See You In 2019!

What a great year 2018 has been for this website and this project! Around this time last year we were still very much tinkering with the website trying to figure out the best way to materialize our vision. As I look at it now, I can’t believe what we’ve done in such a short amount of time. I can’t believe what we’re working on behind the scenes, either – I didn’t think we’d have the technical capabilities of pulling some of it off (not this quickly at least!).
Nevertheless, we’re going to take a much needed/deserved break for the remainder of the year to tie up some loose ends and get fully prepared for 2019. We’ll be taking a short break from posting updates to the front page of the website and will return to business as usual on Thursday, January 3rd.
On behalf of everyone involved with, I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (and a profitable one at that!). We will see you in 2019!

By |2018-12-13T09:00:02+00:00December 13th, 2018|All|0 Comments

Mortise Lock Library Update

We have updated our Mortise Lock Library page to match our new Library format.

List of Manufacturers

We now have 44 manufacturers listed with a link for each that points to their respective mortise lock page, when available, under the “List of Manufacturers” tab.


Under the “Resources” tab we have links to onsite literature, such as an ANSI/BHMA function reference chart, our Exploded Views – Mortise Lock Tool. We also have links to a Jake Jakubiwski book review and an article on servicing Best’s 45H/47H mortise locks. Also under the “Resources” tab are links to over a dozen YouTube videos covering mortise locks.

Manufacturer’s Literature and Manuals

Under the “Manufacturer’s Literature and Manuals” tab we currently have over 60 files representing 16 manufacturers.

By |2018-12-10T09:00:29+00:00December 10th, 2018|All, Library Update, Mortise|0 Comments

Library Update, Update


As we near the end of 2018 and close in on our first year as a website/project, we’re still learning and trying to improve. One of our first areas on this website was our Library. The purpose of the Library was to be a definitive collection of resources relating to the trade. Things like installation instructions and service manuals, catalogs, and templates. The purpose was that one day, rather than Googling or searching out a particular item or resource, you could navigate to the Library and find what you’re looking for in 3 clicks or less. Whether you were in front of a computer in your shop or your smart phone in your truck, you would know exactly where to go to find exactly what you need. We’re still a long way away from this but we’re making progress.


We currently have over 1300 files within the Library (and that’s probably only going to represent less than 1% of the Library when all is said and done). As we’ve uploaded files and links to resources, we’ve learned that our initial approach/layout wasn’t as efficient as it could be. If you have hundreds of manufacturer files listed for a specific topic, such as Intercom or Monitoring Stations, it can be hard to navigate without a bit of scrolling and careful reading. It can be done better, so that’s what we’re doing.

Library Updates

The structure of the Library will remain the same but changes are coming to the pages that compromise the Library.

List of Manufacturers

This tab will largely remain the same. This tab is a List of Manufacturers that sell products related to a given topic. If, for example, you wanted to know who manufactured mortise locks, such as searching for an alternative brand or sourcing an existing one, this is the tab you would jump to. Hyperlinks will be included that point to the page of a manufacturer’s website that covers the topic at hand. This will allow you to quickly navigate to their area to find a document that we haven’t uploaded yet or maybe aren’t able to.


The Resources tab will start containing more information. We’ve learned that a large number of locksmiths prefer visual learning, specifically YouTube videos. Going forward, we’re going to compile lists of YouTube videos links that relate to a given topic. We will also continue to index posts and organic content.

The “New” Resources tab.

Manufacturer’s Literature and Manuals

The Manufacturer’s Literature and Manuals tab is getting our biggest makeover.

  1. We’re going to start including a manufacturer’s name at the top of the tab if their literature and/or manuals can be found below. This should save you scrolling time until the Library is fully populated.
  2. Each manufacturer’s name will contain a hyperlink to their website. If you needed to access their website to find a document that we do not have, it’s as simple as one click versus opening a new tab or window and typing in the URL or searching for it.
  3. Under each manufacturer’s name, their literature and manuals will be broken down into 3 categories:
    1. Catalogs and Promotional Materials: Things such as catalogs and data and cut sheets.
    2. Instructions and Manuals: This is where you find installation instructions and service manuals
    3. Templates: Available installation templates will be found here.

The goal for these changes, like all others, is to make the process for seeking out information related to a specific area as painless as possible.

The “new” Manufacturer’s Literature and Manuals tab.

