locks and locksmiths

History

From the beginning of humankind, people have felt the urge to protect what they possess. They start by covering their caves’ entrance with stones; later, they hid their gold and jewels in the ground.

Then they discovered locks. These were first made of wood and rope. They served the purpose well, although they were not so nicely designed. There is a lot of historical proof that certifies the use of locks long before we could imagine. Even in the Bible (Old Testament, Books of Judges), we frequently mention locks and keys.

Types

In modern society, we have keys and locks for everything: the house, the office, the car, the bike. We even have more than one key for the same building; keys and locks are so much a part of our daily routine that we don’t consider them (or maybe we do that only when the ring of keys is too heavy placed in our pockets).

But we do give a lot of thought when we have to pick the type of lock or key type. Basically, we are talking about mechanical locks (based on mechanical activation of the keys), electro-mechanical locks (can be both mechanical or electrical activated, but usually the key is replaced with numbered buttons that have to be pressed) and electrical locks (activated by a card key that has a particular code, programmed to be read by a card reader which is controlled by an automated central or a local processor).

How to pick the lock?

It is not as complicated as we think, but also not as easy as it appears in many movies. Some say that this requires both art and science. We have to have a good knowledge of the lock mechanism and some practice.

Firstly we insert a tension wrench in the lock (a screwdriver, for example) and, with slight pressure, turn the plug (the lock cylinder) like the proper key would have done (we have to figure out what is the normal direction for the key to be turned). It will help create a small place between the lock pins (placed inside the lock). We have to insert a lock pick to lift them (like the proper key will do when inserted in the lock). Doing this and applying pressure on the tension wrench will hear a slight click (made by the pins when they fall in the right position), and the lock will be unlocked.

For unsophisticated locks, we can use a metal hairpin as a lock pick. But professional locksmiths need an adequate pick tools kit. Basically, this contains a tension wrench (they have different shapes and sizes) and several picks(long pieces of metal curved up at one end). Some can use an electrical pick gun (contains long metal pieces, and when they vibrate, push the pins up and unlock the lock).

Rekeying lock

The rekeying process is quite simple (it takes a couple of minutes), and it shouldn’t be confused with replacing a lock. Actually, it consists of disassembling the lock cylinder and replacing all the old lock pins with new ones to match the new key. Then the cylinder is reinstalled in the lock!

When a family member loses the house key, we can assume that a burglar has it. We should start immediately re-key the house lock to prevent potential theft. It doesn’t cost a lot of time and money, but it can spare us big stress. The same procedure is advisable when moving into a new house/apartment.

The better the lock is, the harder it will be for a burglar to break in!