Tyler's Take: Bench Testing For Locksmiths

If you already aren’t practicing “bench testing”, I would highly suggest that you start. A bench test, or bench testing, is defined as:
the critical evaluation of a new or repaired component, device, apparatus, etc, prior to installation to ensure that it is in perfect condition.
Perfect is overly subjective but I think we all get the point. Bench testing is trying out new parts to make sure everything is good before we get to the job site. Why would this be beneficial? It can potentially save time, money, and face. I think we’ve all ordered parts for a job, gone to the job site, and found out that something was defective with the new parts. I have at least and I’m not ashamed to admit that. So, we pack everything back up, maybe put the existing part(s) back together (if we got that far before discovering the defective item), explain the situation to the customer, and then start the RMA process. It’s not a fun situation and we should all take measures to prevent it. Bench testing is just that measure.
Bench testing is very, very popular with those who service and install access control systems. After the survey is complete and the quote has been approved, the parts are ordered and we await their arrival before scheduling the job. Upon receipt of the parts, and prior to scheduling, a fair number of companies will unpack each item and do a “mock assemble” to ensure that everything is working as it should be. Some may even take it upon them to begin setting up the software, or as much is as reasonably possible, while everything is connected. Whatever the case, they are bench testing the parts before they schedule and depart for the job. Time is money and we should all take measures to make sure we aren’t wasting it.
Bench testing isn’t just an access control thing, however, it can be applied to just about all parts. Ordering a few Simplex L1000s for stock? Check them in upon arrival and then inspect the locks, parts, and then test their function. Make sure everything is there and everything is behaving as it should be. New BEST 9K locks? Do the same. You don’t necessarily have to mount the locks to test them, a simple “in hand” test should be effective in spotting a large majority of defects. This same principle can be applied to exit devices, deadbolts, and even door closers. If it has a mechanical function, it can be tested prior to placing it on the shelf at the shop or in the truck en route to a job.
Another good benefit of bench testing is to make sure that the parts you receive are the parts they should be and/or they aren’t used. We recently received a large shipment of Simplex L1000s for stock. Upon checking them in we discovered one lock was obviously used. It had wear marks on it and the clutch assembly was actually bent. How that happened I do not know but imagine if we relied on that part for an emergency job? We’d tell the customer “We have the part, we’ll be there shortly!” and show up only to discover that we couldn’t solve the problem that trip. And maybe one of the distributors in town had another in stock but what about rare functions or finishes? They might not. Do you see what I’m getting at?
It’s not enough to just verify that the part number on the box matches your purchase order, you also need to verify that the items inside of the box match it and that they’re functioning as the manufacturer intended them to. If you already aren’t, start bench testing. It can save you a lot of time and a lot of trouble.

By |2018-03-29T09:00:39+00:00March 29th, 2018|All, Tyler's Take|1 Comment

Library Update: High Security

We’ve recently added more documents to our High Security page in the Library. In the Manufacturer’s Literature and Manual section, you can find the following:

ASSA High Security Locks

  • Catalog and Technical Manual
  • ASSA TWIN 6000 – Technical Service Manual

 BiLock North America, Inc.

  • Catalog
  • BiLock Exploded Illustration

Corbin Russwin, Inc.

  • Access 3 – Technical Manual

Kaba Ilco Corporation

  • Kaba Mechanical Lock Cylinders (Kaba GmbH)
  • Peaks Global – Technical Manual
  • Peaks Global and L10 – Catalog
  • Peaks Preferred and Classic – Technical Manual

Medeco Security Locks

  • Catalog (2018)
  • ARX – Manual
  • Medeco Original – Technical Service Manual

Mul-T-Lock USA, Inc.

  • Mul-T-Lock – Service Manual

SARGENT Manufacturing Company

  • Sargent/ASSA V-10 – Technical Service Manual
  • Sargent Degree – Technical Manual


  • Schlage Primus – Service Manual (2012)
  • Schlage Primus – Service Manual (2014)


  • KeyMark – Service Manual

In the Resources section, we have links to great write-ups on the Abloy Classic, Abloy Dislock/Exec, Abloy Protec, Abloy Special Products, ASSA Twin Systems, and Mul-T-Lock’s various platforms. We also have a comprehensive list of patented lock and key platforms which lists platform type, patent type, and patent expiration dates.

