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How Door Locks Work

Pin & Tumbler Locking Mechanism
Side Locking Bar Mechanism
Tubular Locks
Rim Locks
Mortise Locks
Mechanical Locks
Electronic Locks

Pin & Tumbler Locking Mechanism
how locks work- cylinder

The common pin-and-tumbler locking mechanism has a series of spring-loaded pins, which are loaded into a series of small cylinders. Each cylinder has a bottom part, called a pin, and a top part, called a driver. Upon insertion of the key, the springs will be compressed as the key lifts the pin, pushing the driver into the upper chambers of the cylinder.

When the correct key is in the lock, the bottom and top pins align the space between them around a track similar to a ward, which is called the shear line.

When all of the pins and drivers are aligned to clear the way for the shear line, the key will turn. When the key is not in the lock, the pins should be at rest in the chamber, with the bottom pin in the key chamber and the top part of the pin resting on top of the bottom half due to the gentle pressure of the relaxed spring. An incorrect key will misalign one or more of the locking spring-loaded cylinders, blocking the key from turning by placing at least one of the pins or drivers in the way of the shear line.

Side-Locking Bar Mechanism
How Side Locking Bar Cylinder door Locks Work

The patented side-locking bar technology is a recent innovation from Kwikset. It is an improvement on the traditional pin and tumbler design, which is vulnerable to lock-bumping attacks. Lock bumping is an increasingly popular lock-picking technique in which an intruder would use a specially cut key to “bump” a lock open using skilled strikes to the key in the lock. Learn more about lock bumping.

Kwikset SmartKey deadbolts and locks feature the patented side-locking bar technology, which is also central to the SmartKey’s ability to be rapidly and easily re-keyed.

Additionally, the cylinder uses two steel balls inserted into the front of the key face to provide improved drill resistance.

Delivering outstanding strength and protection, SmartKey deadbolts and locks have passed the most stringent lock-picking standard.

Tubular Locks
How Tubular door Locks Work | Kwikset

The tubular lock is the most common type of locks. Most doors typically have bores specifically made for installing tubular locks. They are used mainly for interior doors for bedrooms, bathrooms, passages, and closets. Tubular locks are available with a key tumbler lock in the knob on the outside of the door or with a turn button or push button on the inside.

Rim Locks
Kwikset – How door Locks Work – Rim Lock

A rim lock is a locking device that attaches to the surface of a door, usually the inside surface.  A small latch is used to unlock the door from within. On the outside of the door there is usually a smaller sized rim with a keyhole.

Mortise Locks
Kwikset – How Mortise door Locks Work

A mortise lock is a type of lock that requires a pocket—the mortise—to be cut into the door into which the lock case is to be fitted. Mortise locks have two different locking devices built into the lock case: the latchbolt and the deadbolt.

Mechanical Locks
How Door Locks Work – Mechanical door Lock Diagram

Mechanical locks operate by means of one or more pieces of metal (tumblers, levers, or latches) falling into a slot in the bolt, preventing it from being moved. Most mechanical locks require the use of keys to open the lock. The proper key serrations that raise the metal pieces will allow the bolt to slide. Most locks are mechanical locks.

Electronic Locks
How Electronic Door Locks Work | Kwikset – SmartCode Technology

Electronic locks operate by means of electric current. Electronic locks are sometimes stand-alone with an electronic control assembly mounted directly to the lock, which allows access by a combination code or a key.

Kwikset SmartCode products offer the latest in electronic technology and are easy to install and use.  SmartCode operates on just 4 AA batteries and permits access with your personalized code (no more worrying about keys!). Available with our Home Connect technology, SmartCode locks can also be connected to security systems, home control systems, and accessed remotely through a mobile device or secured internet connection.