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How to Toe and Heel a Door

A quality uPVC front door will last for many, many years, but over time it’s normal for these doors to suffer from a slight drop or lean. Whilst one side of the door is fully supported by hinges, the other side – the lock side – isn’t quite as sturdy, which is what causes this lean over to occur over a number of years of use.

This drop or lean can then lead to further problems, including trouble with locking the door, or even a gap that can cause drafts or leaks into the customer’s home during bad weather. Alternatively, the door could begin to rub against the frame and cause further damage, that might lead to a replacement being required. As such, it’s beneficial to act early and to take the steps needed to correct the door’s drop or lean and to prevent as much damage as possible.

A simple and effective way of correcting the door’s drop or lean is to toe and heel the door. This is a common method used by many locksmiths and uPVC repair engineers with troublesome door drops, especially when attempting to adjust the hinges doesn’t work. By correctly toeing and heeling the door, you should be able to realign to door with the frame and correct any leaning that has occurred.

If you’re new to the toe and heel process, continue reading to find out how to carry out the task and you’ll have the uPVC door in question looking just right in no time at all.

First things first – double check for any drop

It makes sense to carry out some measurements to begin with, to clarify that your customer’s door has indeed dropped. Professionals typically call a door that has dropped as being out of square.

It’s incredibly simple to check for any drop. Simply measure the door from corner to corner, diagonally. So you would be measuring from the top left corner down to the bottom right, followed by measuring from the top right corner down to the bottom left. Make a note of each of the measurements and, if they do not match, you’ll know for sure that there’s a definite drop in the door.

Toeing and heeling your customer’s door will reposition your customer’s door so that these measurement are once again equal.

Have the right equipment to hand

As with any other door maintenance tasks, it’s beneficial to have the right equipment ready before going ahead with toeing and heeling the door. You don’t need too many tools or accessories and what you do need, you’ll probably already have in your tool box:

  • One or two stiff putty knives – these will be used to remove the beading strips
  • A glazing shovel – this will help you to lift the door frame
  • A selection of packers and shims – these are readily available in many DIY stores
  • General purpose clear silicone

Begin to toe and heel the door

Once you have your equipment ready, the process of toeing and heeling your customer’s door can begin. It’s a relatively simple process so it shouldn’t take up too much of your time.

  1. Kick things off by removing the beading strips that hold any glass or panels to the door. It’s best to start with the longer strips and finish with the shorter strips. Simply place your stiff putty knife in-between the beading strip and the frame, about halfway down the strip. From there, gently work the knife as a lever until the beading strip breaks away.
  2. Once the beading strips have been removed, you can now remove any glass or panels from the door. From there, look for any packers that are within the frame and remove them, before reinstalling the glass or panels into the door frame. When you fit the glass or panels back into the frame, move it as close to the locking side of the door as possible, so that there’s a gap on the hinge side. From there, you should measure the distance between the glass or panel to the top of the frame and the distance between the glass or panel to the hinged side of the frame. Make a note of these measurements.
  3. Using the measurements detailed above, take two packers that are both half of the total width of the measurement (e.g. for a 8mm gap, your packers would need to be around 4mm each). Again, using the measurements detailed above, another two packers should be half of the total height measurement (from the glass or panel to the top of the frame). Once you have these packers ready, you can begin to position them within the frame.
  4. Using the clear silicone, place one of the width-based packers and one of the height-based packers within the bottom left corner of the frame. Each of the packers should be positioned around 50mm away from the corner, further along the longer door strip. These packers will help to distribute the pressure evenly. From there, you can add the glass or panel back into the frame.
  5. The glass or panel will naturally lean slightly towards the locking side of the door, which can be corrected by placing the glazing shovel into the lock side and gently pushing the glass of panel towards the hinged side. To hold this in place, add the second width-based packer to the top right corner of the frame, again, 50mm down from the corner.
  6. Now you will need to use the glazing shovel on the top of the lock side of the door, and work it gently to lift the frame into place, before adding the second height-based packer to the top right corner of the frame, 50mm left of the corner.
  7. Once all the packers are in place, you will need to check that the frame and the door panels are level with one another, as well as testing whether the door opens, closes and locks effortlessly, before refitting the beading strips.