By |2018-03-27T09:00:26+00:00March 27th, 2018|All, High Security, Library Update, Locks|0 Comments

How Key Bitting Specifications Work

If you haven’t already, take a moment to stop by our Key Bitting Specifications page in the Tools section. For those new to locksmithing or for those that might not understand some of the abbreviations or information listed, I’m going to take a moment to cover each item by using one of the most popular keying systems in the United States: Schlage Classic.
Throughout this article I’m going to reference information as it’s organized in our key bitting specifications. Yes, we organize information in an arbitrary manner (one we think is the most conducive), but the information we include is the same information manufacturer’s use as well; that’s where we draw our information from, after all. Also, I’m not going to focus on items like key origination options or notes – that’s self-explanatory. Finally, I’m going to define terms using The LIST Council’s Professional Locksmith Dictionary. With that said, let’s cover the information left to right, top to bottom.

Schlage Classic key bitting specification.


What’s in a Key Bitting Specification?

Not all manufacturers list the same amount of information in each of their key bitting specifications. Some manufacturers choose to share more information than others. At the very least, we’ve found that spacing and root depth information is listed by all manufacturers. Schlage, on the other hand, leaves nothing to guess work; they list just about every relevant detail necessary for generating or decoding keys and/or pins of their keying systems. Regardless of availability, all manufacturer’s key bitting specifications include the following information:
MACS, or maximum adjacent cut specification, is the maximum allowable difference between adjacent cut depths. MACS essentially tells you which cuts are allowed to be next to each other. If your MACS is 7, for example, a 2 cut can be right next to a 9 cut because when subtracting their difference, 9-2=7, it is at or below the MACS of 7. If the adjacent cuts were 1 and 9, however, their difference would be 8, which would violate MACS and therefore would not possible. In the Schlage Classic keying system, the MACS is 7.
Increment is the distance between different, successive depths. If you look at the Root Depths, or the dimension from the bottom of a cut on a key to the bottom of the blade, you’ll notice that the measurements of different, successive depths increase or decrease, depending on the order in which you read it, by .015″. This .015″ difference is the increment for Schlage Classic.
Progression is defined as a logical sequence of selecting possible key bittings, usually in numerical order from the key bitting array. That might not make sense in our context but allow me to explain. Progression relates to master keying and can be represented as either “Single Step” or “Two Step”. Differences between cuts in progressed keys can either be 1 increment (Single Step) or 2 increments (Two Step), depending on the size of the increment. Due to tolerances and the potential for key interchange and even cylinder failure, progression must match the manufacturer’s specifications. For all intents and purposes, if the increment size is less than .023″ then it is considered a two step progression, if it is more than .023″ then it is considered single step progression. Using Schlage Classic, which is a two step progression, we cannot have a difference between cuts of 1 increment in the same chamber of a master keyed cylinder or the aforementioned risk of key interchange and cylinder failure will exist. Therefore, we must have two step, or 2 increment, progression for Schlage Classic.
E.P.D., or effective plug diameter, is the dimension obtained by adding the root depth of a key cut to the length of its corresponding bottom pin which establishes a perfect shear line. E.P.D. will not necessarily be the same as the actual plug diameter.
Included Angle is a measurement from one sloping surface of a cut to the opposite surface, typically stated in degrees. If you look at the geometry of key cuts you’ll see that they look very much like a valley. Each side of the valley is what the definition refers to as a “sloping surface”. The measurement between each sloping surface is our included angle. For Schlage Classic the included angle is 100 degrees.
Root Cut, not to be confused with the cut root, refers to the measurement of the bottom of the individual cut itself. It is also sometime referred to as cut flat. Key cuts may have different cut root shapes, or the shape of the bottom of the key cut (either flat or radium or even a perfect “V”), but the bottom of the cut will always have a measurable distance. In our example, the measurement of the bottom a cut in Schlage’s Classic key bitting specification is .031″.
Spacing is can refer to two things. First, T.F.C., or To First Cut, refers to the distance between the shoulder or tip, depending on if it’s tip-to-bow or bow-to-tip, to the center of key’s first cut. B.C.C., or Between Cut Centers, is the distance between the centers of adjacent cuts. If you have a LAB Universal Pin Kit both values can be found in each manufacturer’s box. In each case, we have the full spacing information for all key bitting specifications. That includes the T.F.C. measurement, the B.C.C. measurement, and each respective available spacing measurement possible.
Finally, we include all pin segments available for a respective key bitting specification. In the case of Schlage Classic that includes bottom, master, and top pins. In other examples, such as Corbin X Class (System 70), we include bottom and master pins for both available plug diameters as well as interchangeable core top pins and build-up pins. Whatever is available for a respective key bitting specification we include, and with the manufacturer’s verbiage.

