How To Fit A Suffolk Latch

how to install gate thumb latch and how to fit a gate latch


The traditional Suffolk Latch, our company's namesake, and one of our best selling products. Customers often ask how to fit a gate latch, so here is a step-by-step 'how to' guide for fitting the perfect latch.

Before fitting, you need to decide which side you want the latch to be fitted, and which way you want the door to be opened.  The design enables the door to be opened from both sides, with the latch on one side of the door and the handle with thumb lever on the other.

Please Note: The thumb latch fits onto the side of the door that opens away from you and the latch bar to the side that opens towards you.

If you want to fit a Suffolk Latch onto a cupboard door, where access is only possible from one side, it would be best to fit a latch set (this is essentially the back end of a Suffolk latch).

Now, let's fit this latch....

Parts Checklist

parts of Suffolk Latch








    • Thumb Latch with Bar
    • Latch Bar
    • Knock-in Staple (shown in photo) or Screw-on Staple
    • Keeper

    Traditionally a knock-in staple is used to keep the latch bar in place, however this needs absolute accuracy when fitting. For this reason, most people prefer to use a screw-on staple.

    Marking out

    marking out measurements for fitting a Suffolk Latch


    Points to think about:

    • The latch should be at a height that is comfortable - you don't want to be reaching up or bending down to open the door.
    • It is generally good practice to have all hinges and latches on doors in your home at the same levels. If you have other latches, fit your new latch at the same height as the others.
    • The 50mm measurement from the door edge is an absolute minimum - please adjust according to your door/door jam specifications.

    Marking it out:

    • Once you have decided upon the height for fixing the latch, draw a faint vertical line in pencil, 50mm in from the door edge (please note this is a guide and can be altered according to your specific door/door jam specifications)
    • Draw a horizontal line intersecting the vertical line at the point you want the thumb part of the latch to sit.
    • Then draw a second horizontal line 30mm up from the first line - this will be the upper and lower limit of the slot you are about to create.

     Creating The Slot

    creating slot for a Suffolk Latch

    Hole for fitting a Suffolk Latch







    Tip: I always use a router - it's neat and fast. Cut the slot in three equal passes and remember to clamp a piece of wood on the other side of the slot to prevent any breakout.

    If you don't have a router you can use a 10mm drill and drill a line of holes along the marked out area. Then, using a round rasp, carefully join up the holes to create a slot.

     Fixing The Handle & Bar

    Fitting the Handle for a Suffolk LatchMaking hole for fitting Suffolk Latch handleFitting a Suffolk Latch

    • Carefully pass the bar through the the slot that you have just machined
    • Lower the handle so that the bar sits on the bottom of the slot and is at 90 degrees to the door front when looked at from the side
    • When you are happy that the handle is in the correct position, mark the holes with a pencil then remove the handle

    Tip: Slotted dome head screws are notoriously hard to fit, especially if you are screwing into oak. I use a conventional pozi drive screw to make a start on all the holes. It is also important to use a screwdriver where the driver blade closely fits the the screw slot, otherwise it can leave a sharp burr.


    Fitting The Latch Bar

    Fitting a latch bar for a Suffolk Latch


    • Lay the latch bar over the lever on the reverse side of the latch, allowing for about a 5mm overhang from where the keep will be finally fixed.  The latch bar should be horizontal to the the floor. 
    • When you are happy that it is in the correct position, mark out the hole
    • Start the hole with a pozi drive screw, then reposition the bar and fix in place with the slotted screw provided.  Please note the screw should not be fully tightened - back the screw off enough to allow free movement, but not too much as to make it a sloppy fit

     Fitting the Staple

    Fitting a latch bar for a Suffolk Latch

    With the lever and latch bar now firmly in place, it is now time to fit the staple. Traditionally, the staple would be hammered through and the spikes showing the other side would be bent over.  If you are going through a ledge or brace this will not be a problem because of the thickness of the combined material.  Some people, however, don’t like this option which is  why we offer an alternative with the screw on staple.

    • Offer the staple up to the latch bar making sure it is upright then give it a firm tap with a hammer leaving two small indentations. 
    • Using a small drill 4-5mm in diameter drill two pilot holes - this will help with knocking the staple into hard material such as oak and also prevent the timber from splitting.  

    Tip: I cut the spikes so they don’t quite go all the way through the door. Then I drill two pilot holes that I fill with PVA glue before I hammer home.  This maintains the traditional look without the unsightly knocked over spikes showing on the reverse side of the door.

    And Finally: Fitting The Keeper

    Latch bar being fitted Suffolk Latch fittingSuffolk Latch fully fitted

    The final part of the operation is the fitting of the keeper.  This is by far the most important part because what you want to achieve is that satisfying feeling when you pull the door shut and you get that reassuring clunk when the leaver falls into the keep.  Because each of your doors will be slightly different and each Suffolk Latch is individually hand-made, you will notice that each door will have a different sound when opened and closed.

    • Close the door so the latch bar is resting against the door surround.
    • With a pencil, draw a faint line on the underside of the latch bar.  This line is where the inside edge of the keep will fall.
    • Drill a small pilot hole just under the line and the correct distance in from the edge. 
    • Carefully knock the keeper into the frame. It is important to note that there is a degree of license at this point,  you can tap the keeper up, down, left and right until you have got it in exactly the right position. 
    • When you are happy, secure the keeper with one of the screws provided.

    And now you have a perfectly fitted Suffolk Latch!

    If you have any further questions or queries please drop us a line at: