Diamond Certified Companies are Rated Highest in Quality and Helpful Expertise.

  • Why this rating is the most accurate.
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Diamond certified companies are top rated and guaranteed

Why Trust Diamond Certified Locksmiths Rated Highest in Quality?

A professional locksmith opens a locked car door for a customer.

You are the customer. If your goal is to choose a locksmith that will deliver high customer satisfaction and quality, you’ll feel confident in choosing a Diamond Certified locksmith. Each has been rated Highest in Quality in the most accurate ratings process anywhere. And you’re always backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee. Here’s why the Diamond Certified ratings and certification process will help you find a top-rated locksmith and is unparalleled in its accuracy, rigor and usefulness:

1) Accuracy: All research is performed by live telephone interviews that verify only real customers are surveyed, so you’ll never be fooled by fake reviews.

2) Statistical Reliability: A large random sample of past customers is surveyed on an ongoing basis so the research results you see truly reflect a Diamond Certified company’s top-rated status.

3) Full Disclosure: By clicking the name of a company above you’ll see the exact rating results in charts and read verbatim survey responses as well as researched articles on each qualified company.

4) Guaranteed: Your purchase is backed up with mediation and the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee, so you can choose with confidence.

Click on the name of a Diamond Certified company above to read ratings results, researched articles and verbatim customer survey responses to help you make an informed decision.

More than 200,000 customers of local companies have been interviewed in live telephone calls, and only companies that score Highest in Quality in customer satisfaction–a 90+ on a 100 scale–as well as pass all of the credential-based ratings earn Diamond Certified. By requiring such a high score to qualify, the Diamond Certified program eliminates mediocre and poorly performing companies. Read detailed information about the ratings and certification process.

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Randy Reed is a lifetime veteran of the locksmith trade and owner of Reed Brothers Security, a Diamond Certified company since 2013. He can be reached at (510) 456-0989 or by email.

Randy Reed

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Randy Reed: Born to Locksmith

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter

OAKLAND — For Randy Reed, an early education in the locksmith trade set the stage for long-term professional success. “When I was growing up, my dad was a landlord and processed repossessions for six different banks in the Oakland area,” he explains. “He would take over the properties, manage them and turn them around so they could be resold. He taught my brother, Ron, and I to do lock work for him at a very young age. By the time I was seven, I was pretty much running his lock shop out of our basement.”

Later, while attending UC Berkeley, Randy worked nights as a locksmith to pay his tuition, and after he graduated, he partnered with his brother to open their own lock shop. “When Ron and I opened our shop back in 1981, it was just the two of us,” he says. “By 1990, we had more than 50 employees, and today we’re probably the largest locksmith and alarm shop of our kind in the state.”

Today, as owner of Reed Brothers Security, Randy says his favorite part of his job is exceeding his customers’ expectations. “Since we’re one of the largest locksmith shops in Northern California, we carry a wide selection of products, so I really enjoy matching customers with the right products and giving them a real ‘wow’ customer service experience.”

A resident of Alameda (where he lives with his wife, Laurel), Randy says he enjoys the dynamic character of the Bay Area. “It’s a fun place to live—there’s plenty to do, the weather is great and the food is even better. It’s nice living in a place where you don’t really have weather but you’re close to visiting it when you want to.”

Outside of work, Randy engages in a variety of pastimes and hobbies. “I love watching movies, backpacking, cooking, skiing and weight lifting,” he says. “I’m also an avid gardener—I grow vegetables, succulents and cactus—and I enjoy going to visit my kids at their colleges.”

In his life and career, Randy espouses the importance of addressing needs on a variety of levels. “My goal is to take care of everybody and keep them happy,” he says. “If my employees are happy, they stick around; if my customers are happy, they come back. The trick is finding ways to meet everybody’s needs.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The Oakland A’s.

Q: Music or talk radio?
A: Both. I’m a bit of a politics junkie, so I enjoy following the news and hearing arguments from different perspectives.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Otaez Mexican Restaurant in Alameda.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Scotland and Wales.

Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?
A: My 10-speed bike.