How do we use a Key Bitting Specification?

As we say on the Key Bitting Specification page, you’re only limited by your imagination with ways to utilize and “translate” the information from key bitting specifications. The following tasks can be completed, or greatly assisted, with an accurate key bitting specification:

  • Key Generation
  • Key Decoding
  • Determining Keying Systems
  • Determining Applicable Blanks
  • Cylinder Pinning
  • Cylinder Decoding
  • Master Key and Master Key System Design

The Great Foley-Belsaw Scare

There was no small amount of hand-wringing several months ago when Foley-Belsaw announced the discontinuation of its locksmith correspondence course.  Several people proclaimed it was a sign of the end of locksmithing. And who can forget Gale Johnson’s Changes In the Wind?
If a company ceases to offer a correspondence course for a trade, does that mean the trade is over?  Well, years earlier Foley-Belsaw stopped offering a course on HVAC.  Anyone who has had to call, and pay for, an HVAC technician knows that they are both in demand and doing a brisk business.  Who knows why Foley-Belsaw dropped that course years ago, but it was not because of a lack of demand for HVAC technicians, and the HVAC industry did not seem to suffer for it going away. 
In my spare time, I sometimes enjoy reading old magazines like Popular Mechanics and Mechanix Illustrated.  The 1960s must have been the heyday of correspondence courses. There was page after page of correspondence course ads in magazines of that era.  And sure enough, there was Belsaw’s locksmith course (it was Belsaw before it was Foley-Belsaw), and there was also a course from the Locksmithing Institute.  But there were just as many ads, if not more, for courses to train to be a lawyer, an accountant, an engineer, a mechanic, an insurance investigator, an appliance repairman, or a meat cutter, just to name a few.  That there are few, if any, of those correspondence courses today does not mean that accountants, mechanics, and appliance repairmen are not still out there making a living. 
When the Locksmithing Institute went out of business in the early 1980’s, it did not coincide with a drop in the need for locksmiths.  If anything, that may have been a sort of golden age for locksmithing.  Scammers were unheard of.  Homeowners were still calling locksmiths to install deadbolt locks on their 1970’s homes to get the insurance discount.  Compared to these days, automotive locksmithing did not require much investment to get into.  And the Locksmithing Institute course material, said to have been created by locksmithing legend Leonard Singer, was actually pretty good.  So why did the Locksmithing Institute go under?  Who knows?  But it seemed to have little to do with the state of the industry. 
Saving up for a correspondence course, then working though it instead of spending time in front of the TV set every night, and then moving up in the world, is as American as apple pie and Chevrolet.  A sort of do-it-yourself American Dream. And for someone who wanted to go into locksmithing, the courses did give them the basics.  It would give them a head start in an apprenticeship, so long as they did not think they knew it all.  It might prepare them for residential locksmithing—if they could find enough work to make a living. 
So most of us probably have a soft spot in their heart for at least the idea of correspondence courses.  But times have changed.  There is only a fraction of the correspondence courses offered today that were offered fifty years ago, or even twenty years ago.  Perhaps the question should not be why has demand for locksmith correspondence courses dropped over the years, but rather, why is there still demand at all?  In the heyday of correspondence courses, there was a labor shortage in much of America.  It was also an era when people went to work for one company for life.  It was not a big deal to hire someone who showed promise by, for example, having completed a course related to the job, and then train them.  What would a year or two of training amount to, if that employee would likely be working at the same company for the next twenty or thirty years?  Those days are over.  It could be that correspondence courses never were all that amazing, but they did not need to be. 
Training courses for other trades, these days, tend to be short, in-person seminars, or they are over the web.  For technical subjects, web classes may include computer simulations where electricians can use a virtual volt meter to check out a virtual malfunctioning machine.  A person might program a CNC lathe on a simulator.  Or they might construct the ladder logic for a programmable logic controller to run an imaginary machine.  Great ideas, but it would take a lot of locksmithing students to justify someone programming that sort of thing, or at least contracting a programmer to do it for them.  That, and locksmithing is very much a hands-on skill anyway. 
Today, of all the trades out there, why do people think locksmithing can still be learned by correspondence courses?  Does anyone read through a binder of lessons, take some quizzes, then try to get a job as a carpenter?  Or a mechanic?  Perhaps it is because there are in-person training programs for those trades, while there simply are not enough locksmiths out there to justify either local union or community college programs.  Such programs, and anything close to them, for locksmiths can be counted on one hand with some fingers left over.  It may be a case that correspondence courses are not that great at teaching locksmithing either, but what else is there for someone not lucky enough to have a good apprenticeship?    
It turns out that someone bought the locksmithing program from Foley-Belsaw and they have just re-launched it, so to speak:  https://foleybelsawlocksmithing.com/
So anyone who thought that Foley-Belsaw going away was the end of the world can rest easy on that count.  But the question remains, is there a better way to learn locksmithing than by a correspondence course? 

