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How to Fit a Rebated Door Latch on an Internal French Door

how to install a rebate door latch

Do you remember almost two years ago we bought a pair of secondhand glazed doors for our conservatory and fitted them? Two years ago. Well, we never got round to fitting any door handles. I know, it's shocking. Truth be told, the handles I had bought turned out to be way too big for the door. They protruded like crazy and for such a small door, just didn't look right. I think they were actually meant to be for an external door (oops!), so we never fitted them.

Now, two years on, I'm on a mission to get finishing all these little niggly jobs off, so the time has finally come to sourcing new handles and getting them fit!

internal french door for conservatory

If you can't remember the door, here it is. It was secondhand from eBay (just £25 would you believe?!), but the sellers had never got round to fitting it themselves, so it's essentially new. That said, it'd been in storage for almost 10 years apparently, so it does have a very rustic imperfect look to it. However, I quite like that as it fits in against all our other original period doors! We reglazed the door with new glass and after much effort, we hung it into position.

It's not hung perfectly, I'll admit. It's a new door in a very old and twisted frame and let's just say, that didn't make hanging it easy. We had to chisel out a bit of the frame, plane the doors and hang them very slightly off-angle to compensate for the slightly leaning wall. Oh so awkward! The beauty of an old house eh? Anyway, as long as you don't look too hard, you can't tell (I hope).

Fitting handles into this door was a whole new challenge we hadn't accounted before as being french doors, they're a little different to a normal door. They each have a kind-of lip (rebate) on the side of them where they close against one another.

french door with lip on side

It meant fitting a latch was going to be a little more awkward and required a couple of extra parts. So in case you have a door that's similar, I thought I would share what we did!



Things You Will Need:

  • Chisel
  • Hammer
  • Flat Wood Drill Bit
  • Door Latch
  • Rebate Kit
  • Door Handles

The most important part of this 'how-to' is to make sure your latch isn't too long for your door. For example, the below latch is perfect as the hole where the handle goes will be central on the door. Some latches are much longer than this and would otherwise go all the way into the glass. Make sure you buy the right size!

how to fit latch in wooden french door

The second important part of this 'how-to', is to buy a rebate kit. Unlike a normal door, where you would fully recess the latch into the door and it would close against a frame, with a rebated double door like ours, the latch actually needs to sit partly out from being fully inside the door. This means the back of the latch would be visible, but, a rebate kit hides this. On the secondary door, the other part of the latch, known as a striking plate, has a bend in it which allows it to sit flush against the lip. Am I making sense yet?

Here's what a rebate kit looks like (ours is from The Handle King and cost just a few quid):

how to fit a rebate kit

Thirdly, you want a SHARP chisel. Ours was definitely not sharp enough, but luckily the chiselled parts won't be on show.

Anyway, with that out the way, here's how we fitted 'em...

Step 1 - Mark Up a Height for the Handles

Usually, I would have matched the height of the handles to the same as all our other doors. However, since our other doors are completely different style doors with different handles we went a little higher than normal. Plus, I didn't want the handle to bash against the kitchen worktop on the left as it opens.

Whatever height you decide, you'll need to mark out the height of where you'll fit the handles and then continue this onto the side of the door too. 



how to fit door handles DIY

Step 2 - Chisel out Rebate in Door

As mentioned previously, our door has a rebate that allows the doors to close against one another perfectly. Trying to drill straight onto the protruding 'lip' would have been a recipe for disaster (ie, the drill would probably slip and gauge the door somewhere else), so we decided to chisel the lip out the way first. The amount we chiselled is half the size of the latch, as this needs to be fit centrally into the door.

fitting a latch on a door with a lip
Fitting a late on a rebated french door



Step 3 - Drill a Hole for the Latch

Now you have a flat surface to drill into, you can use a flat wood bit that matches/slightly bigger than the size of the latch. When drilling, make sure you don't go too far into the door (ie, when you hit the glass you've gone too far!), we always use tape around the drill bit, so we know when to stop.

Flat drill bit for latch
how to fit a mortice latch in door
Drilling into the side of a door with flat wood bit

Once you've done this, the latch should slot in without any trouble. If not, you may need to chisel a little extra for the corners of the latch, like we did. The front of the latch should, however, fit flush against the front lip when you're done.



how to fit a rebated door latch
Rebated door latch on french door

Step 4 - Chisel Around Front Face of Latch

As you can see from the photo above, the back of the latch is visible. This is where the rebate kit comes in. It slots in around this 'gap' to give it a 'boxed' finish. However, to install this, you'll need to chisel away the lip to slot it in. To do this, simply draw around the front of the latch and chisel away.