Future Library Additions

Our goal has always been to “finish up” what was already in place before moving forward and a fair number of sections of the Library are still incomplete. We plan to finish updating those sections in the next few months prior to our 1 year anniversary. But we’re not done. We have expansion plans.
Throughout 2019, we plan to add the following sections to the Library:

  • Automotive
    • Locks
    • Programming and Cloning Tools
  • Door Hardware
    • Astragals and Guards
    • Bolts
    • Door Coordinators
    • Door and Cabinet Pulls
    • Dummy Trim
    • Hinges
    • Holders and Stops
    • Pivots
    • Plates
    • Push/Pull Latches and Trim
    • Specialty Door and Cabinet Trim
    • Specialty Latches and Strikes
    • Sweeps, Seals, Thresholds, and Weatherstripping
  • Exit Devices
    • Concealed Rod
    • Mortise
    • Rim
    • Vertical Rod

We will add “Hybrid Cylinders” to the “Locks” section and “Power Transfers” to the “Access Control” section as well.

Moving Forward

It’s a learning process but we’re getting there. We’ve gotten plenty of feedback and paid careful attention to website metrics, specifically search strings, to refine what we have and make things better for site visitors. We just ask for your patience going forward – there aren’t blueprints available for most of what we do on here. We’ve gotten some things right, some things wrong, but we’re still moving forward.
If you like what you’ve seen so far, wait until 2019 – you ain’t seen nothing yet.

By |2018-12-06T09:00:53+00:00December 6th, 2018|All, Library Update|0 Comments

Using TMK Registers


TMK abb. top master key
Top Master Key n. the highest level master key in a master key system

In Fundamentals of Master Keying, Jerome Andrews brings up the following point:

As you write a new TMK, how do you know that you haven’t already used it for some other job, perhaps very close to the one your (sic) doing now? How do you know that you are picking a new number, and not just remembering one from a system you worked on recently?

Potential TMK Problems

Jerome makes a very valid point. It’s not so much that you may actually re-use a TMK bitting, although that certainly is a possibility, but that a lower level key’s bitting might mirror it, or vice versa. If that were the case, or even if the keys parity patterns were the same, incidental master keys could be present between your systems.

parity pattern n. the collective description of the parities of a group of bitting positions in a two step progression, typically expressed in an even/odd sequence, e.g. EOOEEO
incidental master key n. a key cut to an unplanned shear line created when the cylinder is combinated to the top master key and a change key

In other words, a change key for Acme Warehouse might operate a door or multiple doors at Widget Industries down the street if the locksmith building both master key systems weren’t careful. Remember, it’s not likelihood, it’s liability that matters. No matter how remote the possibility may be, why not take the necessary steps to eliminate it out right?
How do you eliminate the possibility? Jerome’s solution was a ‘TMK Register’. A TMK Register tracks information such as key sections and parity patterns used across the master key systems a locksmith services. It also tracks proprietary information such as file and register/registry numbers. Locksmiths query the TMK Register when building future master key systems to make sure they aren’t replicating a bitting/parity pattern across a particular key section. By doing this, the locksmith can rest assured that incidental master keys won’t exist between their systems.

Example of a TMK Register

Jerome gives an example of a TMK Register in Fundamentals of Master Keying. It includes columns for the following information:

  • Manufacturer
  • Key Section
  • TMK Bitting
  • Parity Pattern or Angles
  • Register #
  • Location (City)
  • File #
  • Details

Jerome also included a “Legend” at the bottom of his example. This legend contains information unique to each system listed, such as use neuter bows, use original blanks only, or special authorization requirements. This legend helps provide special information as it relates to individual master key systems.

Constructing and Using A “New” TMK Register

Jerome’s example of a TMK Register is a good one and serves as the foundation of one I built. This TMK Register is available in Excel and PDF formats and is now available in our Pinning and Decoding Worksheets page under the newly constructed “Master Keying” tab.
The following columns are available for master key system information within this TMK Register:

  • Manufacturer
  • Key Section
  • Parity Pattern/Angles
  • TMK Bitting
  • Register #
  • File #
  • Notes

Manufacturer and Key Section

At the top of the TMK Register, there are labels for Manufacturer and Key Section. These labels are also present in the first two columns. Why the redundancy? The TMK Register example in Fundamentals of Master Keying groups all master key systems together in one list. If you only have a handful of systems, one list may be all you need. Once you go beyond that, however, it could become difficult to navigate or keep in order, especially if you’re handwriting the entries.
By giving a locksmith the option of listing, and thereby sorting, a TMK Register by a particular manufacturer and key section, the locksmith can choose how he/she wishes to organize their systems. If a locksmith wants the all of their systems on a single page, they can ignore the top labels. If they wish to sort by manufacturer and key section, they can ignore the first two columns.

