Because door locks are used so regularly we tend not to think of them as anything special.
That is until we are locked out of our home or car. The lock inside an average door is much more complicated than one you might expect.
Although there may be slight differences between different brands, the basic manufacture of a lock contains three primary parts that make them work – the lock body, the deadbolt, and a series of spring loaded pins.
Understanding the function of these parts will help you understand how a skeleton key can be used to open most locks.
Types of Locks
In short, there are two types of locks – mechanical and electronic locks.
The basic anatomy of both these locks is similar despite the fact that electronic locks are more advanced.
Most residential homes, small buildings, and spaces like libraries and schools have mechanical key-and-knob locks.
Electronic locks make use of small motorised, electric components that operate alongside mechanical lock parts and have become quite popular with homeowners and businesses alike.
The widespread adoption of smart technology has made electronic locks more advanced and today a voice sample on a smartphone can open a door instead of a key.
The Components of a Door Lock
A door lock consists of internal and external components.
The external components interact with the internal locking mechanism and are used to operate the door and the internal components consist of the lock assembly that secures the door and allows it to be opened with a key.
The door handle or knob is the external component while the internal components are hidden behind the key slot.
The internal components of a traditional mechanical lock will always have a deadbolt or spring lock secured with a strike plate or box.
The bolts or latches inside the lock are retracted or extended by the lock’s mechanism.
The core of the door lock is the lock cylinder or lock body which turns to engage and disengage the latch or bolt when the key is turned.
A series of spring-loaded pins allow or stop the turning of the lock body.
Each lock body has a unique combination of pins that match the grooves on the appropriate key and that turn the lock when pushed.
How Does a Skeleton Key Work?
The shape of a skeleton key has a round head and a long thin body with key parts at the bottom.
They can only open locks with levers or certain types of warded locks.
Lock manufacturers started to add wards to the centre and outside of their locks to prevent the use of skeleton keys to gain illegal entry.
These old types of skeleton keys are no longer in use other than for certain antique cabinets.
When used to open lever type locks, skeleton keys are typically known as ‘master keys’.
Lever-type locks have a combination of levers and wards that only match with the sides of an appropriate key.
The top of the key is used to push the levers to a height that will allow the key to pass through the lock. Rotating the key engages the levers and opens the lock.
Master keys can be used on locking systems with levers that are all on equal heights but with different sets of wards for each lock.
A master key for this system has no warded section and opens the lock by means of levers only.
Master keys are mostly used by locksmiths and businesses with multiple offices or hotels with a large number of lockable doors.
Having a skeleton key for a home can be useful as it can help gain access until a replacement key can be found or a locksmith called to have the entire lock replaced.
If you need a residential locksmith specialist or an automotive locksmith, make sure you contact Solid Lock Locksmith where you will get a master locksmith.
We have decades of experience operating in Melbourne and have a well-earned reputation for getting the job done properly and swiftly.