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Door Hardening 101


OAKLAND — One of the most common ways burglars break into homes is by kicking in an exterior door. The reason they’re able to do this so often is simple: the hardware on most doors doesn’t provide any real protection. By taking… Read more

Considerations for Choosing a Safe


OAKLAND — Your home may be equipped with a good security system, but if you own a lot of valuables, you should consider buying a safe. However, not all safes are alike, so it’s important to look for quality when making your… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Door Hardening 101

Complete Video Transcription:

OAKLAND — Host, Sarah Rutan: As your home’s first line of security, you’ll want to make sure your exterior doors are properly reinforced against break-ins. Today we’re in… Read more




  • Medeco

  • Honeywell

  • Mul-T-Lock

  • Keri

  • Schlage

  • Kwikset

  • Baldwin

  • Emtek

  • Schlage Primus

Schlage Door Locks
Baldwin Hardware
Von Duprin
Weiser Lock
Dexter Locks
Best Locks
Yale Locks
Arrow Locks & Hardware
Primus Locks
Master Lock
Chicago Locks
Alarm Locks Electro-Mechanical Hardware
Abus Locks
Adams Rite Magnetic Door Hardware
Emtek Hardware
Accurate Lock & Hardware
American Access Systems
DynaLock Hardware
Essex Hardware
General Electric Hardware
Lockmasters Door Locks
Multi Lock Hardware
Rocky Mountain Hardware

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Castro Valley
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International (ASIS) (www.asisonline.org/)
Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) (www.aloa.org/)
Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS) (www.bsis.ca.gov/)
California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) (www.dca.ca.gov/)
California Locksmiths Association (www.californialocksmith.org/)
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (www.ftc.gov/)
The Government Security Conference and Expo (GovSec) (govsecinfo.com/Home.aspx)
International Security Conference and Exposition West (ISC West) (www.iscwest.com/)
Locksmith Ledger International (www.locksmithledger.com/)
The National Locksmith www.thenationallocksmith.com/)
Safe and Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA) (www.savta.org/)
Security Hardware Distributors Association (SHDA) (associationdatabase.com/aws/SHDA/pt/sp/Home_Page)
Society of Professional Locksmiths (SOPL) (www.sopl.us/)
Yankee Security Convention (www.yankeesecurity.org/)

Know What You Want
Know What You Need from Alameda County Locksmiths

Sometimes you just want a locksmith to come at once and let you into your vehicle or house. Sometimes you want a locksmith to help you work out a security plan for your house or business. In either case, when looking for a locksmith in Alameda County, you may find it helpful to prepare a list of questions to ask the locksmith.

After all, you are relying on the locksmith to work with you on your security concerns. You want to be sure you have someone you trust. If you have a set of questions outlining your concerns, you can compare the responses you get and find the best locksmith for your specific needs. For larger projects, you may only have rough ideas of what you want, but identifying those needs will help your locksmith work with you to develop a plan.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Do I want a Diamond Certified locksmith company that is rated best in quality and backed by the Diamond Certified Guarantee?
  • In an emergency, am I dealing with a local locksmith service?
  • If I am dealing with a mobile locksmith, does the company have a brick and mortar presence?
  • When dealing with an auto locksmith, does my car have any special kinds of keys or special security features in the keys?
  • When planning a security system for my home, what kinds of things do I need to secure? (wood doors, metal doors, sliding doors, windows)
  • When planning to install a safe or vault, where do I want to place the safe? Do I need additional bracing or support?
  • When working to install security system on a construction site, how many different kinds of access do I need?
  • When working to secure a large building, how many areas do I want to restrict access to? What kinds of people will have access to those areas?
  • Do I want to change all the locks at my house so that I only need one key for all doors?
  • Do I want to update access to make it easier for a handicapped person to enter?
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What To Ask In Person
What to Ask Alameda County Locksmiths in Person

After you’ve identified some good prospects, you can visit locksmiths in San Leandro, Berkeley, Fremont, Hayward, Oakland or other Alameda County cities in person. The following are some questions you might want to ask:

  • Can you tell me more about how you trained to be a locksmith? Were you an apprentice? (Apprenticeships are standard.)
  • How will do your goods and services work with the alarm company I am considering using? Do you have to coordinate with them at all?
  • I am considering installing a safe for my papers/jewelry/cash. Can you recommend a model and placement options?
  • I noticed that you arrived in a vehicle with no company markings and no equipment. Can you tell me why?
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  • What To Ask References
    Learn from Residents Who Have Previously Hired Local Locksmiths

    It’s best to choose a Diamond Certified locksmith because all certified companies have passed an in-depth ratings process that most other companies can’t pass. If you want quality from a locksmith in Alameda County and the greater Bay Area, you can have confidence choosing a Diamond Certified company. Diamond Certified reports are available online for all certified companies. And you’ll never be fooled by fake reviews. That’s because all research is performed in live telephone interviews of actual customers.

    If you can’t find a Diamond Certified locksmith within reach, you’ll have to do some research on your own. If you do, it’s wise to call some references provided by your locksmith. Keep in mind, though,

    that references provided to you by the locksmith are not equal in value to the large random sample of customers surveyed during the Diamond Certified ratings process. That’s because references given to customers from companies are cherry-picked instead of randomly selected from all their customers. So the contractors will likely give you a few customers to call that they know are satisfied.

    If you do call references on your own, specifically ask for a list of the company’s 10 most recent customers. This will help avoid them giving you the names of only customers they know were satisfied. Some questions to ask include:

    • If it was an emergency situation, did you get timely service or were you kept waiting?
    • Was the final price for your emergency service similar to the estimate? Or did they tack on extra charges on site to inflate the price?
    • Did they offer to open a locked house door or say that they automatically had to replace the lock?
    • If you got a duplicate key, did it work as expected?
    • If you got a duplicate vehicle key, did it include any electronics?
    • Did you think the price charged for the products or services was fair?
    • If you worked with the locksmith on construction site access, do you think you received sound advice about the lock system to use?
    • If you worked with a locksmith on a store security project, do you think the recommended approach covered the security concerns in your space?
    • If you worked with a locksmith on a large building project, do you think the project was well coordinated? Were the right keys with the right level of access provided?
    • If you worked with a locksmith on a security plan for your house, were all your concerns listened to and addressed?
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  • Review Your Options
    Find and Hire a Good Locksmith in Alameda County

    The Diamond Certified symbol has been awarded to companies that scored Highest in Quality in an accurate ratings process.

    We sometimes only think of locksmiths in an emergency, but they actually have a number of valuable services to offer. That’s one reason why it makes sense to locate a good locksmith before any emergency situation arises. Once you’ve done a bit of research, you’ll feel confident that you’ve chosen the right security professional to work with you.

    Whether it’s opening a locked door, getting a broken key out of a lock, or planning access control for entire buildings, locksmiths get access to some of our cherished and valuable possessions. You want an experienced security professional who can not only make useful recommendations about how best to secure your home and property, but also someone you can trust.

    Your choice of locksmith ? So before deciding on the best locksmith in Alameda County for you, it’s important to consider the following questions.

    • Can the Alameda County locksmith provide timely service, especially in emergency situations?
    • Are costs communicated clearly and precisely, without your being surprised by add-on charges?
    • Does the locksmith have the capacity to handle any special requirements you have in terms of key technology?
    • Is the locksmith as dedicated to keeping your home, property, and valuables safe as you are?
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  • How To Work With
    Get Accurate Estimates Before Your Alameda County Locksmith Begins Work

    Whether you are in an emergency situation where you are locked out, or whether you are beginning a bigger project with a locksmith, it’s important to get an estimate of the work involved.

    Always probe for additional costs. For example, are there mileage costs to visit the scene of a lockout? Are there extra charges for late night or other times of day? What are the costs of the hardware or devices that are to be installed. What are the labor costs? Are there costs for removing existing locks or other devices?

    Be sure to insist that the estimate is as detailed as possible.

    Once the estimate is written, you can sign it. Ask for any additional charges to be run past you before the costs are incurred. Never sign a blank work estimate.

