I have a safe without
the combination - how do I open it?
Either throw the safe away,
or pay a safe expert to open it, if anyone could get a quick
and easy way to open your safe just by sending an e-mail, your safe wouldn't
be worth much.
Should I bother with
high security ("pick proof") locks and other security
enhancements for my home?
Why not? If you are installing
locks, the better quality ones are not much more expensive, and are physically
more secure (e.g., have hardened inserts to protect against drilling.)
However, note that protection against picking doesn't
add a large amount to your security since burglars almost always go the
brute force route. Regardless, you should have a deadbolt, and check your
An excellent project is to do a security survey of your own premises.
Look at the entire problem - consider lighting and visibility, as well
as the locks, doors and windows. Ask your insurance agent, you may be
eligible for a premium reduction if you make a few changes in your home
such as a) adding deadbolt locks, and b) installing smoke detectors and
What is a code?
Ever see a lock on a desk,
filling cabinet, or a key with a number stamped on it like FR332, 2H5212,
or 61624? Those
are called codes. They tell locksmiths exactly how to cut a key to fit
the lock. There are three types of codes.
There are direct digit
codes. Each digit corresponds to each cut on the key, the value of each
digit tell how deep to make the cut. Schlage prints the code for the key
directly on the key. These codes are usually long, each pin needs its
The second type in which
each digit does not directly correspond to the depth, but there is a pattern
between the code and the key. Often mathematical tricks are used (for
example you must subtract 435 from the code, then cut the key).
The last type require a
locksmith to have a codebook. There is no pattern to the cuts on the keys.
The Reed Codebooks are one of the most common. There are 14 general volumes
(cars, cabinet, suit cases, door locks) and 5 padlock volumes. Each volume
is about 600 pages long. Several manufactures now selling computer programs
that contain all
A key that has not yet been cut to fit a lock.
A removable cylinder and plug, used in a interchangeable core system.
(sometimes control key)
A key which is used to remove a core.
The part of the lock in which the the pins are set and which contains
The notches cut in the key to make it fit a lock.
follower (plug follower). This is a cylindrical object of the same outer
diameter as the plug (there are various diameters, often about 1/2")
which is used to push out or follow the plug when the plug is to be removed.
This retains the top pins and
in the lock body.
(short answer) The slot into which the key is inserted.
(long answer) Refers to (a) the size and shape of the (cross-section
of the) key, and (b) the opening in the lock
which is shaped to admit the key and to keep out most keys of different
sizes and shapes. Whether the keyway
can be patented by the lock manufacturer as a way to prevent others
from manufacturing compatible key blanks
and therefore to restrict access is open to dispute. Recent court
cases make it doubtful that the simple design is
patentable, but a keyway design which is involved in the patented method
of operation of a lock may have patent
A key which opens a group of locks designed to match it.
The pins in the lock which are moved to the shear line by the key.
the tubular hole in which pins and a spring stay.
The part of the lock which the key is inserted and is rotated by the key.
A lock part located at the 'side' of the plug and fitting into longitudinal
grooves in both the plug and the lock body. This keeps the plug from turning
until the sidebar is retracted into the plug. Retraction is blocked until
the correct key (or picking) moves the pins or other tumblers to positions
which cease to block the retraction or
produce some other action allowing the retraction. A sidebar can add additional
positioning beyond the usual "shear line" and so can make picking
more difficult. A number of locks use a sidebar to increase security.
GM's Vehicle Anti-Theft System which uses a resistor in the key shank
in addition to the cuts on the key. wafer tumbler
Used in locks which are less expensive than pin tumbler locks. They behave
warded lock A lock using wards to keep an incorrect key from entering
the key hole and turning.