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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Used to describe locks that work with the same key.
Refers to locks that need different keys to work.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.