A Glossary of Essential Locksmith Terms
Every industry has its own language and terms. These words and phrases can be confusing to anyone who is not part of the daily operations of a specific industry, and the locksmith business is no exception.
To help you understand the terms, acronyms, and phrases regularly used by professional locksmiths, Maximum Lock & Safe has created this handy reference guide. Here you’ll find valuable information allowing you to comprehend and communicate your needs effectively.
In rekeying a lock, the locksmith removes the pins and springs in the lock cylinder and replaces them with new pins and springs that work with a new and different key. Whereas, key control simply means accounting for all keys made to operate the locks. Once keys are loaned out, key control is lost.
This refers to the actual cuts in the key. Typically in new locks, this is stamped on the “bow” or head of the key.
Key bow refers to the top of the key commonly used as the grip or handle.
Broach refers to the grooves in the side of the key that is distinct to each individual manufacturer’s keyway.
Cam is the piece on the back of the lock that engages the lock bolt mechanism.
Grand Master Key
This a key that will work all locks keyed under the charted master key system. Often stamped on the key as GMK.
Sub Master Key
This key works for a specific group in a master key system under the Grand Master Key. For example, in a building with multiple floors, we can have a sub-master for each floor. This key will only work doors on that floor, whereas the Grand Master Key works all locks in the same building.
In the master key system, this is the name given to the individual keys under the Grand Master and Sub Master Keys.
This is when one or more keys work a lock in a master key system. This is common in an uncharted Master Key System, whereas the next key in the system is selected randomly without referring to the charted system. This is a massive security breach and should not be practiced at any time.
These keys are the ultimate in security. Typically controlled by the locksmith under contract with the lock manufacturer, these keys can not be copied or made by anyone without proper identification. In most cases, these keys are issued with a key control card. This card must be presented to the locksmith at the time new keys are requested. There is a patent protecting these keys from being made otherwise. The best part of having a High-Security Locking System is that when you issue the key to someone and get it back, you can feel confident that no keys were copied while on loan.
When bumping a lock, the key is initially inserted into the keyway one notch (pin) short of full insertion. Bumping the key inward forces it deeper into the keyway. The specially designed teeth of the bump key transmit a slight impact force to all of the key pins in the lock. The key pins transmit this force to the driver pins; the key pins stay in place. This physics action can be visualized by observing the same effect on the desktop toy: Newton’s cradle. Because the pin movements are highly elastic, the driver pins “jump” from the key pins for a fraction of a second, moving higher than the cylinder (shear line of the tumbler), then are pushed normally back by the spring to sit against the key pins once again. Even though this separation only lasts a split second, if a light rotational force is continuously applied to the key during the slight impact, the cylinder will turn during the short separation time of the key and driver pins, and the lock can be opened while the driver pins are elevated above the key way. Lock bumping takes only an instant to open the lock. The lock is not visibly damaged, although the force of the bump can leave an indentation on the front of the cylinder. Certain clicking and vibrating tools designed for bumping can also be used. These allow for the rapid repetition of bumping against locks that have advertised “bump proof” features. Only a rare few key-pin locks cannot be bumped. Abloy lock’s use rotating disk’s and are the only virtually “bump proof” cylinders as there are no pins or springs to allow for this method to be used.
Lock picking is the practice of unlocking a lock by manipulating the components of the lock device without the original key. Although lock-picking can be associated with criminal intent, it is an essential skill for the legitimate profession of locksmithing. In some countries, such as Japan, lock-picking tools are illegal for most people to possess, but in many others, they are available and legal to own as long as there is no intent to use them for criminal purposes.
This refers to a hard plate or pins in a High Security lock that will prevent the cylinder core from being breached by a drill bit. Regular locks are made of brass and can be drilled out easily as a by-pass method. Abloy High-Security locks, for example, have a stainless steel drill plate at the front of the cylinder.
This is usually the code stamped on the head of the key, and in some cases, as with most office furniture, it is stamped on the face of the cylinder. This is a blind code that is used in conjunction with software to obtain the key cuts and proper key blank to make a key from scratch for the lock. Not all numbers on the head of the key are key codes. In many cases, they refer to the actual key bitting (key cuts). Or in some cases, it is referred to as a Master Key System for ease in ordering new keys and to reference what lock key is used.
Key control is only available with a High-Security Locking System. Whereas the keys are patent protected from duplication. The locksmith in control of these keys is the only one that can produce these keys under the terms of the contract with the High-Security Lock manufacturer.
If you’re looking for commercial and residential locksmiths in the GTA and surrounding areas, reach out to Maximum Lock & Safe. We are focused on listening to our clients’ needs and providing them with the perfect solution. Our technicians offer locksmithing and door services, including customized security master key systems, automatic door service and installations, hardware installations, new doors, card access systems, electrified door hardware, and camera systems.