You also need to chisel deep enough so the front of the latch will also be recessed into the wood too. It should fit perfectly flush and in-line with the front lip of the door for the most professional and proper finish. This is all a little hard to explain, but hopefully, the following photos will explain how this all works... 

how to chisel around a latch
chiselling out a door for a latch
Fitting a rebate door latch


how to use a rebate kit
rebate kit on french door

Is this is all making sense now? The latch needs to be flush with the front lip and not set back fully into the rebate, otherwise, the closing mechanism of the latch won't work. The rebate kit simply 'boxes' the latch out from the door. I'd just like to say, Grant did all this work, (I just took the photos!) and I think he did a pretty decent job for a first-timer, don't you think?!

Step 5 - Mark up the Position for the Strike Plate

So that's not the end of this guide I'm afraid - we still have the other side of the latch to fit, otherwise known as the strike plate. Unlike a normal door, the one we need to use is a rebated strike latch, which basically has a bend in it. This bend will fit flush against the back of the lip on the secondary door.

To install this, we closed the door slightly and marked up the position where the strike plate needed to go.

how to install a strike plate
how to fit a rebate strike plate



Step 6 - Chisel Lip for Strike Plate

Just like the latch, the strike plate must also be installed dead centre in the side of the door. Once you've drawn up where this will go, you can go ahead and chisel along the lip for the strike plate to slot into.

We found this side much harder to chisel. Partly because we'd annoying located it over a knot (eurgh!) and also because the amount we had to chisel would only leave about a 2mm bit of wood on the lip. It was tense, let's just say.

chiselling on french door

Once we'd chiselled enough of the lip out, we then chiselled another couple of millimetres for the rest of the plate to recess into (just like we did on the other side!). We also chiselled out the centre part where the latch will catch on the plate. Like this:

rebate kit french door
rebated strike plate on door


Step 7 - Drill Hole for Handles

So the hard part is now over! All you need to do now is work out where you need to drill the hole for the door handle. We removed the latch to mark this up and then drilled straight through the door with a suitable drill bit. You can then insert the spindle (cut to size if you need to!) and screw the handles straight onto the door.



fitting handles on glazed door
DIY fitting a door handle
Door Furniture Direct Satin Nickel Knobs

The handles we're using are Satin Nickel Mushroom Knobs, gifted from Door Furniture Direct. They're the exact same brand as the ones we bought before (and didn't use) but smaller in size and without the 'beehive effect'. We went for satin nickel to match the handles on the kitchen cupboards and drawers and I'm so pleased with them. Quality is brilliant and I can definitely recommend.

Step 8 - Enjoy!

So here's a finished look at all the different parts involved and how the door now looks complete with a handle! We do still need to tidy up our work a little (ie, needs a sand in areas) but you get the idea...

Satin Nickel Door Knobs on Door
Door knob from Door Furniture Direct
rebate latch on door with handles
how to fit latch on internal french doors


how a rebate kit works
how does a rebate kit work?
DIY rebate kit on french door
skinny french door with single knob

As you can see, we've only fit one pair of handles on one door. You can, of course, add another handle on the secondary door so that they're symmetrical - but, this would only be a "dummy handle" and actually serve no purpose, so we're just leaving it as is. I also think having two knobs in such close proximity makes it harder to actually fit your hand around to be able to twist open. Plus, I don't like wasting money on something that serves no purpose. (And handles aren't all that cheap!)

We do however still need to add flush bolts to the secondary door on the top and bottom so that it stays firmly pushed back into position when shut. We also need to plane the bottom of the door, fit a new doorstep, tidy up the frame, oil the door, the list goes on. You get the idea, it's not totally done, but it's done.

So that's it! I hope this was vaguely helpful if you have a similar door with handles to fit. We're not expert trade carpenters (I'm sure you can tell!!), but with a careful hand, taking your time (and maybe watching a decent 'how to chisel' youtube video) any DIYer can totally tackle this job. I'm so pleased to finally have handles on our door, although it feels kinda weird and is now so much more effort when it comes to opening and closing them, ha!

What do you think to our bargain secondhand doors?


*The door handles featured in this post were gifted by Door Funiture Direct. Thank you for supporting this blog!

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how to fit a rebate latch on french doors

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