This section is from the book "Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry, And Building", by James C. et al. Also available from Amazon: Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry And Building.
These are pans in which the vanity of the owner can be - and often is - displayed. The escutcheon is the plate through which the key-hole is cut. It is usually combined with that on which the knob is placed, and is the lineal descendant of the escutcheon of chivalry borne by knights and persons of distinction. Careful study of escutcheons on the doors of houses, will show that much of the character of the owner is still indicated thereby.
With this fact in mind in the selection of hardware, special attention should be given this feature. A plain brass or bronze plate and knob is usually a safe selection.; but even then such items as its thickness or the way the edge is finished tell of conditions governing its selection. When the design calls for something more elaborate, it is a mistake to be confined to simple, plain work; but under no circumstances should a knob and escutcheon of elaborate or ornamental character be selected simply on account of such character when the surroundings do not call for display.
The escutcheon, at the point where it receives the shank of the knob, should always, even in cheap work, be so enlarged that it will project over the shank of the knob at least a quarter of an inch and fit closely; this stays the knob and gives it a firmness when gripped not otherwise obtained. The escutcheon plate should also be long enough to extend both above and below the lock; if it does not do so, the screws that fasten it in place can rarely be long enough to hold it firmly, as the side of the lock is usually within ⅜ or ½ inch from the surface of the door. The screws securing an escutcheon should always extend one inch into the wood.
A great variety of materials are used for both knobs and escutcheons - wood, glass, iron, brass, bronze, and metal plated with silver or even gold - and designers have produced many very artistic as well as many very much over-elaborated forms, which are easily cast in metal - sometimes with unfortunate ease, as it permits the reproduction of designs cheaply and has therefore encouraged their use in many cases where it would have been better to omit a large part of the ornamentation. This cast ornament is an American feature of hardware, that produced in Germany, France, or England being more generally of the wrought type, artisans in those countries being skilled beyond the American in forged work.
The knobs, and the spindle that connects them - which together operate the latch - are primarily mechanical contrivances, and should be considered as such. The old scheme of making a solid spindle which was secured to both knobs by screws through the shank of the knob running into the nearest hole in the spindle, the play being taken up with thin washers, was always bad, inasmuch as, when enough washers were put in to make the knob feel solid and to prevent its rattling, it was usually so tight as to bind. The screw always works loose, and being small is lost as soon as it drops out. Before a new screw is found, some of the washers very likely disappear; and if new ones are not obtained, the knob remains permanently loose.
Many devices have been provided to do away with these defects in mechanism. In one of these devices, the spindle end is in three pieces, the middle one wedge-shaped. A screw through the shank bears on this wedge-shaped piece, thus expanding the two others against the sides of the slot in the shank (see Fig. 39). In practice it is found that this screw when set hard against the wedge does not work loose; before it is set, the knob can be most delicately adjusted without washers; and if the screw should work loose, notice would at once be given by the slipping of the knob before the screw was lost.
Fig. 39. End of Expanding Spindle.
Fig. 40. Knob-Holding Device, Adjusted by a Thread.
Fig. 41. Knob-Holding Device without Spindle.
Another but somewhat more expensive device is that illustrated in Fig. 40, in which the knob can be delicately adjusted by a thread so that an exact fit can be obtained.
There are other devices in which the spindle is entirely dispensed with, and the knobs are slipped into the lock-case independently of each other, as in Fig. 41.
Where locks with pass keys are used so that stopwork changes the latch into a lock, it is desirable that one side only should be affected. The spindles of such locks are, therefore, jointed in the lock with a swivel-connection which allows at all times a free movement of the inside knob or key (see Fig. 42).
Fig. 42. Spindle with Swivel-Connected Ends.
Door knobs should be from 6½ to 7 inches in circumference, whether round or oval, to be gripped with ease; if larger, they should accompany locks which allow them to stand far enough out from the finish to prevent the hand from being pinched or bruised in turning the knob or opening the door. This distance, for ordinary knobs, is given under Locks as 2¾ to 3 inches, which distance should be increased if a larger knob than ordinary is used. A perfectly plain knob is rarely out of place, while any attempt at ornament is more than likely to appear so. For ordinary work, spun brass knobs wrought from thin sheet metal (Fig. 43) are very serviceable, and have the appearance of the genuine cast metal. With the plated butts, they make a good combination (though they will not stand blows without indentation), and for most purposes are as serviceable as the cast metal. In better work, however, the cast brass or bronze should preferably be used, in which the metal is cast from § to 3/16 inch thick; these are the strongest type used.
For the last few years there has been a tendency to adopt the types of Colonial days, and nowhere is this tendency seen more than in hardware. And with these designs have come some of the olden appliances, the most prominent of which are latches and knockers. The former are most useful, and, when applied in proper locations, have a charm which knobs do not possess; but in the case of mortised fixtures of the type usually operated by knobs, they are frequently - in fact, generally - out of place.
Fig. 43. Spun Brass Knob.
Knockers as now used are only for ornament, being rarely used by callers for summoning the inmates of the house.