    While Your Alameda County Locksmith is Working for You
    Once your locksmith starts working with you, it’s important to stay on top of the job. For emergency services, most of the work will be performed with you present – as you wait to get back in your home or vehicle. You can observe the work that goes on. If additional costs come up, be sure to ask for any details before agreeing. Note any damage that occurs. Take pictures, if possible. Immediately bring it to the attention of the locksmith and ask about the company’s insurance. Report the damage and supporting documentation to the company as soon as possible and follow their procedures for insurance claims.

    For longer-term projects, such as commercial projects or large home security installations, it’s important to keep in contact with your locksmith. Once a timetable is established, check that it is maintained. Note what products or services are to be completed at which points in the timeline.

    Get in touch as soon as you see any slipping. If you have problems on a large project, note the problem in as much specific detail as possible and communicate with your locksmith about the issue. Keeping open lines of communication at all times with clear, detailed, and concise information will help keep larger projects on track.

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  • Be a Good Customer
    Making It Easier to Work with Your Alameda County Locksmith

    The more detail you can provide your locksmith, the better. Understand your current keys and locks as much as possible. For example, if you have a special kind of car key, let your locksmith know. When you are working with your locksmith on projects over time, make sure your locksmith has the right contact information for you.

    If you designate someone who can work with the locksmith, make sure the locksmith has that person’s contact information and a guide to how long it will take that person to provide answers. Then make an agreement with that person about what questions they can answer, and if they need to contact you, how to contact you and how long you might take to answer.

    How Can You Be a Good Locksmith Customer in Alameda County?
    It’s the locksmith’s responsibility to put in quality security products using the best possible installation techniques. But you play a big part in the success of your locksmith, too.

    Here are a few simple steps you can take to be a good customer when hiring an Alameda County locksmith.

    • Be clear and upfront with the locksmith. Let them know what you want from your locksmith, the long-term outcome you’re expecting and specific ways they can satisfy your expectations.
    • Remember, a friendly smile goes a long way!
    • Before you hire a locksmith in Alameda County, restate your expectations and goals, and reiterate to the locksmith representative your understanding of the agreement. Most problems with local locksmith occur because of a breakdown in communication. By being clear about your expectations and theirs, you can avoid most conflicts.
    • Ask your locksmith if you should call to check on the progress or if he will call you with updates.
    • Be sure your service representative has a phone number where they can reach you at all times while they’re working. The work will move along more smoothly if your locksmith can reach you for any necessary updates, questions or work authorizations.
    • When your contractor contacts you, return calls promptly to keep the locksmith on schedule.
    • Pay for the locksmith’s work promptly.

    Why would you want to be a good customer? Locksmiths in Alameda County appreciate customers who are straightforward, honest and easy to work with. Your good customer behavior sets the tone from your end and creates an environment conducive to a good relationship. Things may very well go smoother and any problems may be more easily resolved.

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Check The Work
Get What You've Paid For

Once your locksmith’s job is completed, check your invoice against the locksmith services that were estimated. Be sure to question any charges that were not mentioned to you.

For larger projects, check all installed devices against the invoice to be sure they are the designated brand and model.

You may also want to check that newly cut keys work in all of your locks, and that any new hardware functions as promised. Of course, you’ll want to notify your locksmith immediately if anything seems wrong or doesn’t work as you expect it to.

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Written Warranties
Ask For Any Warranties

Depending on the hardware installed, there may or may not be warranties available. For more sophisticated devices, such as access card readers or biometric devices, there will probably be warranties. It’s a good idea to ask about available warranties as you choose which devices to install. Be sure to get all applicable warranties at the end of the installation.

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Top 10 Requests
Top Locksmith Service Requests in Alameda County

Locksmiths provide a surprisingly large array of services and consider themselves security professionals. Below are some of the most common service requests locksmiths receive.

Duplicate Vehicle Keys
Locksmiths can provide duplicate keys for vehicles, even vehicles with sophisticated electronics or other high-security keys. By supplying your locksmith with your vehicle manufacturer – BMW, GM, etc – and your car model, you can give your locksmith the information he or she needs to know if he or she can duplicate your key. Locksmiths have specialized, highly sophisticated machines to duplicate such keys. These machines include specifications directly from the car manufacturers for duplicating the keys.

