Locks are used everywhere in our daily lives to help protect and safeguard things like our possessions and our property. However, there are many different types of locks even though they’re based on the same fundamental principles. Understanding how a lock works is relatively simple and with knowledge of how a lock works, it could potentially help you save a lot of money in the future by assisting you in solving minor lock-related problems.
So in this article, we’re going to talk about the various parts of a lock and explain how they all fit together.
The Parts Of A Regular Lock
A regular lock is the traditional type of lock that you can find on almost every door. These are the locks that require a physical key and typically involve moving a bolt from the door into the frame in order to secure it. These are also known as Yale locks, deadlocks, Euro Locks or even Scandinavian Locks.
Main Body (Cylinder)
The main body of the lock is known as the cylinder. This is where the key is inserted and typically looks like a small slit with a couple of jagged edges. The unique shape of the key is paired with the lock itself, and this is just one of many different security mechanisms that ensure your key is unique to the lock.
When it’s locked, the cylinder engages several spring-loaded pins that keep it from turning. When the correct key is inserted into the cylinder, the shape of the key pushes the pins upwards to fit the grooves in the key. It recognizes the shape of the key when the pins are moved to the correct places. This then opens the cylinder and allows it to be turned, thus opening the door. This design is also known as the pin tumbler and is commonly used in cylinder-style locks.
If an incorrect key is used, then the pins will not match with the shear point (where the cylinder meets with the plug) which means the plug cannot rotate. However, if the correct key is used, then the plug is free to rotate and unlock the door.
If a new key is needed for a lock, then the cylinder itself can be re-keyed. This often requires a special tool that is inexpensive but does require knowledge on how to use it. This is a viable do-it-yourself option but if you only need to re-key a single door then contacting a locksmith is the preferred choice.
Bolt And Latch
Inside the lock is a piece of metal that extends from the door into the frame. This is what locks the door and keeps the lock secured. There are two different types that are used; spring bolts and deadbolts.
For spring bolts, a bolt is held in place by a spring clip. It’s compressed when the bolt is unlocked and when it’s released, the bolt snaps into a locked position. These types of locks will automatically lock the door when it’s closed.
The other main option is a deadbolt. These do not use spring-loaded mechanisms and can instead be locked or unlocked at any time. They can be secured using a key or simply just a knob on one side of the door. They’re often considered to be more secure because a guard bolt can be used to prevent tampering or picking.
Tubular Pin Tumbler Locks
Another type of pin tumbler lock is known as the tubular pin tumbler lock. It’s also often referred to as the radial lock or circle pin tumbler lock. These work on a similar principle of spring-loaded pins but instead of the key being inserted into a plug and the grooves pushing the pins into position, the tubular lock uses a set of pins in a circular pattern.
The pins are pushed towards the front of the lock which prevents the plug from rotating. The indentations on the key itself are pushed against these pins which releases the cylinder, allowing it to be turned like a traditional lock.
Box And Strike Plate
The bolt of the lock typically extends from within the door into the frame of the door or the adjacent wall. The bolt reaches a small square hole known as the box. This box is designed to hold the bolt in the doorframe whenever the lock is in use. This is to secure the door and to ensure that the bolt doesn’t extend too deep or too shallow.
The plate that attaches to the frame of the door is known as the strike plate. The purpose of the strike plate is to help guide the bolt from the cylinder to ensure it extends into the right place to secure the door. It also adds an extra bit of reinforcement to the entire lock mechanism which gives it added security and durability.
There are often different shapes and sizes for boxes and strike plates and it typically involves matching the bolt to the strike plate. While most strike plates are squared, some are rounded and may be incompatible with certain bolts or it could compromise the durability and security.
The humble lock has its origins in ancient Egypt where the basic principles of the now popular pin tumbler lock were first discovered. It was originally created using wood and worked similarly to how locks work in the modern day. It wasn’t until 1848 when the modern pin tumbler lock was invented, and the design is still in use today. Although locks have evolved over the decades, they still continue to function on fundamental principles regardless of the parts used to create them.If you’re having an issue with your lock or would like to learn more, feel free to contact us at Independent Lock for more information. Whether you need an expert locksmith to get back into your house or would like to replace your existing locks with something more secure, we’re more than happy to give you a helping hand.