By |2018-03-22T09:00:02+00:00March 22nd, 2018|All, Industry|1 Comment

Finding Locksmith Job Opportunities

The purpose of this article is to help individuals looking for employment as a locksmith. While referenced directly by our “How to Become A Locksmith” article, this information can be used by experienced locksmiths as well.
Finding job leads can be very hectic experience for some. The prospect of landing a new job is very exciting but the search process can be stressful. Fortunately, job seekers have more tools available at their disposal than ever before to assist with this process. I am going to recap various sources of job leads, be it online or in-person or even traditional methods, that I’ve found useful over the years along with either my own experience and/or opinion on them.

Online Sources


Indeed.com is by far my favorite. They currently boast an impressive 11.3+ million “I Got a Job!” stories. At the time of this writing, over 825,000 jobs have been added to the website in the previous 7 days. That’s A LOT of jobs! Best of all these jobs aren’t “white-collar” or “experienced” only. Skilled trades, such as locksmiths – apprentice or experienced, have their fair share of active job postings on Indeed.
Just how active? As of this writing there are 1,005 job postings on Indeed in the United States that have “locksmith” in either the job title or job description. Dozens of these jobs have “apprentice locksmith” as the job title, from Cary, NC to Lansing, MI, to Riverside, CA. Best of all, these jobs, and others, represent small business employers in addition to institutions and even some government positions. Occasionally you will see overseas contracts, especially for GSA work, if that is the type of employment you are seeking.
I have had great success using Indeed. I found an institutional locksmith job posting on the Indeed website back in 2014 and was hired about a month after my initial application.
If you are searching for a job, make Indeed your first stop. If you don’t find a job listing that suites your needs, simply leave your email (usually found in an “alert” box on the right menu on the “Results” page) and you’ll receive notifications of new job listings that match your search(es). Taking it a step further, you can actually upload your resume to the website to have potential employers find you – can’t beat that!


Glassdoor.com is very much like Indeed, albeit much smaller. I’ve found that as it relates to locksmithing jobs, Glassdoor tends have more government job opportunities listed than Indeed. Like Indeed, Glassdoor also allows you to receive job alerts on a particular search via email as well as upload a resume for potential employers to find you. Unlike Indeed, however, Glassdoor has employee reviews of employers. This can be a useful tool to evaluate potential employers.


If you aren’t already on LinkedIn then now is the time to start. It’s a tremendous networking tool. I have nearly 600 connections currently and about 90% are other locksmiths. Granted, you can’t develop 600 connections over night but if you join and stay active you can build quite a network of industry contacts. Better yet, you can use this to your advantage when seeking job opportunities.
I frequently see other locksmith companies post job opportunities. I’ve also seen locksmiths post that they were seeking employment and in turn received messages or posts from employers looking to hire. I’ve even been contacted by a few employers about job opportunities.
Another neat feature of LinkedIn is that they host job postings as well. Simply search “locksmith job” and you’ll find postings – some mirrored from other job websites and some unique to LinkedIn itself.

ALOA Career Center

While not as active as Indeed, Glassdoor, or LinkedIn, the ALOA Career Center hosts multiple job postings across the United States as well. Users of the ALOA Career Center can create accounts to also set job alerts, like Indeed and Glassdoor. You do not have to be a member of ALOA to use this service.

Clearstar Security Network

Occasionally, new job postings will appear on the Clearstar Security Network employment board. This web page is open to the public so you don’t have to be a CSN member to take advantage of it.


