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Lever icon.png

Materials Labors

Uses 0 power.

This article is about the current version of DF.
Note that some content may still need to be updated.

Lever anim v50.gif

A lever is a building constructed from one mechanism on an empty tile. It can be built from the Workshops menu, Machines/fluids, Lever (Ui b.pngb-Ui bm.pngm-Ui bml.pngl). Once in place, it can be linked to one or more devices such as doors, bridges or supports, permitting you to control these other devices remotely. Order the lever to be pulled by clicking on it and selecting the Pull lever button. A dwarf with the lever operation labor will get assigned the job of pulling the lever. This dwarf might be a long way away, and the delay in pulling the lever can result in Fun. Like workshops, levers can be assigned to a specific dwarf, which will prevent other dwarves from pulling the lever. Levers also make good furniture choices when constructed with high-quality mechanisms.

Pressure plates are like levers, but are triggered by creatures or fluids directly rather than by giving an order to a dwarf. If levers are too much fun, a pressure plate may be a better choice. There is more information on trap design here.

Activation of the devices[edit]

When a lever is pulled, the connected device(s) activate. What happens during activation depends on the linked device:

  • Doors, hatches, and floodgates open and close.
  • Supports collapse, potentially causing a cave-in (pulling the lever again won't re-assemble the support, cave-in or not).
  • Bridges raise and lower, or retract and extend, depending on the type of bridge.
  • Gear assemblies toggle between engaged and disengaged (disengaged assemblies can't support other machinery).
  • Restraints release the creature assigned to them (leaving the restraint attached to the creature and, at present, unrecoverable).
  • Cages are deconstructed, releasing their occupants (needless to say, this is irreversible!)
  • Spikes raise and lower.
  • Bars retract and extend.

Different objects take different amounts of time to respond to activation; generally this is only a brief pause, but it can be enough for a charging goblin to cover more than a few tiles.


One mechanism is required to construct a lever, and then two more are required to link the lever with a device. You need a dwarf with the Mechanic labor enabled to link a lever to a device. The link is made by first selecting the lever with the mouse and choosing Link lever, which will bring up a window showing the mechanisms which will be used and which end of the link they will be used on. Then use the mouse to select the object the lever is to be linked to.

The linkage interface will give you the warning Cannot link to <object name> if the object is already linked, or tasked to be linked, to the lever in question. Buildings that are currently forbidden will also show the same warning message. A lever cannot be successfully linked to a locked door, as the dwarves must stand on the door to complete the link. The task will be suspended with a message that they cannot find a path.

Currently (as of 50.04) you cannot choose which specific mechanisms you want to use to connect the device to the lever; they will be automatically chosen in order of the oldest available mechanisms. The quality of a mechanism affects the accuracy of traps, but not the speed of activation. The first mechanism listed is for the device end, the second for the lever end. This is important when working with magma. One workaround is to order levers be constructed with mechanisms as you build them, but pause the construction of the lever as soon as the mechanism is delivered to the lever location. Then, when you want to use specific mechanisms, you can cancel the lever to make that lever's mechanism drop on the floor and become available for use. Alternatively you can forbid all of the mechanisms you do not want to use before linking the lever.

A single lever can be linked to any number of valid objects, and each object can have any number of levers controlling it.

There is no way to de-link an object without disassembling either object or lever. When using a lever for a single-use purpose (cages or supports), the mechanism in the lever will remain in the lever, but the object and its mechanism will deconstruct. In this manner, a single lever might accumulate many mechanisms. Deconstructing the lever will free all these mechanisms and allow their reuse, so it is advisable to keep your permanent and one-time linkages to separate levers.

In contrast with pressure plates, build order does not affect the timing of levers whatsoever. In any given tick, any levers will send their signals before any furniture receives those signals, so it as if levers are always considered to be built after the furniture they link to. In rare cases, it is possible for the order of arrival of the dwarf pulling the lever to affect the precise timing of lever-linked devices, as when using a hatch to drop a dwarf-- if the falling dwarf arrived later than the lever pulling dwarf, the dropping dwarf will take an extra tick to fall.

On/Off vs Open/Close[edit]

Levers normally have an "on" and an "off" state, seen as whether the small tag at the top of the lever is to the left ("off" state) or the right ("on" state). Upon being pulled, the state of the lever changes, and everything they're connected to updates to the corresponding state of that lever, and does not just change states ("toggle"). This becomes important if you have several levers attached to the same device, or one trigger attached to several systems.

Example: 2 levers (both in "off" position) are connected to a drawbridge. After pulling the first lever, the bridge will lift. Pulling the second lever tells the bridge to "open", which it already has done - no visible effect. When it is pulled a second time it will let the bridge down. This in turn requires the first lever (still in "open/lift" position) to be pulled twice to trigger a change (lift again), and so on.

"On" and "off" state is fixed and dependent on the lever, not the object that lever is linked to.

In DF Premium,

  • "lever to the left" is on
  • "lever to the right" is off

While in DF Classic,

  • "dash to the right" ( ó ) is on
  • "dash to the left" ( ò ) is off

Note, however, that gear assemblies are the sole exception to this: Instead of On/Off triggers, they indeed do toggle.