Duplicate House Keys
Locksmiths can duplicate house/apartment keys for you. It’s often better to work with a locksmith to make duplicate keys. Locksmiths bring consistent training to key duplication, which is often better than service you get in other stores, where clerks generally have little experience with key cutting and may rotate often. Locksmiths also have better machines that make cleaner cuts over the long term. Locksmiths invest in key cutting machinery of all kinds and find it easier to duplicate unusual key types.

Lockouts occur when someone locks themselves out of their home or vehicle. When no duplicate key is on hand or no roadside assistance program is available, you often must fall back on a locksmith to let you back in. Emergency locksmiths and 24/7 locksmiths are available but be sure that they are licensed. A reputable locksmith will quote an estimate over the phone before coming out.

Safe or Vault Installation
Locksmiths install safes or vaults in the home or in commercial buildings. Be sure your locksmith advises on the best type of safe for your valuables. Other installation considerations include where the safe will be installed, any additional support required for the safe, and considerations of electronic vs. dial locks.

Master Key Systems
For commercial or construction projects, locksmiths provide master key systems, in which different keys provide varying levels of access across the site or building. As the name implies, one key or group of keys will give access to everything, while other keys or groups of keys can be limited in the access they provide.

Construction Site Security
Locksmiths can offer specific lock systems for construction sites. One common system uses a group of keys that give access across the site during construction. Once construction ends, a new key is used that triggers a change in the locks. After this new key is used, the keys used during the construction no longer work.

Home Security Systems
Locksmiths can provide complete home security designs, recommending appropriate locks for different kinds of access points, such as wooden doors, metal doors, windows, and sliding doors.

Store Security
Stores often use locksmiths to provide security devices including annunciation devices that signal customers crossing thresholds, strategically placed mirrors, and security domes in the ceiling.

Building Security
Locksmiths provide building security from access control to exits. Access control can include devices such as access card readers or biometric devices used to monitor and control ingress. Locksmiths can also provide automatic door closers, to ensure that commercial-grade exit doors close.
Handicapped Access
Round door knobs are not easily used by many handicapped persons. Locksmiths can replace round door knobs or other less user-friendly door openers in commercial or residential buildings with lever systems that are more readily accessible.

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Glossary Of Terms
Glossary of Locksmithing Terms for Local Locksmith Customers

The world of locks and keys can be full of unfamiliar terms. The best idea is to ask your locksmith to explain thoroughly, but you may find the words below useful.

Americans with Disabilities Act
Legislation requiring access for persons with disabilities. Relevant to locksmiths because traditional door knobs may not be considered compliant and would then need to be replaced.

Also known as: ADA

American National Standards Institute
Agency that sets the standards for lock design. Also provides a ratings systems for locks.

Also known as: ANSI

access control
Regulating who can or cannot gain entrance to a specific area. Locksmiths provide devices that determine access control.

Also known as: card access, key card access, badge readers

barrel key
A kind of key often used for furniture that is antique or antique in style. The barrel refers to the hole drilled in the key’s bottom. It’s a myth that all barrel keys are interchangeable.

biometric device
A system that uses recognition of some part of the anatomy or being to control access. For example, a biometric device may scan a fingerprint or your retina to determine if you are allowed access.

bit key
A kind of key used for door locks that are antique or antique style. May be found on interior doors of older homes. It differs from the barrel key because the bit key has a little post on the end of the key that protrudes. It’s a myth that all bit keys are interchangeable.

Also known as: skeleton key

Portion of the key inserted into the lock.

Key that has not yet been cut. You need to have duplicate or replacement keys cut on the correct blanks, or they will not work. Hardware or other non-specialist stores stock some key blanks, while locksmiths stock thousands of different kinds.