TMK Bitting

This is very self-explanatory. This column is for the TMK bittings only.

Parity Pattern/Angles

There are 16 rows available for master key system entries. Assuming even-odd parity only, a 5 pin blank has 32 possible parity patterns (2^5), a 6 pin blank has 64 (2^6). This means to fully generate a parity pattern for a key section using even-odd parity you need only 2 to 4 pages, depending on the blank type. Even-odd parity isn’t the only parity pattern to you though. You could also list angles, such as for Medeco, or even polarity, such as for MIWA.

Register and File #

The “Register #” column is for the reference number that you typically assign to an entire master key system. You may not use a Register # at your shop or you may call it something else. Whatever the case, you can either remove this column or choose to ignore it.
The “File #” is for your storing/sorting systems. Maybe you label systems by account number, customer name, etc. Whatever the case, the “File #” column is to help you determine where to locate the master key file associated with a particular TMK Bitting.


I’ve included a “Notes” column and a “Notes” section at the bottom. This allows a locksmith to create his/her own legend, abbreviations, symbols, etc. The “Notes” section at the bottom contains 8 lines for text which, hopefully, is enough room to cover any necessary information as it relates to the 16 master key systems on the same page.


Here is an example of the TMK Register being utilized with all master key systems:

And here is one restricted to manufacturer and key section:

As you can see, you can build out every possible parity pattern using this approach and then input TMK bitting/systems as you use them.


Obviously a TMK Register is a highly sensitive document. As such, Jerome notes that this document should be highly secured and basic security perimeters should be followed. For example, the TMK Register should not be stored in a desk drawer or on an unlocked computer’s desktop. If printed, the TMK Register should be stored in a safe or vault on site. If digital, the file should password protected and encrypted.
Furthermore, the file itself should not include customer name and addresses. In the event that the TMK Registry were stolen it’s information should be as nondescript as possible. If you really wanted to protect a TMK Register, in addition to the recommendations previously made, you could implement a cipher to further encrypt the information. The late Don O’Shall wrote an excellent book on the subject called “Cryptography for Locksmiths” if you are inclined to go this route.

Alterations and Alternatives

We have made the document available in the Excel format which means that you can add to, remove from, and change any information you wish to suite your needs. This TMK Register is simply a guide of what myself and others use. It’s not a “one size fits all” solution, however, so feel free to craft it to your needs.
If you use software for master keying, your software may already have a TMK Register function of sorts. The newest version of MasterKing, for example, allows a TMK search. Is this analogous? To some perhaps, but not me. I believe that no matter how you create master key systems a TMK Register, when properly utilized and secured, is an effective and worthwhile supplement.

By |2018-12-04T09:00:50+00:00December 4th, 2018|All, Cores and Cylinders, Master Keying|0 Comments

Events Update: 2019 Classes, Conventions, and Expos Added

With 2019 just around the corner, we have started adding more classes, conventions, and expos. to our Events page. Dates, locations, and event pages have been added for IML’s Security Expo in the following areas:

  • Seattle, Washington (Jan. 30 – Feb. 1)
  • Universal City, California (Mar. 6 – 8)
  • Denver, Colorado (Jun. 19 – 21)
  • San Antonio, Texas (Aug. 21 – 23)
  • Las Vegas, Nevada (Nov. 5 – 7)

We have also added these “big player” events listed with dates, locations, and event pages as well:

  • SAFETECH 2019 Convention and Tradeshow – Lexington, Kentucky (Apr. 1 – 6)
  • DEF CON 27 – Las Vegas, Nevada (Aug. 8 – 11)
  • 2019 ALOA Convention and Security Expo – Las Vegas, Nevada (Aug. 11 – 17)

Our goal with the Events page has always been to track and share every industry related event in the United States. We’re not quite there yet but we’re taking a step forward in 2019 by including more local/state association-sponsored events. We have listed two such events for 2019:

  • 2019 NCLA Regional Security Trade Show – Hickory, North Carolina (Feb. 9)
  • 8th Annual Alabama Locksmith Association Technical Show – Pelham, Alabama (Mar. 15 – 17)

As we transition into 2019, more manufacturers, distributors, and associations will release their event plans for the year. When that information is available, we will make sure to update our Events page. Stay tuned!

By |2018-11-29T09:00:38+00:00November 29th, 2018|All, Events Update|1 Comment

One Page SFIC Pinning Chart

We’ve recently added a new pinning worksheet to the Pinning and Decoding Worksheets page in the Tools section. Under the SFIC tab, you will find two files named “One Page SFIC Pinning Chart”. This chart allows you to put together the entire pinning chart for a 7 pin SFIC master key system on a single page. Sounds too good to be true? It isn’t.

