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Door Handle Spindles & Grub Screws

Antique Door Handle Spindles & Grub Screws

Grub screws & spindles questions are really common query here at Architectural Decor, on both handles we've sold and customer handles they already have. There's a few FAQs at the foot of the page.

The vast majority of original antique & period reproduction styles, fall into 3 main categories:

Plain spindle with no grub screw.

The handles and fixing/Rose plate are in one piece so need a grub screw to attach the spindle. The handles screw to the door and the spindle goes between each handle and through the square hole in the lock, it isn't really attached to the handles or the lock

Threaded spindle with grub screw.

The spindle is threaded, sometimes both ends of the spindle are threaded and sometimes one handle is attached to one end with only one side being threaded. You'll notice the centre of the spindle has a non threaded section, this operates the square hole in your lock. The handles screw onto the spindle and are attached using the grub screw, more often than not there is a slot on the spindle for the grub screw to tighten into. If the grub screw isn't in the slot of the spindle, or isn't square in the handle socket the grub screw won't catch and will work itself loose over time.

'Screw & hole' spindle.

Rather than threads the spindle has pre cut holes for the screw to go into. It does limit how tight you can get the handle against the door (if your door thickness is between holes). Originally they would have been supplied with washers to go between the handle and fixing/Rose plate to pack out that gap.


As is always the way, there were various other, usually more complicated ways to attach the handle to the spindle. These are pretty much always on older (pre 1940s) door handles, I can't recall seeing any modern versions.

Common issues.

My handle keeps unscrewing from the spindle and doesn't turn the lock, someone got locked in: The grub screw is either not tightened onto the spindle & 'biting', or the grub screw isn't located into one of the long slots and is positioned diagonally.  
My handle is really tight against the door and the lock/latch doesn't always return (the bolt goes in but doesn't spring out): The handle is probably screwed onto the spindle too far, loosen the grub screw, unscrew the handle either a 1/4 or 1/2 turn (depending on how many slots the spindle has) & retighten the grub screw, making sure it goes into the slot. Or if it's the 'screw & hole' style, remove the grub screw, move the handle back a hole. 
My rim lock/latch doesn't always return the bolt & seems tight : Same as above, most rim locks have leaf spring that's as deep as the lock, the handle only needs to be a little too tight against the lock for it to catch and not return.
My handle is really loose & is hanging down: Same as above but in reverse, sometimes 
Always remember nothing is standard, on the older handles there are 100s of different sizes & gauges of the screws and several spindle thread sizes. Even on modern handles, there's no guarantee of either the spindle or grub screw being metric.
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