Handle portion of the key.

case ward
When you insert a key into a lock, case wards are guards that protrude on each side of the keyway that prevent the key from entering if the wrong key blank is used to create the key.

cam lock
A kind of small lock used for tool boxes, cabinets, and similar things. The cam is the arm on the rear of the lock that moves along with the key to lock or unlock the cabinet.

change key
A change key is part of a master lock system. The change key is the most specific key in the system and would typically open a single door. When dealing with safes or with a push-button lock, a change key could also mean a device used to change the combination.

composite safe
A safe designed to resist both fire and burglars. Look for labels that indicate both a burglary and fire rating to ensure your safe is a composite.

Also known as: fire resistive, burglar resistive

control key
A specific type of key that works to install or remove an interchangeable core.

Also known as: core key

The part of the lock where the key is actually put in. When a door knob has one keyhole, there is one cylinder. Most locksmiths charge per cylinder to re-key locks. You can get the most accurate estimate of costs and time by knowing how many cylinders you have.

A deadbolt can be a single or double cylinder type. For a single cylinder deadbolt, you’ll see a keyhole on the outside and a thumb-turn knob inside. A double-cylinder deadbolt has keyholes on both sides. A door that has both a door knob with a lock and a double-cylinder deadbolt would count as having three cylinders.

cylindrical lock
The lockset most typically seen today. To install a cylindrical lock, the locksmith creates a large hole that goes all the way through the door. The deadbolt, key-in-knob, or key-in-lever lock can then be installed.

A device that is part or all of a lock. Once the device is extended, it cannot be retracted except using the key or other method to operate the lock.

door prep
Many new doors have the hole pattern pre-cut. Many of these are standard configurations and have an ANSI number. If you provide your locksmith with the ANSI number, he or she will be able to determine much of the information needed to provide the correct hardware.

exit alarm
A device that makes a noise when a specifically-equipped door is opened. Typically, an exit alarm is used when the business must leave the door unlocked to comply with the fire code but also does not want unlimited access to the area.

Also known as: emergency exit

Refers to how long a safe or other device protects against fire. It’s important to know what you are going to store. For example, papers require at least a minimum of 1 hour, 350 degree protection. Computer storage devices or photographs will be destroyed by the time the temperature is 350 degrees. Ask for advice about the best containers for what you want to store. Labels should show ratings from Underwriter’s Laboratories or the manufacturer.

A general term used to refer to making a key for a lock by any method other than duplicating the key. Required when all keys for a specific lock are lost.

Locks may be designed in different ways to provide specific attributes, or functions. For example, A privacy lock typically appears on bathroom or bedroom doors. A storeroom lock always locks from the outside but is free from the inside. Knowing what you need to secure will help your locksmith make the best recommendations.

A ranking set by ANSI for defining the security and durability of a device. Grade1 are the most secure and durable. Grade 2 could be considered commercial strength and used for moderately trafficked areas. Grade 3 locks are typically installed for residential use. Locksmiths can help you decide which grade to use.

Also known as: grade 1, grade 2, grade 3

A high-security lock is one that uses atypical, unconventional, or patented attributes to try to deter the most common kinds of lock attacks – which are drilling and picking. High-security locks are also used by some car manufacturers.

A way to create a key for a lock without taking the lock apart. A blank key is put into the lock over and over again, with the locksmith filing the key to over many tries to fit the lock. Not all types of locks can have keys created by impression.

interchangeable core
An interchangeable core refers to a part of a lock that can be removed or replaced without taking the lock apart. The interchangeable core is also called a cylinder. A control key allows the locksmith to take out one core and put another one in. A typical use of this lock system would be in college dorm rooms where residents change often.

Also known as: interchangeable cylinder

key code
The numbers and letters that appear on some locks and sometimes on some vehicles. The code allows a locksmith to use special knowledge or tools to create a key.

keyed alike
Used to describe locks that work with the same key.

keyed different
Refers to locks that need different keys to work.

key retaining
A lock that does not release a  key until the lock is locked.

The grooves or channels on a key. Different manufacturers use different keyways so that users are forced to use their own products. For example, Schlage doorknobs have a different keyway than Kwikset door knobs.

Maker or repairer of locks and keys. Also offers safe and vaults. Residential locksmiths and commercial locksmiths are often available out of the same shop. Security personnel who can help you design secure access and egress from your home or business.