How it Works

This sort of pinning chart has been around for many decades but I’ve never seen it in a digital format. We sought to change that by making available in PDF and Excel formats.
To generate this pinning chart, you simply have to input your TMK and Control key bitting information. From there, you list your 4 progressives for each chamber and then use accepted SFIC formulas to determine your pin segments. Once fully generated, you move from box to box, matching the change key bittings, to successfully pin a core.
Let’s do a walk through to illustrate how it’s done. Here is a simple system I have put together:

As you can see, I have listed all possible progressives (green) for the TMK bitting (blue). Each box for each progressive contains the bottom, master, and build-up pins. Since all possible progressives will share the same top pin, the appropriate top pin is listed above each chamber’s column. With this chart completed, I just have to find the appropriate bitting for the appropriate chamber to determine my appropriate pinning. For example, if I need to pin a core to a change key bitting 1-4-7-7-5-8-1, I simply have to navigate as follows:
In the first chamber, I find the box for the 1 bitting and pin according to it. For the second chamber, I find the box for the 4 bitting and pin according to it. This goes on until I have pinned all 7 chambers. It’s that simple.
We have color coordinated specific areas of the Excel file to make it easier to navigated. Control key bittings are displayed in red, TMK bittings in blue, and progressive bittings as green. Additionally, we have included an area at the bottom of the page to keep constant pin stacks separate from progressed pin stacks to avoid any confusion.


There are few, powerful benefits. As stated earlier, you can generate an entire pinning chart for an entire system, save for special circumstances, on a single page. This allows you to save tremendous space in your truck and/or master key file(s). Second, it saves on time. If you generate this entire pinning chart immediately after creating the master key system, it’ll be the only time you’ll ever need to create a pinning chart for that system, again, save for special circumstances.

By |2018-11-26T08:00:13+00:00November 26th, 2018|All, Cores and Cylinders, Tools Update|0 Comments

Inside U-Change Cylinders

The following article was written by Gordon, a locksport enthusiast from Arizona. 
Note: I frequently come across people who still think this lock is the same internally as a Kwikset SmartKey.  Let me be clear on this from the start – internally, the U-Change is nothing at all like a SmartKey. Yes, the front of the cylinder looks similar (except for the size of the plug), but that is it.


You may have seen the U-Change locks around on businesses. Yes, they look very similar to the SmartKey.

They even have a rekey hole in the same place:

But there is where the similarity ends. The mortise cylinder itself is the same size as a standard mortise cylinder. But the diameter of the plug is very different. As in a plug diameter of 19 mm (3/4″).

Now look from the rear of the cylinder. Yeah, big difference from normal size. If you, as many of us do, notice locks as you walk around, the plug diameter of the U-Change should catch your attention.

OK, enough size comparison. The back of each U-Change lock cylinder will have a unique serial number. This number is kept by the company, and from what I hear, they will only send keys to the registered purchaser of the lock. Blanks are not available. They will only send cut keys.

Rekeying Process

To demonstrate the way a U-Change is rekeyed, will use the factory reset tool, a factory key (all U-Change locks come from the manufacturer with the same key bitting and the key stamped FACTORY) and a spare key that has different bitting.

It should be noted that the U-Change rekey tool is longer than the Kwikset rekey tool.

Put the key stamped FACTORY in the lock.

Turn it roughly 90 degrees clockwise. The rekey tool hole will be slightly to the right of straight up pointing to the edge of the C in Oklahoma City.

One quick note, Insert the key change tool in the hole fully.

When the tool is fully inserted, then the key can be removed from the cylinder.

Insert the new key.

Remove the rekey tool.

Turn the key back to the locked position. Congratulations! You have now rekeyed the lock.
If you would prefer to see an active demonstration, Security Solutions (manufacturer’s of the U-Change cylinder) has a video of the process:

How U-Change Cylinders Work

There will probably never be a need to ever disassemble/reassemble a cylinder in the field, in fact, in the normal course of business this cylinder should not be disassembled. With that said, if you are curious as to how they work, I will explain.
There is a metal strip along the top of the pin chambers. I am taking it off only to show all the parts. A 19mm (3/4″) plug follower could be used for disassembly instead.

Yeah, nice fit on the springs. Wouldn’t you agree?  There is a reason for the large hole.

The tops of the driver pins are hollowed out, allowing the springs to fit (very loosely) inside.

