The Dale C. Maley Family Web Site

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Updating Web Page on 1st Giant Antique Lever Lock

I made this first giant lock back in 2012 and documented the build process on 1 of my web pages.  Unfortunately, my web site that hosted my pictures stopped supporting their web site, and I lost all of my photos.  This page recreates this site using a new photo web hoster.

December of 2012

In December of 2012, I had a request to build two of the Giant Antique Lever Locks from Tim's 2nd book:

 This is a giant lock that is almost 15 inches high when completed.

I entered the design into Google Sketchup, so I would better understand the locks design.....and be able to print out paper patterns to scale to make the components.


Material Selection

I decided to use pine for the front, middle, and back sections.  The original lock picture from the book looks like pine was used. I will use oak or walnut for the buttons, key hole overlay and maybe the hasp.

I bought common pine 1x12's from the local lumberyard, then carefully selected what sections to saw out for the lock.  I chose sections with no knots or defects for the lock pieces. 

This design calls for 3/4" diameter wood buttons. I have used 3/8" buttons before, but never have used 3/4" buttons. I ordered some 3/4" buttons from

Gluing up Blanks

 You must glue up a lot of blanks for this lock......if you are using 3/4" inch thick stock.  Because the center section of the lock is 1.5 inches thick, you must glue up the center lamination, the lever, and the shackle.

Here is a photo of the center laminations and levers clamped up after gluing:


 To make the hasps, I first had to glue up 2 pieces of 1x6 red oak 12 inches long, to net the roughly 10 inch wide hasp. To make 2 of these locks, here are the 4 blanks glued up and clamped.  Once they dry, I will need to glue them together to make them 1.5 inches thick:

Making the 1/8" Thick Keyhole Trim Piece

 I have found it not to be safe to plane below about 1/4" on my power planers. The slightest knot will cause the piece to explode.

I chose to use the table saw to make the 1/8" thick pieces.

First, I glued on the pattern to a piece of 3/4" thick oak.  Then I drilled out the 2 holes and scroll the rest of the ID work:

Table Saw to slice to 1/8" thickness on keyhole cover

I then adjusted my table saw fence to saw off a 1/8" thick slice from the 3/4" wide oak board that is 2 inches tall. I made the piece 6" inches long to give more stability to the table saw cut:

 I used 2 push-sticks, one to feed the piece and the other to push against the fence. This is still a difficult cut. Maybe gluing another 3/4" thick board at 90 degrees to the board being cut would make it even safer. I did take 2 cuts to make each 1/8" thick piece........half-way up with the blade first, then clear up to separate the pieces.  I still had a little burning of the red oak, as you can see in the picture.

Feb 2021 NOTE:
Since I did this project 9 years ago, I have planed wood down to 1/8" in my planer fine, as long as it is at least about 9 inches long. If I make another giant lock,  I should just plane it down.

Making Oak Blanks for Hasp

 I normally use 1x6 or 3/4 x 5.5 inches actual dimension red oak boards.  Because the hasp is 1.5 inches thick, I had to go through 2 glue and clamp operations. The first to glue 2 boards together to get the width needed for the hasp. The second to increase the thickness from 3/4 to 1.5 inches.  I wanted to be able to "kiss" plane the 2 boards glued together for width before I glued them together for the 1.5 inch thickness.  Therefore, I sawed 8 pieces of 3/4x5.5 inch red oak to 12 inches in length. The 12 inches makes it safe to plane them in my power planer.  So one lock takes 4 feet of 3/4 x 5.5 inch red oak.

Lever Arms

 I glued the pattern printed from Sketchup onto the blanks using white Elmer's glue.  When the lever has been sawn out using the band saw, I remove the remaining paper by rubbing the piece with a wet dish rag.


 Since I am making 2 keys, I started by sawing a piece of 1 inch dowel rod to twice the length of one key, to net 2 keys. I then used my vise to hold the blank while I scroll sawed the end slot.  On previous locks, I used the big band saw versus the scroll saw.....either one works.