Several devices, such as floodgates and bridges, have a delayed response to all incoming signals, and will not respond to subsequent signals until the first has taken effect. For instance, if you pull a lever attached to a floodgate on then off in rapid succession, the floodgate will only respond to the first signal, independent of the position the lever rests in eventually.

In the unusual case that a device receives both an on and an off trigger in exactly the same tick, the device will change states-- an open device will close, and a closed device will open.

On/Off states[edit]

Objects that can be controlled by levers include:

Multiple Uses[edit]

A "step" is not a step that a dwarf makes, and not based on FPS. It's one "step" that the game advances. When paused (via spacebar ), you can manually advance the game "1 step" by hitting the period ( . ) key.

  • Bridge – Activates 100 steps after being triggered (see bug below)
    • On: Turns the bridge into either a raised drawbridge, or a retracted bridge, depending on which option was chosen when the bridge was constructed.
    • Off: Returns the bridge to normal.
  • Door – Activates instantly. Note that once you connect a door, it is either completely open or sealed shut. There is no "closed, but can be opened by a dwarf" state anymore.
    • On: Opens the door.
    • Off: Closes the door.
  • Floodgate – Activates 100 steps after being triggered.
    • On: Opens the floodgate.
    • Off: Closes the floodgate.
  • Floor hatch – Activates instantly. Note that, like doors, once you connect a hatch, it is either completely open or sealed shut.
    • On: Opens the hatch.
    • Off: Closes the hatch.
  • Grate – Activates 100 steps after being triggered. When it is open, it just disappears. Liquids go through it just the same, but it will no longer function as a floor/wall (depending on its orientation).
    • On: Opens the grate.
    • Off: Closes the grate.
  • Bars – Activates 100 steps after being triggered. When it is open, it just disappears. Liquids go through it just the same, but it will no longer function as a floor/wall (depending on its orientation).
    • On: Opens the bars.
    • Off: Closes the bars.
  • Upright Spear/Spikes – Activates 40 steps after being triggered.
    • On: Retracts spears/spikes.
    • Off: Extends spears/spikes.
  • Gear assembly – Activates instantly. When it is disengaged, no power goes through it and anything that is being kept up by its presence (like a windmill right on top of it) falls down.
    • On: Toggles gear state.
    • Off: Toggles gear state.
  • Track stop – Disables without delay, enables 40 steps after being triggered. When disabled, trackstops behave like the track (or floor) underneath them, and minecarts occupying the tile will not auto-dump or experience friction.
    • On: Disables the track stop.
    • Off: Enables the track stop.

These items, when activated, deconstruct, and/or cannot be triggered again until re-linked.

  • Cage – Activates instantly. Deconstructs the cage and releases all of its contents. The cage and its attached mechanism will be left on the floor nearby; you recover the mechanism used on the cage but you do not recover the mechanism used in the lever until you deconstruct the lever itself.
  • Restraint – Deconstructs the chain/rope and releases whatever creature it held. The restraint's mechanism will be left on the floor nearby, and the restraint itself will remain attached to the creature's neck; again, you recover the mechanism used on the restraint but you do not recover the mechanism used in the lever until deconstructing the lever itself.
  • Support – Deconstructs the support, ideally without a dwarf next to it. Most commonly used to cause controlled cave-ins. The support's building material and its attached mechanism can both be recovered (unless they happen to get destroyed in said cave-in).

Keeping track of levers[edit]

Since pulling the wrong lever can lead to lots of fun, it's worth making sure you know what your levers do.

  • From a building controlled by a lever, you can go to "Show linked buildings" to locate the lever it is controlled by;
  • From a lever, you can go to "Show linked buildings" to locate the buildings it controls;
  • Finally, it's helpful to give your levers descriptive names to make them easier to locate.

Toggling Passages[edit]

Since all activatable devices apart from gear assemblies have predefined "on" and "off" states, you cannot directly link a lever to two doors in such a way that a single lever flip opens one and closes the other. You can, however, make use of the differences between different linkable devices:

  • while doors and floodgates prevent passage when "off" and allow passage when "on", a bridge prevents passage by raising or retracting upon receiving an "on" signal and returns to its passable state when "off".
  • hatches, floor bars and floor grates can be placed over a channelled-out tile creating a gap in a passage. When closed (switched "off"), those structures now provide a path across the gap, but block passage when switched "on" and opening. Hatches, like doors, react immediately to signals, which makes them particularly useful for this purpose.

So, to "switch" between paths with a single lever, you could connect functionally different devices to it, e.g. a floodgate in one passage and a raising bridge in another. Whenever the lever is switched now, it will send the necessary signals to open one path and at the same time close the other.

If you want to "toggle" two buildings which follow the same switching rules, you will probably need to build a Logic device to do the job.


  • Linked devices that were prevented from operating on a previous trigger may engage immediately on the next trigger.

Animal trapAnvilArmor standBedBlocksBox (chest • coffer) • BucketCabinetCage (aquarium • terrarium) • Coffin (casket • sarcophagus) • RestraintSlabStatueTableThrone (chair) • Weapon rack
AltarBookcaseDisplay (display case • pedestal) • HiveNest box

BarsBridgeDoor (portal) • FloodgateGrateHatchRoadWindow
Machine and trap parts
Other buildings

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