OK, one more size comparison. U-Change driver pin on the bottom, normal driver pin found in most pin tumbler locks around the world above. The normal pin tumbler driver pin would fit very nicely in the hollow space in the top of the U-Change driver pin.

You will notice that even though the driver springs and driver pins come out the top of the cylinder, the key pins won’t.

To find out why, you need to remove the plug from the cylinder.

The plug rotated slightly.

Here you can see rockers that will need to be removed. The purpose of these will be explained very soon.

Close up of the rockers.

Now you can see the key pin assemblies (yes, assemblies) hiding behind the rockers.

Removing one of the key pin assemblies.

Aligned the same way you saw it in the plug.

And rotated 90 degrees, here is where things start looking funky.

Removing the rest of the key pin assemblies.

Aligned as they would be with the key.

Alright the four parts of the key pin assembly. All 5 key pins have identical parts.
First, the T-Pins:

The upper key pin:

The lower key pin:

And the fourth part. Well, you can’t see it yet. So, use something to grip the top and bottom of the T-Pin. Watch closely.

Pulling out the T-Pin:

Look at the last two pictures. Something seem missing in the second picture? Took the second picture that way intentionally, as a warning. You see, the lower key pin…

… does not fit loosely in the upper key pin. There is a strong spring between them, and the T-Pin keeps them assembled.

When taking apart my first U-Change lock, I wanted to take apart the key pin assembly, so I could see how it worked. The key pin assemblies have springs inside them, and they can launch the top part of the key pin assembly a loooooong way. I can assure you that those top parts of the key pin assemblies can play a really, really, really, good game of hide-and-seek. Luckily, we have tile in most of our house, or never would have found it. As it was, it went from the living room, down the hall, and into the front of one of the bathrooms. I’d estimate it traveled 15 meters from where it launched. Found the spring about 2 meters from where it launched. I spent an hour pulling off couch cushions and moving furniture around before I worked my way down the hall with a flashlight held near the floor to highlight anything on the floor, but I did find the key pin part.
So, I recommend that if you want to take apart the key pin assemblies from a U-Change, do it inside a small bag.
Here are the four parts of the key pin assembly:

Now if you look closely at the T-Pin, you can see the end is narrower than the main part of the shaft:

And there are four grooves on the lower key pin shaft:

The upper part of the key pin is hollow:

With a hole in the side for the T-Pin to fit:

The four grooves in the lower key pin are for the four bitting depths on a U-Change. The T-Pin narrow end fits into the groove of the respective bitting depth:

To assemble the key pin assembly, put the spring in the upper key pin.

Push the lower key pin into the upper key pin, compressing the spring. Hold it firmly. Trust me. Hold it firmly.

Put the T-Pin into place, aligning it with the lower key pin grooves:


The rocker (remember that, from waaay up near the top of the post?) is there so the T-Pins cannot be removed far enough to cause the key pin assemblies to come apart inside the lock when rekeying.

Looking at the plug before reassembly, you see a groove down the side where the rekey tool will fit:

The same groove seen from the back of the plug shows better where it is. The narrower part is for the tool, the wider part is for the rockers and T-Pins:

A couple of pics showing the tool in the groove:

Why don’t I show a picture of the key pins being disengaged for rekeying with the tool? Remember my warning about being careful when disassembling the key pins? Yeah. That is why.
Here is the plug with the key pins in place:

And the key pins aligned with the top of the plug when the correct key is inserted:

The tool would align like this when rekeying:

The rockers, when not rekeying, are in this position:

When being rekeyed, they lift up like so:

They are still pinned in place by the shell of the lock, but will allow the T-Pins to lift just enough to disengage the lower key pin from the upper key pin, but not come apart.

By |2018-11-19T09:00:41+00:00November 19th, 2018|All, Cores and Cylinders|0 Comments

Door Operators Library Update

We’ve recently updated our Door Operators page in the Library. In the ‘Manufacturer’s Literature and Manuals’ tab, new documents have been added for the following manufacturers:

  • Arrow Lock & Door Hardware
  • CDVI Americas
  • Detex Corporation
  • DORMA Americas
  • Falcon
  • Hager Companies
  • LCN
  • Norton Door Controls
  • Power Access Corporation
  • Rixson Specialty Door Controls
  • Security Door Controls

If you are a visual learner, we have two great links in the ‘Resources’ tab. First, we have a link to Norton’s video library. Second, we have a link to video by Wayne Winton detailing a field installation of a Norton ADAEZ/5800 Door Operator.

By |2018-11-15T09:00:37+00:00November 15th, 2018|All, Door Closers, Door Operators|0 Comments
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