Also known as:24/7 locksmith, 24 hour locksmith, 24 hours locksmith, 24 hr locksmith, auto locksmith, automotive locksmith, car locksmith, car key locksmith, emergency locksmith, master locksmith, mobile locksmith, professional locksmith

master key system
In a master key system, one special key (or set of keys) can open every door in the system. However, each door also has its own specific key that can only open that door. This is the simplest kind of master key system. A more complicated system might include different levels of access. A typical installation might be in an apartment building, where the owner or supervisor has a master key to enter any apartment, but each apartment dweller can only open their own door with their key.

mortise lock
A mortise lock is often considered an older kind of lock. It is characterized by having the lock installed in a cutout on the edge of the door. The cylindrical lock is now much more popular. When the keyhole is not part of the door knob or door lever itself but appears above or below the knob or lever, you are probably looking at a mortise lock.

A pick is either a tool used to open a lock without the correct key, or the act of opening the lock. You should note that most states consider possessing burglary tools illegal.

When a lock is rekeyed, the lock’s internal workings are adjusted so that a new key is required to operate the lock. Sometimes when a single lock is replaced, that new lock can be rekeyed to use the same key as the other locks that are already installed.

rim lock
A type of lock in which the installation does not require that a hole be created in the door – other than the holes used for the nails or screws. Instead, the lock is a box that is attached to the door’s surface. This is in contrast to other types of locks where a hole must be bored through the door or the door’s edge, and the lock set into that hole.

safe penetration
When you have lost the keys to your safe, or forgotten the combination, or the lock fails, or the lock has been vandalized and you cannot open the safe by normal methods, you can call a locksmith to open, or penetrate the safe. The degree of complexity involved depends on the quality of the safe – the higher the quality, the more difficult the penetration. Check with your locksmith because not every locksmith can provide this specialized service.

single-motion egress
Some fire codes require certain doors to allow single-motion egress. Single-motion egress refers to the user being able to open a door with one action – for example, slamming a hand against a crash bar. A door where single-motion egress is mandatory could not have both a door knob and a deadbolt, since the user would have to perform two motions to open both of them.

skeleton key
The phrase “skeleton key” is used to refer to keys of the barrel or bit type – that is keys that open antique or antique-style furniture or door locks. It’s a myth that all skeleton keys are interchangeable.

The strike is a metal plate that sits on the door frame across from the lock. When the door or lock is closed or locked, the bolt or the latch part of the lock fits into the strike. The fit must be proper for the lock to operate correctly and securely. Fixing or adjusting the strike is one of jobs that locksmiths are most frequently called on to perform.

Technology used to help prevent car theft. It consists of communication between the key and the vehicle’s computer. If the key and the computer exchange the correct information, the car can start.

Refers to keys and locks that are circular in shape. A common example is a bicycle lock.

Abbreviation for Underwriter’s Laboratory. UL provides product testing and rating. UL rates some locks – for example, for fire doors, and also provides the ratings for fire-resistive and burglar-resistive safes.

valet key
A key that allows the car to operate and opens the car’s doors but does not open the trunk, or the glove box, or the console.

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Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ for Good Locksmiths

Q: Why choose a Diamond Certified locksmith?
A: Diamond Certified helps you choose a local locksmith with confidence by offering a list of top-rated local companies who have passed the country’s most in-depth rating process. Only locksmiths rated Highest in Quality earn the prestigious Diamond Certified award. Most companies can’t pass the ratings. American Ratings Corporation also monitors every Diamond Certified company with ongoing research and ratings. And your purchase is backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee. So you’ll feel confident choosing a Diamond Certified locksmith.

Q: I’ve heard locksmiths don’t have to be licensed. Is that true?
A: In California, all locksmiths must be licensed by the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS). Never work with a locksmith that is not licensed.

It’s a good idea to work with good locksmiths who are insured, in case any damage occurs during the locksmith’s work. For added security, look for bonded locksmiths. These are locksmiths who, often in addition to insurance, are work with a bonding company. The bonding company will also provide money to cover damage or accident situations.

