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Replacing an interior door knob with a vintage one

This will help you out with replacing a newer style door knob with one of those super cute looking vintage door knobs. This will also help anyone who purchased a doorknob from Anthropologie — they have fantastic looking knobs, but don’t inform you on how to install these knobs. There is additional hardware you’ll need to buy for the Anthropologie knobs, because unfortunately your existing modern latches will not fit the older square spindle that comes with these types of knobs.

Anyway, have no fear, I will help get you through it!

Step 1: Purchase hardware

You’ll need to order some hardware, and most of it can only be found online. Here I’ll give you links to what you need:

Want the Whole Retrofit Kit?

You can get the parts separately, if you’d rather:
  1. Retro door latch guts – this is called a “Standard Tubular Back Set Conversion Latch”
  2. Bore insert – since the opening on most modern doors will be much wider than you will need, the bore insert can “plug up” the hole so you have something to screw the rosette into.
    1. Wax
    2. Wood
  3. Screws (I bought 1/2 inch #5 flathead wood screws in a satin nickel finish at Ace Hardware. They’re like 27 cents apiece. Not worth paying for shipping on these, just buy them in person.)

Spindle too Short?

A lot people in the Anthropologie website reviews are saying that the spindle is too short on the knobs, but it’s definitely not. Just keep spinning the knob counterclockwise and the spindle will get longer.

Step 2: Remove old door hardware

Sometimes easier said than done, removing the old knob is your first step.  My old doorknob had screws, so all I did was unscrew it, then pry the rosette off, and then unscrew the latch and remove that. If your doorknob doesn’t have screws, you can read this post about removing a doorknob without screws.

Step 3: install the bore insert

Make sure that the insert is flush with the exterior of your door on both sides!

The bore insert is pretty easy to install. It’s basically a waxlike piece that will fit into the hollow part of the door where you just removed the knob. Tap it in with a hammer and use the screws to make the piece flush with both sides of the door.  Also make sure that the new latch can slide in from the side of the door — there’s an opening in the insert that lines up with this, so you’ll need to make sure you are aligning it properly.

Step 4: Install the new latch

This is a pretty simple step. Push the new latch in from the narrow part of the door and then screw it right in. It should fit securely

Step 5: Install the new knob

Spin one side of the doorknob counterclockwise until it comes off the spindle completely. Then push the spindle through the hole in the latch, and put the removed knob back on. Spin both sides evenly until it’s tight against the rosette, then tighten the tiny screws on the neck of the knobs about a half turn to secure the knob. Make sure it’s not too tight that you can’t get the knob to turn. This is the hardest part, because you’ll want the position of the knob to look even on both sides, but also turn properly. Get it as close as you can and twist either knob to see if the latch will come out and go back in itself.  If you have a round knob, instead of an egg-shaped one like I do, this will be much easier for you.

Step 6: Screw the rosette into the bore insert

Now you’ll need to screw the rosette into the waxy bore insert. Use 1/2 inch #5 flathead wood screws and carefully tighten into the bore insert.

Step 7: Install the new catch onto the door molding.

Take note of the way the old one was positioned and use that as your guide. Make sure you check that the latch will catch when you shut the door.  You may have to chisel out some of the wood to raise or lower the catch so it will line up with the latch.

Now, sit back and enjoy your new doorknob!


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  1. How do you make it shorter? I bought the Anthropologie doorknob and have nothing to screw the acres in to. PLEASE advise.

      1. Hi Lee, I’d love to help, but you’ll have to be a little more specific (this post is about 3 years old). What are you trying to make shorter and what are you screwing screws into?

    1. Hello, if you read the post, it says “A lot people in the Anthropologie website reviews are saying that the spindle is too short on the knobs, but it’s definitely not. Just keep spinning the knob counterclockwise and the spindle will get longer.” Have you tried to do that?

  2. Wax hole inserts? this doesn’t sound very sturdy how long will these things last on a heavily used door? I REALLY want to put retro glass knobs in our remodeled bathroom but WAX?? I’m not sure doesn’t anyone else make something heartier?

    1. Hi Kat,
      I didn’t use this on a heavy door, so I don’t know how it would hold up. I tried to do a search for you but I came up empty handed, however at one point I did see something made of wood. Maybe you can make some sort of bore insert out of wood if you are handy? There are also complete kits you can buy if you really want to go that route. Finest Retrofit Latch for Antique Knobs in Modern Doors

      1. Thank for your reply the door is not heavy but used a lot… the wax insert link is not working any longer and searching did not bring any thing up either just to let you know.

      2. Sorry to hear that 🙁 Still working for me, but it’s not a door I use very often. I think if you know anyone handy it wouldn’t be too difficult to make something similar to the wax in a wooden format. Maybe you can move it to a less used door or a new project? Like a door knob wine stopper or a curtain rod door knob?

  3. thank you! i purchased door knobs from anthropologie, but had to get a shorter (!) spindle in order for them to fit. i also didn’t know how to attach to the bore insert until i read your post (duh, they’re wax)

  4. This totally worked! My kids had given me an eclectic collection of Anthro door knobs to use at our mountain cabin, and I have been trying to install them (unsuccessfully) for 2 seasons! I used your method and recommended parts and it worked! Thanks for the great tip!

  5. Thank you for posting these instructions! I bought a 1920 house a few months ago and decided to replace the hideously ugly doorknobs a previous owner had installed with some clear fluted glass knobs I found. I never would have been able to get them installed without your instructions! I ended up ordering bore inserts and the latch conversion kits, but also needed spindle sleeves because the spindles were too small for the latch. If anyone else needs them you can order them from Historic House Parts in Rochester NY.

  6. I am extremely handy, but could not make the knob my wife brought home work. The spindle was WAY too long. Latches to fit were easy to find, but the spindle is more than an inch too long. Hardware stores have shorter spindles, but the threading is inconsistent with the knobs. The only solution left is to take a hacksaw to the spindle to shorten it and pray you don’t screw up the threads on the spindle while doing so. Either that, or buy a new door that’s about and inch and a quarter thicker!!! NOT WORTH THE TIME OR HASSLE TO BUY THE ANTHROPOLOGIE KNOBS!!!!

    1. I’m sorry you are having such a hard time. I had a tough time too, which is why I wrote the tutorial. I didn’t have a problem with the spindle. If you twist it I think it shrinks down to the right size. Fiddle with it a little bit before you cut it.

    2. I have the same problem… Too long.
      Did you get it to work? And how did you do it?
      Thank you

  7. THANKS! I’ve been wanting to buy an anthropologie knob for my new house, but I was reluctant to do it since I knew I needed extra hardware and I had no idea what that hardware would be.

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