I have this large wooden box (2x4's and plywood) that I am making, with a single door (blue) on the front, hinged at the bottom. It might not be clear from my crappy sketch but the door is the full width, the sides (pink) are behind it when it is closed (it rests on the front edge of the sides).

enter image description here

This box has a top but it isn't shown; the top is also a hinged lid, and can't be latched to the front door, it needs to stay independent.

I need a locking mechanism that I can use to hold it shut (doesn't need a key, just needs to hold it shut). The problem I'm having is that due to this box's construction, the sides have an inch or two of flex in them (red arrows), they don't naturally line up with the door. This is OK but it means that I need a type of lock that can not only hold the door shut, but can also prevent side-to-side movement of the sides when it is locked.

Also because the sides of the door are flush with the faces of the side, the lock pretty much has to be mounted on the side. So basically I need a type of lock that can hold two surfaces flush and prevent them from being separated. That is, I need a lock that I can mount on the side that constrains movement in both the red and blue arrow directions in the sketch above.

The edge of the door is 1.5" wide.

Is there any type of lock like this? The locks I've seen so far are:

  • Barrel bolt lock: Won't work on the side since the bolt just slips right out, these can't prevent motion along the long axis of the bolt. Although if one existed that had pins on both sides...

    enter image description here

  • Hasp lock with a twisty thing: Won't keep the sides flush with the door edge when locked:

    enter image description here

  • Hook and eye: Pretty much the same problem as the hasp lock:

    enter preformatted text here

  • Gate latch: I don't think this would work, they aren't really designed to prevent movement along the long axis, and even though I might be able to find one where the ball on the end is big enough to not slip through the hole, it would have some play in it so wouldn't hold the door closed tightly, plus it would be super awkward to open and close:

    enter image description here

  • Sash lock: The closest thing I've found to what I want so far, but even this doesn't quite work, it only prevents movement along one direction of the red arrows. Plus, they tend to be on the small side, being designed for windows, and so I'd be concerned about the mounting screw being so close to the edge of the wood:

    enter image description here

I don't really know what other types of locks there are. What can I use for this?

I'm not too concerned about cost; I only need two of them (one for each side). I also don't need ultra high strength along the red arrows, the box won't really be holding anything that puts any amount of stress on the sides. What I do care about is longevity; the door won't be opened or closed particularly often but it does need to last for at least a few years.

I hope I've explained this clearly.

Edit: I think maybe something along the lines of this sketch could work, I'm not sure if there is a lock type like it that I could purchase, or maybe I can piece together some hardware. This would involve a barrel bolt lock on the front that slides through the hole in the tab:

enter image description here

Maybe something like that could work? As long as the slot for the tab is wide enough to account for the curved path of the closing door. I'd be concerned about the red arrow movement ripping out the screws holding the tab in place over time but if it was a T shape with a wider mounting plate and more screws, that could work.

  • The box has no top? Could the latch be on the inside?
    – Mazura
    Oct 8, 2016 at 1:01
  • @Mazura The box does have a top I just left it out of the drawing. The top is a lid on a hinge, it can't lock to the front, the top and front need to open independently. I supposed I could put the latch on the inside, requiring you to open the top to get to it, I actually don't mind that. It's not ideal but if it's the only option I'd have to settle for it.
    – Jason C
    Oct 8, 2016 at 1:19
  • 2
    Do you have any issues with a couple of dowel pins sticking out from the front edge of the sides. These would fit into pocket holes on the front inside, this would at least solve your flex issue, allowing one of the other locks to work. Or like your last image a flat bar on inside side walls that slide through a slot in the face. Oct 8, 2016 at 1:41
  • @spicetraders That's a great idea, or like a rectangular tenon sticking out or something, maybe with a slight bevel to make it slip into place more easily (a flat bar sliding through the face would be nice but I don't know how to cut a thin slot like that through thick wood; maybe drill + thread a scroll saw through it). Can't say I'm excited about the idea of finishing the inside of the mortise on the door (this is an outdoor piece, need to get a few coats of spar urethane in there) but that's just a pain, not prohibitive, nothing a tiny brush can't solve. I think it's a good option.
    – Jason C
    Oct 8, 2016 at 2:01

4 Answers 4


Right Angle Hasp

enter image description here


This type of right angle hasp would negate the need for guide pins, but would be inside the box.

enter image description here


Flexible Hinge Hasp

enter image description here


My first idea, before I thought of those hasps.

Barrel locks on the inside that are thrown into holes that are drilled into the sides (shown in green on the left).

And doll rods or guide pins to prevent side-to-side movement (shown in green on the right).

enter image description here

  • I wonder if mounting the hasp around the corner will have the same problem as mounting it flush, with the hinge allowing for side-to-side play. But I really like the dowels + inside barrel lock idea. In fact, if I have the dowels there, I could probably put a simple hook + eye on the exterior side or something as well. If no magic lock type turns up here in the next day or two I think I am going to do it this way. Thanks!
    – Jason C
    Oct 8, 2016 at 1:55
  • Oh wait; would the lock-y part of the hasp (dunno what it's called; the loop thing) be on the front face of the door, or on the side of the box? It might work well on the door now that I think about it. I'd probably have to put a piece of metal or something on the edge under the hasp though to keep it from digging into the door.
    – Jason C
    Oct 8, 2016 at 2:04
  • @JasonC - The clasp probably needs to go on the side walls (the hasp being screwed to the door), but they do make versions that have more articulation, which would allow you to do it either way. For me it would all depend on what they have at the store.
    – Mazura
    Oct 8, 2016 at 2:15
  • Ooo I found penn-elcom.com/default.asp?PN=L787SM&LG=ENG, which would be perfect except it's just a hair too large, that's the only size, and afaict nobody else makes surface mount rotary cams like that. Now I wonder if a toggle clamp would hold it well enough.
    – Jason C
    Oct 8, 2016 at 16:23

My recommendation would be a furniture lock, eg a simple cam lock on the door engaging a slot in the top. Cleaner appearance, simple function. You could even use one if the magnetic "tot locks" for operation with no visible keyhole.


Here's how I might do it, if I had to put a lock on such a box (labels below image):

diagram that could use some labels Blue indicates parts that are hidden inside the box. Red indicates parts visible from the outside. Some parts are not drawn for clarity (and to save drawing time).

  • The large left and right rectangles are the box side walls.
  • The long horizontal rectangles are locking rods that fit into holes in the box walls.
  • The small left and right rectangles are guides for the locking rods, attached to the sides of the front door panel.
  • The center vertical rectangle is a plate that rotates if the lock is released.
  • The small circles are pins that link the locking rods to the rotating plate.
  • The red circle is the lock, accessible from the outside.
  • The red rectangle is a handle attached to the rotating plate, so that the key in the lock doesn't have to supply the force to rotate the plate and pull the locking rods.

Another option would be to use over-centre catches, or toggle catches - you can get ones especially designed for furniture use.

A couple of examples from a certain well-known internet retailer:

Over-centre catches

Toggle Catches

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