Working the Front Face

Rather than glue on the paper pattern from Sketchup, I elected to use 2 thumb tacks and carbon paper to trace the 4 button holes and key slot into the each lock face.  This saves the time of having to wash and rub off the pattern from each of these 2 relatively large front faces.

Trial Assembly without Ash Spring

On previous lock projects where the shackle was only 3/4" thick, I band-sawed the shackle just outside the pattern lines, then used my drill press drum sander to sand them exactly to size.  I used the same technique on this large shackle, and it did not work.  The 1.5" red oak thickness was too much material for the drum to remove in a timely fashion.  I switched to scroll sawing the shackle, and sawing exactly to the pattern line.  Then I could use the drum sander to smooth and remove any burn marks from the saw.

Johnson Wax

I used Johnson's Wax to lubricate any moving parts in projects that I build:

Sawing Out the Shackles or Hasps:

I started out using the very fine #3 blade to saw these out, but it took a long time and I got some wood burning.  I switched to a coarser pinned end blade and it worked very well:

Reducing the Thickness of the Inner Parts

 The shackle, lever, and sliding bar must be reduced in thickness by 1/16" less than the 1.5 inch thick center section. This is to allow some clearance so these parts do not bind up.  I used my low cost Harbor Freight belt sander to sand off 1/16" from each of the pieces:

Square Hole in Shackle for Engaging sliding PIn

 I clamped each shackle in my small vise, then used a 1/2" inch Forstner bit to drill out the hole.  I used a 1/4" inch chisel to square up the corners.......

Functional Check before final assembly

 I drilled the 3/8" inch hole in the back piece and inserted a 3/8" I could make sure the whole assembly worked ok before final gluing and clamping.  After final assembly, I will drill from the back side through the front side so I get good alignment on the set of holes for the dowel pin.

The final assemblies are shown below:

 Here is one lock removed from the final is huge!

Sawing out the Main Lock Body

These locks are so big that I could barely fit them into my Sears 12 inch band-saw.  I had to first rough saw out the corners so I could rotate them in the band saw.  I marked the pattern onto the main lock body using carbon save the time of making two paper patterns and removing the large amount of white glue if I glued on the patterns.  Once I sawed them out, I drum sanded with the my 3 inch long drum on the drill press.  I then used my router and a 3/8" round-over carbide bit to round the edges.

Staining the Red Oak Parts

 I sanded the red oak pieces (shackles, keys, keyhole covers, and 3/4" buttons) with 220 grit sandpaper, then removed the dust using a wet dishrag.  I masking taped the shackles so only the oak was stained. The 1" round birch dowel was not stained.

I decided to glue the keyhole covers and buttons onto the main lock body at this stage versus varnishing them separately and do final assembly at the end of the process.  I was concerned the key hole covers would not glue and stick to the main lock body if varnish was on the main lock body already.

The Finished Lock

Concluding Thoughts on Giant Antique Lever Locks

 Because this lock design is so physically big, it takes a lot of lumber to build them.  The oak shackle took 8 pieces of 1x6" red oak, or 8 feet.  The front, center, and back pieces of the lock consume a lot of wood.  I chose pine for this project because the original lock photo from Tim's 2nd book looks like he used pine for the main body of the lock.  If a hardwood was used for the main body of the lock versus pine, the cost of the hardwood would be a significant factor in the total cost of the lock.

I had no trouble making the first key for this project.  I was not happy with the 2nd key because the round ring did not line up exactly with the angular orientation of the key ends. I messed up the 2nd attempt on the 2nd key because I glued the end piece on the wrong way.  The 3rd attempt on the 2nd key turned out fine. I prefer the key design of the 1856 railroad lock, because it is much simpler to make.

If you use hardwood for the hasp or shackle, I would recommend scroll sawing them to exactly the pattern line. Do not band saw to just outside the line, because the drum sander on the drill press will not be able to remove the excess stock in a timely fashion.

If I made more of these locks, I would tilt the bottom slot for the ash spring about 5 degrees towards the left hand side of the lock. This would help make sure the spring starts against the left hand side of the spring vertical guide.