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What is an Elbow Catch?

By B. Turner
Updated May 17, 2024
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An elbow catch is a hardware device used in cabinetry and woodworking. The elbow catch offers a low-cost method of securing a door, and makes it easy to manually lock or unlock the door as needed. This device consists of two separate components, including a strike and a locking mechanism. The elbow catch gets its name from the angled-design of the locking mechanism, while the strike features a raised lip to secure the tip of the angled catch.

These locks are frequently used to secure pairs of cabinet doors. When the doors are locked from the outside with a cupboard latch or similar lock, one of the doors is considered active and the other inactive. When users turn or unlock the exterior lock, the active door opens while the elbow catch holds the inactive door securely in place. To open the inactive door, the user must reach into the open cabinet and press down on the thumb-latch located on the elbow catch.

Typically, installers mount the elbow catch on the inactive cabinet door, while the strike is mounted on one of the shelves within the cabinet. The device must be mounted close enough to the active cabinet door that the average user is able to reach it. Once the inactive door is closed, the elbow catch automatically latches, securing the door in place.

This type of cabinet hardware can be used on all types of cabinets, including wood, metal, and composite materials. Most contain pre-drilled holes to accommodate fasteners, and manufacturers often provide appropriate fasteners to ensure a successful installation. While standard hardware can be used on most residential cabinets, heavy-duty fasteners work better on commercial or industrial cabinets due to high levels of wear and abuse.

Consumers typically select elbow catches and other cabinet hardware based on materials and finish. The hardware should match or complement the cabinets themselves, and may also be chosen to match other hardware or fixtures in the room. Even though the elbow catch is hidden away inside the cabinet, it should still match surrounding fixtures to create a cohesive look. These fasteners can be found in both polished and brushed varieties, with finishes ranging from brass to chrome.

Installers should use elbow catches carefully to ensure they will function as intended. The catch and strike must be properly aligned so that the lip of the strike matches up with the tip of the locking mechanism. Because these catches can't be accessed from outside the cabinet, they should only be used on double cabinets that allow users to access the lock with ease.

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