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

  • Why this rating is the most accurate.
  • Our editors gather deep company info.
  • Performance is Guaranteed.

Diamond certified companies are top rated and guaranteed

Why Trust Diamond Certified Locksmiths Rated Highest in Quality?

A professional locksmith installs a new deadbolt on a front door for a customer. You'll feel confident choosing an Santa Clara County locksmith service listed above because each has been rated Highest in Quality and has earned Diamond Certified. For additional information on how best to choose and work with a good locksmith in Santa Clara County, read the following articles. Photo: 1st Lock & Security (2012)

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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DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT CONTRIBUTORS IN THE Santa Clara County – Locksmith CATEGORY

Gary Lekan is a 42-year veteran of the locksmith industry and owner of First Lock & Security Technologies, a Diamond Certified company since 2011. He can be reached at (650) 204-4376 or by email.

Gary Lekan

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Gary Lekan: Locked In

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

LOS ALTOS – While many people enter a professional field with full intention, for some, the catalyst of a lifelong career emerges from a completely chance occurrence. When asked how he became a locksmith, Gary Lekan relates just such an account. “I broke the key off in my car’s ignition, so I took it to a local locksmith shop where a friend of mine was working. There was a long line of customers, so he handed me a couple little extraction tools and gave me a quick rundown on what to do. Within a couple of minutes, I got the key out and handed the tools back to my friend. He was impressed by my promptness and said, ‘You might be good at this!’ That was the beginning of what has been an interesting career to say the least!” Today, nearly 40 years later, Gary continues to impress as owner of First Lock & Security Technologies.

Originally from Chicago, Gary moved to the Bay Area when, just a year into his locksmith career, his employer made the impulsive decision to move the business west. “I had just been out to visit my brother-in-law, who was attending Stanford, and I really fell in love with the Bay Area,” he remembers. “When I returned to Chicago, my boss came up with an idea to move the business out to California. Within four months, I was back on the West Coast.” Almost four decades later, Gary still appreciates the attributes that first attracted him to the Bay Area. “The hills, the ocean, the year-round greenery—there’s just so much beauty around here and I absolutely love it.”

In his life and career, Gary espouses the value of integrity as the key to happiness. “Rather than taking the easy way out of hard situations, you have to take the time to patiently work through your problems,” he says. “Life has its ups and downs, but if you live with integrity, you’re likely to come out on top in the end.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Gary says he would employ his expertise to help educate others in his trade. “I would like to start a locksmith school. There’s a lot of demand for qualified locksmiths these days, and I enjoy passing on my knowledge.” However, he says retirement wouldn’t be all work and no play. “I’d definitely try to do more of the things I love. I’d go on more ski trips, play more golf and spend more time working in my garden.”
Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite band?
A: The Band.

Q: If you could immediately master a musical instrument, what would you choose?
A: The saxophone.

Q: What’s your favorite restaurant?
A: Napoletana Pizzeria in Mountain View.

Q: Do you do any celebrity impressions?
A: I used to do Louis Armstrong when I was a kid.

Q: What’s your favorite dessert?
A: Cherries jubilee.

Q: What’s the most memorable situation you’ve encountered on the job?
A: I was changing the locks at this guy’s house, when all of a sudden he brings out an armful of two-by-fours and says, “OK, I need you to help me barricade these doors. My wife is coming with the police and they’ll be here any minute.” I said, “I don’t think so, you’re on your own!” and got out of there as fast as I could!