Top Tip: For additional strength and security, you can add two further packers to each side of the door.

By following these 7 steps, you should have a level sitting uPVC door again in no time at all.


How to become a locksmith

If you’re thinking about pursuing a career as a locksmith, it’s well worth doing your research beforehand. There are a few things to consider, including how to kickstart your career with the different training options available, as well which route to take further down the line. That being said, once you’re satisfied that a you’ll be happy working as a locksmith, you can expect a rather successful career, wherever it takes you.

See our post on why locksmithing is a great career choice for 2018

We’ve provided plenty of information here, on what it takes to become a professional locksmith, as well as additional things to consider for the future to be able to make the most of your new career.

Is there a nationally recognised qualification available?

There are no legal requirements to practise as a locksmith within the UK, however getting accredited with a scheme such as City & Guilds, who only allow centres with the best training standards to offer their qualification which is recognised across the world and backed by a Royal Charter, will be helpful in showing the level of your skills to either potential employers or customers.

We would absolutely recommend taking part in a training course before offering your service to potential customers, as this will help you to build a solid reputation for doing a good job.

The decision between employed or self-employed

It’s wise to think about your career pursuits earlier rather than later, including whether you want to pursue a career as a locksmith in an employed or self-employed position. There are pros and cons to each path and the route you choose to take depends entirely on your own individual preferences:

Whilst working as a self-employed locksmith takes more time, cost and effort to build a solid business up from scratch, you’ll also find it a much more lucrative career path over time. However, if you’re looking to make a steady income from the off, with little investment involved, a career as a locksmith in employment might be the better option for you.

Research suggests that the average salary for a self-employed locksmith if around £27,381, whereas for an employed locksmith, the average salary lies around the £23,000-24,000 mark. Of course, these are just averages and you might find that some self-employed locksmiths earn much more or vice versa, especially if they are more specialised.

The costs associated with being a locksmith

Unlike a number of other careers, there are some costs associated with working as a locksmith, which is a rather important consideration before choosing whether or not to pursue this career.

Firstly, there’s the cost of training and learning the skills to carry out your day to day jobs. This is a one-off cost, but you may need to pay for another training programme if you choose to become more specialise further on down the line.

Then there’s the cost of your tools and stock, from locks, hinges and handles, to lock picks, screwdrivers and chisels, to name a few. These form the base of your job and, without then, it’s impossible to be able to work as a locksmith. Make sure you have the financial backing to invest in the appropriate tools and stock before investing in training.

A particularly large cost is the vehicle you will need to head from one job to another, and that includes:

  • The cost of the vehicle
  • Fuel
  • Tax, MOTs or servicing required
  • Insurance

Having access to a vehicle is an imperative part of any successful locksmith’s job, so make sure you will be able to provide this for your own benefit.

You may also want to consider marketing or advertising, especially as a self-employed locksmith, which will help to promote your business and get your name out there. These promotional tactics can be costly at first, but the return on investment may well outgrow the cost.

Key business decisions to make as a self-employed locksmith

Starting your own business as a locksmith can provide plenty of work and a well-earned salary year after year. Although it takes a lot more time and effort to succeed in, it’s well worth the investment once your business is successfully up and running.

If you’re thinking about pursuing a career as a self-employed locksmith, there are a number of factors to consider whilst building your business model:

  1. Which area of the UK will you host your business in and is there a lot of demand for locksmiths in that areas? For example, are crime rates high or is there a lot of development occurring in the region?
  2. Will you cover a certain aspect of locksmithing or will you want to offer a variety of different services? With additional training, you could see yourself working on safes, car security and electronic key card locks, for example.
  3. Are you willing to offer a 24-hour service or would you rather limit yourself to more sociable hours? Bear in mind that you may have a few competitors in your local area who offer a 24-hour service.
  4. How do you plan on winning your first few customers and how will you grow your business over time? Having an in-depth plan in place will give your business a much bigger chance of succeeding than if you were to take it as it comes. We provide plenty of advice and guidance on how to market your business, as part of our locksmith training services.

