I live in an old apartment and the door knob on my front door has been having problems for a while. In theory, the door locks from the outside automatically, but can always be opened from the inside. But recently the knobs came loose, so that the door was almost impossible to open from the inside - you had to pull the knob all the way towards you before turning it, and even that only worked sometimes.

This morning, the knobs were so loose that I gave up on opening the door and just went out the back. When I got home I tightened the set screws on both the inside and outside knobs so that both knobs were flush with the door, but then the door couldn't be opened from either the inside or outside.

So I took everything apart to try to figure out how it worked, but no matter how I put it back together I just couldn't fix it.

As shown below, the shaft is squared and has a slight twist in the center, presumably so that the knob can be turned from the inside but not the outside. The second image shows the place where the shaft is inserted. Though there's one hole, there are actually two separate metal plates with square holes in them, one (the outside) which is stationary, and the other (the inside) which can be turned in order to open the door. I can unlock the door by inserting the shaft (or any small rigid object, like a screwdriver) partway, so that it only contacts the inside hole, but if it's properly inserted I can't turn it at all in any direction.

I just don't fully understand the mechanism - if one of the plates is stationary, how can the knob ever be turned at all? More importantly, if it was working before, and all the parts are still there, why has it stopped working? Please help - I really miss being able to use my front door!

shaft door

  • Your image links are dead - do you have the photos still? Uploading them using the uploader is a much better long-term option
    – Criggie
    Jan 22, 2019 at 7:17

1 Answer 1


There's a pivot joint in the middle of the knob shaft which lets the two ends rotate relative to each other. You need to get things lined up so each end of the shaft engages just its side of the lockset. That may take some experimentation to get the amount screwed into each of the knobs just right to balance this out, though the cross-pin should help you find the right position.

  • 1
    I would like to add that the spindle halves may have been turned together so they are now tight to each other making it act as a solid spindle. What the OP thinks is a twist in the spindle is where the threaded sections meet. Which is where you point out is the pivot. The shafts need to be apart a little to work properly. Loosen the threads about a turn or so, then reinstall the spindle and adjust accordingly.
    – Jack
    Oct 10, 2015 at 0:25

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