What’s Behind Your Locked Door?

Locked Door in California

Whenever you open locked doors, you probably don’t stop to wonder what’s behind the lock. You may already know what’s behind the door itself, but what’s behind the lock? That is, what makes the lock work? Understanding the way certain basic types of locks work can be helpful when selecting the best locking options for your home or office security needs.

Although today they are reserved mostly for furniture locks or decorative functions, warded locks were once a very common lock type. Warded locks are the kind most often featured in film and art – they’re what you think of when you picture a typical old-fashioned key. A warded key will only be able to turn all the way in the proper lock for which it is made. Otherwise, key stops – or “wards”— will prevent the key from depressing the lever necessary for opening the latch. However, the wards can easily be bypassed by a skeleton key, which directly depresses the proper lever. As a result, warded locks have generally been replaced by more secure pin-and-tumbler locks which are more resistant to picking.Ask your local Locksmith in San Jose for more information.

In this day and age, when you open locked doors, you’ll most commonly encounter pin-and-tumbler locks. Pin-and-tumbler locks can be opened using fairly ubiquitous keys with a series of notches carved in the side. When the key is inserted into the lock, it depresses spring-loaded pins of varying lengths until they become properly aligned along a “shear line.” When the pins are in alignment, they allow the lock cylinder to rotate in order to open the lock. If you insert the wrong key into a pin-and-tumbler lock, the pins will not line up along the shear line and the door will not open. Although it is possible to pick a pin-and-tumbler lock, they are more resistant to tampering than their predecessors, warded locks.

The primary types of pin-and-tumbler locks that you’ll run into in your daily life are spring-bolt locks and deadbolt locks. Spring-bolt locks are the kind that you might commonly see on a door knob. The bolt of a spring-bolt lock is wedge-shaped and – as the name implies – contains a spring. The wedge shape allows you to push the door shut without inserting a key to retract the bolt. The spring allows the bolt to extend automatically so that the door will stay shut. In some cases, spring-bolt locks will also automatically lock behind you. Spring-bolt locks are convenient to use because they eliminate the need to insert the key to close the door. However, because many spring-bolt locks automatically lock it is often easier to lock yourself out accidentally with a spring-bolt lock than with a deadbolt lock.

In a deadbolt, the bolt itself is flat instead of being wedge-shaped and it does not contain a spring. As a result, deadbolt locks cannot be forced open as easily spring-bolt locks can. Like spring-bolt locks, though, deadbolts come in both one-cylinder and two-cylinder designs. The former has a keyhole only on one side of the door, while the latter has keyholes on both sides. Commonly, when you open locked doors, they will use a dead bolt in combination with a spring-bolt lock.

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