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Testing for Proper Door Functionality

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LOS ALTOS — If a door in your home is difficult to close, lock or unlock, it could be more than a mere inconvenience. In fact, a doorknob latch or deadbolt that isn’t functioning properly can actually make your home more… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Testing a Deadbolt Lock

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Complete Video Transcription:

LOS ALTOS —  Host, Sarah Rutan: If you're using a deadbolt lock on your home, you'll want to ensure it is properly installed. Today, we're… Read more

SELECTED PHOTOS FROM THESE TOP RATED COMPANIES

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INDUSTRY INFORMATION AND RESEARCHED ARTICLES BY THE DIAMOND CERTIFIED RESOURCE

  • Medeco

  • Honeywell

  • Mul-T-Lock

  • Keri

  • Schlage

  • Kwikset

  • Baldwin

  • Emtek

  • Schlage Primus

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

business rekeying
auto lock and key installation
car transponder keys
24 hour emergency locksmith services
home locksmiths
door lock installation
deadbolt installation
lock picking services
padlock opening
lock and key installation
fingerprint door lock installation
keyless door locks
keypad door lock sets
commercial locksmiths
door lock hardware installation
garage door lock rekeying
biometric door lock set up
sliding door locks
entry door locks
glass door locks
master key cutting
replacement car key cutting
home rekeying
security locks
locksmith key cutting
car locksmith services
brass door locks
mortise door locks
electric door locks

Alviso
Blossom Valley
Campbell
Coyote
Cupertino
East Palo Alto
Gilroy
Holy City
Los Altos
Los Altos Hills
Los Gatos
Milpitas
Monte Sereno
Monte Vista
Morgan Hill
Mountain View
Mt Hamilton
New Almaden
Palo Alto
Permanente
Redwood Estates
San Jose
San Martin
Santa Clara
Saratoga
Stanford
Sunnyvale

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94035
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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
Explaining Your Requirements To a Santa Clara County Locksmith

When you seek out a locksmith, you’re dealing with your security and the security of your home and property. Sometimes, you want to create a plan to secure your home or business. Sometimes you just need to get in a locked door but don’t have a key. Either way, you might find it useful to have prepared questions. You want to be sure you are working with a trustworthy person. Use a set of questions outlining your concerns to compare the responses you get from different locksmiths. For bigger projects, even outlining a rough idea will help you evaluate how a locksmith develops a plan for you. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Do I want a Diamond Certified locksmith that is rated best in quality and backed by the Diamond Certified Guarantee?
  • When working to install security system on a construction site, how many different kinds of access do I need
  • If I am dealing with a mobile locksmith, does the company have a brick and mortar presence?
  • Do I want to change all the locks at my house so that I only need one key for all doors?
  • In an emergency, am I dealing with a local locksmith?
  • 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 dealing with an auto locksmith, does my car have any special kinds of keys or special security features in the keys?
  • 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 update access to make it easier for a handicapped person to enter?
  • When planning to install a safe or vault, where do I want to place the safe? Do I need additional bracing or support?
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What To Ask In Person
Talking With a Santa Clara County Locksmith in Person

After you’ve screened some good possibilities, you can visit locksmiths in San Jose, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Mountain View, Milpitas, or other Santa Clara County areas in person. The following are some questions to ask:

  • 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
  • Can you tell me more about how you trained to be a locksmith? Were you an apprentice? (Apprenticeships are standard.)
  • 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
    Get Opinions About Local Locksmiths from Santa Clara County Homeowners

    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 Santa Clara 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:

    • Was the final price for your emergency locksmith service similar to the estimate? Or did the local locksmiths tack on extra charges on site to inflate the price?
    • If you worked with a Santa Clara County locksmith on a security plan for your house, were all your concerns listened to and addressed?
    • Did they offer to open a locked house door or say that they automatically had to replace the lock?
    • 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 it was an emergency situation, did you get timely service or were you kept waiting?
    • 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?
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  • Review Your Options
    Find the Best Locksmith in Santa Clara County

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

    Locksmith’s services go well beyond handling a lockout, and it’s best to know a locksmith before you actually need one. If you can find a good locksmith before a crisis arises, you’ll be better prepared to handle the situation. Once you’ve done a bit of research, you’ll feel confident in your choice of security professional.
    Locksmiths help us make our personal spaces and our possessions safe, whether they are planning access control for a large building, getting a broken key out of a lock, or opening a locked door. You need an experienced, trusted security professional to offer effective security for you and your property.
    Before deciding on the best locksmith in Santa Clara County for you, it’s important to consider the following questions.

