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How to Make Wooden Latches

Mark Morris

Woodworkers frequently require specialized hardware pieces to finish projects. Ready-made metal hardware latches are the simplest solution for keeping doors and drawers in the closed position.

A simple barn-style latch can be used on smaller projects.

Bright metal finishes can clash with wood finishes, however, especially on vintage or rustic pieces, and a simple wooden latch can be just as effective. Use plywood to cut latch pieces from to minimize splitting when drilling and fastening small latch pieces.

Making Parts

  1. Use a carpenter's square to draw a rectangle 2 1/2-by-1/2-inch, one square 1/2-by-1/2 inch and a rectangle 1/2-by-1 inch on 1/2 inch thick plywood.

  2. Draw a line dividing the 1/2-by-1 inch rectangle into two 1/2 inch squares. Draw diagonal lines between the corners of one of the two squares in the rectangle in both directions to find the center. Do the same for the single 1/2 inch square. Draw a line to create a 1/2 inch square at the end of the long rectangle and mark it similarly.

  3. Drill a 3/16 inch hole centered on the x in the end of the longest rectangle with a cordless drill. Drill a 1/8 inch hole in the center of both of the remaining x's.

  4. Cut the 1/2 inch square, the 1/2-by-1 inch rectangle and the 1/2-by-2 1/2 inch rectangle from the plywood using a band saw. Sand the pieces with 150-grit sandpaper.

  5. Glue the 1/2 inch square to the 1/2-by-1 inch rectangle and tape them together. Set them aside to allow the glue to dry for one hour. This will be the latch cradle, or catch.


  1. Locate the position of the latch arm (the longest rectangle) so that it is on the door, 1 inch in from the edge. Drill a 3/16 inch hole through the door and thread a 3/16 inch machine screw with a rounded head through the latch arm and hole in the door, with a smooth nylon washer between the latch arm and the door and a second washer between the screw head and the arm.

  2. Open the door and fit a fender washer over the end of the screw. Fit a locking nut on and thread it finger tight, so that the arm moves easily.

  3. Close the door and position the arm horizontal, 90 degrees to the edge of the door. Mark the bottom edge of the arm onto the face of the project piece beside the door.

  4. Fit the catch into position beside the door, so that the square is underneath and its top edge is on the line you marked from the arm. Drive a 1 1/2 inch wood screw through the catch into the face of the project piece with the drill to fasten it in place.

  5. Close the door and swing the latch arm around to fit into the catch to lock it in place.