Q: What’s the difference between a hardware-store key and one created by a locksmith?
A: If the key that comes from the hardware store works, then you are set. However, locksmiths invest a great deal of time in training. The key machine at a hardware store is often run by a clerk with little training and frequent rotations. Locksmiths use better machines than the hardware store machines, which means the locksmith’s machines cut clearer and better keys over the long term. Locksmiths also tend to stock many different kinds of key blanks, while hardware stores stock a limited number.

Q: I have a very sophisticated vehicle key. Can a locksmith make me a second key?
A: This depends on the type of key or fob used to lock or unlock the vehicle. A small number of manufacturers are making devices that only a dealer can provide. However, you should be aware that locksmiths have very sophisticated machines to create sophisticated keys, including those with transponders and other electronics. It’s best to name your specific vehicle type and model and see if the locksmith can help you. Locksmiths often charge less than dealerships for this service.

Q: I’m in the middle of a lockout. What do I absolutely have to know about a locksmith?
A: Make sure that the locksmith is licensed and insured. Look for the license number on the locksmith’s vehicle or business car. Ask on the phone for an estimate including all parts and services; a reputable locksmith will not have a problem providing an estimate.

Provide as much information as possible for the locksmith about the kind lock – is it a car or house lock? Are there deadbolts? Is the key broken in the lock or ignition?

Once the locksmith arrives, look for a vehicle with lots of equipment and clear company markings – if the locksmith arrives in a private vehicle, ask why. Do not sign a blank work form – examine the estimate closely and ask about any possible additional fees.

Q: What is a sidewinder, or laser cut key?
A: On a laser cut key, the key’s cuts appear in the middle of the key blade, not on the top and bottom of the key blade. Initially, laser cut keys came with high-end cares like Mercedes and BMW. Now many manufacturers, including Audi, Saab, Honda, GM, VW, Lexus, Volvo, and Infinity use laser cut keys.

Professional locksmiths can create laser cut keys for you.

Q: How can I get a copy of a key marked “Do Not Duplicate”?
A: Ideally, when a key is marked “Do Not Copy” or “Unlawful to Copy” or “Do Not Duplicate,” a request for duplication should be accompanied by a letter from the supervisor or owner. On company letterhead, the letter should indicate which key is being copied, how many copies should be made, who will pick up the keys, and contact information for the letter writer.

Of course, you need to be aware that not all venues will honor the “Do Not Duplicate” instruction. A professional locksmith is most likely to do so.

Q: Can I give you my Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to get a key?
A: Sometimes you can give your VIN number to a car dealer and get a new key for your car. This does not work with locksmiths. The VIN number does not actually include the key code, or the information needed to create a key for the car. The dealer uses the VIN number to look up the key code in their database, typically for cars less than 10 years old. The databases are often not maintained to store more than 10 years of information.

Locksmiths can create or duplicate even sophisticated vehicle keys and often charge less than a dealership.

Q: How much does hiring a locksmith cost?
A: Of course, the answer to this question depends on what you need done and the local locksmith service that you hire, but you should always ask for estimates before any work is done, especially in lock-outs. A reputable locksmith will be upfront about costs. Be sure to ask about special charges, such as mileage or time-of-day costs. Labor and parts may be charged separately, so be sure to ask about both.

When working with a locksmith around your house or business, get a good idea of what you want to secure, any special security needs such as storerooms or fire doors, before you start the project. The more information you can provide upfront, the more accurate the estimate.

A trained locksmith can guide you in the selection of the right devices and products to work in your project.

Q: My key is sticking in my lock. What can I do?
A: As a first step, get some graphite. Spray the graphite in the keyhole and on the lock’s bolt (the part that inserts in the opening to form the lock.) Move the bolt several times to work the oil through the lock. Don’t worry about getting too much oil in the lock, but you will want to be prepared to wipe up any excess.

If the problem still persists, try working the lock with the door open. If the lock works well when open, then look to see whether the door and frame are aligned correctly. Check to see if there are obstructions or warping of the door or frame. Check to see if weather stripping is blocking the alignment.

Do not use petroleum-based oils or graphite on vehicle locks. For vehicle locks, try a Teflon or silicon-based product.

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