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

    An estimate is the start of every project – no matter how urgent you feel the situation is or how small the project. Try to remember to ask about hidden fees. For example, does the locksmith charge mileage fees? What are the labor costs? What are the prices of the installed materials? Are there extra charges for late night or other times of day? Are there fees for removing existing hardware? Get the estimate as detailed as possible. Sign the estimate only after you are comfortable with it. You should ask to be made aware of any extra charges that come up. Never sign a blank invoice.
    Ongoing Communication with Your Santa Clara County Locksmith
    You can take a role in making sure you get good service. In an emergency situation, most of the work will likely be performed in front of you. You can see the work as it happens. If additional costs come up, ask for any details before approving them. Be aware of any damage that occurs, and take pictures if possible. Bring the damage to the locksmith’s attention. Ask about how to work with the company’s insurance process. Report your claim and supporting information to the company as soon as you can. Ask how you are expected to work with the locksmith’s insurance or bonding companies.
    Open and constant communication is especially important when you are involved in projects that unfold over time, for example commercial projects or large home security installations. Establish a timeline and agree with your locksmith about when a particular service should be complete or device installed. Notify the locksmith as soon as you see any potential for delays. If you have problems, describe the issue in as much detail as you can. Talk with your locksmith about the issue. Keep clear, detailed, and concise records to help keep larger projects on schedule.
    How You Can Support Your Santa Clara County Locksmith’s Efforts
    Find out as much information as you can about the keys and locks you currently use. The more you can tell your locksmith, the more time and effort you will save. If you are aware that you have a special kind of vehicle key, tell your locksmith. If you know the make and model of your car when you are talking about it with your locksmith, that will at least help narrow down if the locksmith can provide keys for that car.
    Never make it hard for your locksmith to reach you, especially on extended projects, since it will only slow the work down. If you designate someone to work with the locksmith, make sure the locksmith has contact information for your designee. Tell both your locksmith and your designee how long you expect it will take your designee to give an answer. Determine with your designee what questions he or she can answer on his or her own and when he or she needs to ask you. Let your designee know what kind of response time to expect when contacting you.

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  • Be a Good Customer
    How Can You Be a Good Locksmith Company Customer?

    It’s your 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 steps you can take to be a good customer when hiring a Santa Clara 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 Santa Clara 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 Santa Clara 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
Check Your Invoice vs. Actual Costs Charged by Your Santa Clara County Locksmith

At the end of a project, check your invoice against the estimate. Ask about any additional charges that were added on but not approved by you.

For larger projects, verify all installed devices against the invoice to be certain they are the correct brand and model.

Test your new keys by trying them in all of the locks. Let your locksmith know right away if a key doesn't work or if you're having trouble working a new lock.

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Written Warranties
Be Sure to Collect and Keep All Warranties for Locksmithing Services

You may or may not receive warranties depending on what your project involved. When you are working with your locksmith to decide which devices to install, consider what the warranties include before you make a final choice. For more sophisticated devices such as access card readers or biometric devices, understand what the available warranties cover and what your locksmith guarantees vs. what the manufacturer covers. Be sure to get all applicable warranties before the project ends.

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Top 10 Requests
Top Service Requests for Locksmiths in Santa Clara County and Beyond

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

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.

Duplicate Vehicle Key Cutting
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.

Building Security Access
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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
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.

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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

blade
Portion of the key inserted into the lock.

blank
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.

bow
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

cylinder
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.

deadbolt
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

fire-resistive
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.

fit
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.

function
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.

grade
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

high-security
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.

impression
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.

keyway
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.

locksmith
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.

pick
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.

rekey
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.

strike
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.

transponder
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. 

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

UL
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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