of the verb to work. As irregular past-tense forms in English have historically been phased out over long periods of time, wrought became worked. Wrought iron literally means worked iron.

Wrought iron is a tough, malleable, ductile (bends or flows under shear stress) and can be easily welded. However, it is too soft to make blades and swords, or at least for their cutting edges, which need to be made of steel with a higher carbon content.

The Material - Wrought Iron

The making of wrought iron became established in Europe about 500 B.C. and was shaped by smelters or the indirect blast furnace process. The wrought iron was much harder than bronze, and the iron ores were more widely distributed. The other ingredient, charcoal, was also readily available.
Wrought iron, though not as hard as steel, did have a quality superior to steel in that it resisted rusting due to its silica, or glass, content. The silica arranged itself in thin layers in the wrought iron and restricted the formation of rust.

The eastern coast of North America was found to have considerable deposits of iron ore and the ample forest cover provided an excellent supply of charcoal to fuel the blast furnaces of the day, although a number of processes devised in the second half of the 18th century were used for making wrought iron without it.

The colonies exported a good amount of iron bar to England before the Revolution. During the Revolution bog iron from the New Jersey pine barrens supplied iron to cast cannons for our revolutionary forces.

After the Revolution iron production dropped off until the country reorganized. After that point iron, and then steel production grew at a phenomenal rate to support the great expansion of new industry and the great expansion west.

Wrought iron with its ductile rust resistant qualities is just about nonexistent today. We use the term wrought as an adjective concerning iron not as the very important noun it used to be.

The of the mild steels we use today to make the types of objects from an earlier time, may not resist rust to the degree wrought iron did but our improvements in metal coatings may help a bit.