Last but certainly not least, it takes plenty of desire, determination and ambition to make it as a successful locksmith, along with a friendly and approachable personality. If you’ve considered all of the above and think you have what it takes to pursue a career as a helpful professional in the field, why not get in touch with us and book your spot on one of our training courses?


Karl Pearson

I really wanted a change from the job I was in and didn’t want to work for anyone else, I wanted to be my own boss. I looked into becoming a locksmith for a few months and eventually took the plunge.

The best thing I ever did. I chose MPL Locksmith Training course has all the reviews I read from all the other training schools, MPL is by far the best. I really enjoyed the course and the trainer really takes his time with you to make sure you get the best from it.

The after care once you have done the course is also brilliant. If I have any problem there is always someone there on the other end of the phone to help with the job you are doing. They helped me with marketing my business too to get me fully on the right track. With all the advice and training I got from MPL I did exactly what they told me to do and I earned my training fee back within 7 weeks.

I now work Part time in what was my full time job and also work for myself, but hopefully not for long. I recommend MPL Locksmith training centre to anyone wanting a career as a locksmith.


Colin Power

From the moment I rang MPL I had nothing but satisfaction from the accommodation and training at Thornes park at the end of January.

Having been open minded about the course and how difficult this would be,our fears were put at ease by the friendliness, professionalism, knowledge and experience of the staff.

Books were provided to show and explain the tools necessary and gain entry. Based more on the practical side we still made notes in the books. I totally recommend MPL to anyone thinking of doing the course. You meet the staff and likewise students attending for which there are no more than six students at a time, to demonstrate our skills passed on to ascertain we are able to do this to a satisfactory level, whilst feeling comfortable you are all getting the full attention and at the same level.


David Bartlett

I did my 5 day training with MPL on the 13th October last year, I was working for a company installing CCTV / Alarms systems, It absolutely changed my life for the better, after the course finished on the Friday I felt empowered after everything we had learnt. The support afterwards has also been amazing, from the locksmith bible you receive, the support on the phone & when you order from the trade counter, even if you don’t know the product you are looking for specifically, they are so helpful.

I can honestly say I never thought before I did the course that I could be working for myself within weeks.

I have stopped the job I had and am now a full time locksmith and couldn’t be happier.

I have now been working for myself since the end of November, but even before I took the plunge and stopped my old job I was still able to cover some subcontract work, kind of testing the water beforehand.

No two days are the same, Getting called out to someone who has locked their keys inside the house, or a failed door mechanisms that is stuck in the closed position, changing Euro cylinders & night-latches to boarding up windows and doors after customers have been broken into, knowing you have made them safe again is a wonderful feeling.

My days can vary greatly take the other day, started with a call to an American lady that wasn’t used to the night-latch lock on her front door and had gone outside and the door had shut behind her, after calling me I was with her in about 30 minutes, it took me no time at all to slip the latch and she could not have been happier, back in the warm and dry.

Then it was onto a customer that had lost the keys to their garage door, it was a standard half Euro 5 pin cylinder, picked using my Dino electric pick gun.

Back home for a nice relaxing lunch then onto a Euro cylinder change for a customer she was concerned about security so asked my advice which I am always happy to give. She upgraded her cylinder to high security dimple pin cylinders.

The rest of my day was quiet till around 9pm when I had a call out to a family that that had been broken into, the culprits had smashed the glass on their French doors at the rear of the property, I got to them and secured their door by boarding it over and using batons and coach bolts so not to damage the frame of their door.

Then it was home for a well deserved dinner.

I want to convey my sincere thanks to everyone from MPL, from the way my enquiry was handled the course booking was great. I had so much fun on the course too learning so many things that have taken me from being employed and earning in a minimum wage job to being my own boss and taking my own business forward.

Thanks MPL I couldn’t have done it without you!!