I must warn you that while Craigslist does offer employment opportunities you must exercise great caution and careful vetting before responding to a job posting. Craigslist has become a breeding ground of sorts for scammer operations to target entry-level prospects. I recently spoke with an individual in Kansas City who responded to an ad on Craigslist and, unbeknownst to him at the time, started working for a scammer. Hindsight 20/20, he could have avoided this with a bit of research.
I have found the FTC’s article for “Finding A Locksmith” to be very effective when evaluating a potential employer on Craigslist. Simply apply the same vetting procedure as identified in the article, when applicable, to make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate operation. If it doesn’t pass the sniff test, don’t proceed.
With all that said, don’t let this warning dissuade you. There are reputable locksmith businesses who post employment opportunities on Craigslist.

Employer Websites

On a rare occasion, there are times where a job opportunity will only be posted online at the employer’s website. A very large and prestigious college in Atlanta, for example, only posts their job openings on their Careers web page. Popular employer websites to target are those in institutional settings, such as hospitals or colleges/universities, or property management companies like CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield, JLL, and the like. While nearly all of these employers will post their openings on places like Indeed or Glassdoor, there are times where they don’t. It doesn’t hurt to bookmark their careers/employment web pages and stop by occasionally.

“In-Person” Sources

Local Chapters and Associations

As I mentioned in the “How To Become A Locksmith” article, local Chapters and associations are an excellent networking tool. If you aren’t already a member of one of these Chapters or associations then start the process, I can’t recommend it enough. At these meetings you will find other locksmiths, some of whom are business owners. The Chapter or association members will often know of local employment opportunities available.

Distributors and Suppliers

If you are fortunate enough to have a distributor or supplier in your area then they more than likely will have job postings at their customer pick-up/will-call counter. Even better, if you have a business relationship with one of their “reps” then he/she will also more than likely know of employment opportunities. Reps are very much liaisons to locksmith businesses and have a their “ear to the ground”, so to speak. They more than likely can introduce you to those who are hiring.

Traditional Sources

Print media, specifically job classifieds in newspapers, still exists and it represents another idea to find employment opportunities, although the opportunities are becoming fewer and far between. Yet another avenue is career/job fairs. Career/job fairs have seen a welcomed resurgence since the end of the Recession it seems. You can often hear about them on local radio stations, in local newspapers, as well as online (such as on community websites like Patch). Even better, they are occasionally “themed”. It’s fairly common to hear of a “facilities” or “trade” career/job fair which is right up our alley.

By |2018-03-20T09:15:27+00:00March 20th, 2018|All, Industry|0 Comments

Update: How to Become A Locksmith

We’ve added new information to our web page dedicated to those looking to get into the locksmithing trade: How to Become A Locksmith. This web page was something I put together on my previous blog to help out people who were interested in becoming a locksmith but might not know where to start. I receive multiple emails and private messages each month from those who want to get into the locksmith trade but don’t know where to start and want advice. With the launch of this website, we decided to re-host the article and update it to continue helping.
First, we’ve added multiple reviews of locksmith books that someone new to the trade could use as a self-study option. We wanted to give a run down of the content of these books as well as our opinion on them.
Second, we added alternatives to securing an apprenticeship. I know apprenticeships aren’t always an option, given someone’s area or the circumstances, but we’ve added the suggestion of seeking alternative employment that utilizes locksmithing duties, such as rekeys or lock installation. While these jobs aren’t analogous to a locksmith, they do mirror some of the tasks involved. Proficiency in these tasks would help definitely someone trying to gain full-time employment as a locksmith.
We plan to continually update this web page to provide more information and advice as we get feedback and the trade evolves. In the next few weeks we will be adding a guide on how to locate apprenticeships as well as entry-level locksmithing and locksmithing related jobs.
Feel free to share this web page with anyone approaches you, or that you see in passing such as on a forum or on social media, who expresses interest in becoming a locksmith. And, as always, we welcome feedback – we want to help as many people as possible become a part of our trade.

By |2018-03-19T09:00:39+00:00March 19th, 2018|All, Industry|0 Comments

Tyler's Take: How do we fix our 'age dilemma'?

It’s no surprise that locksmithing, like nearly all trades, is experiencing an “age dilemma”. The younger guys, and I say this as a 30-year-old, aren’t flocking to trades, or at least at a pace decent enough to replace those who are leaving much less meet outstanding demand.  Whereas other trades might be better suited to survive or perhaps even overcome this dilemma, such as electricians or pipe fitters with unions and localized education and recruiting options, we’re at a disadvantage largely due to our trade’s fragmentation. Be that as it may, I don’t believe it it’s our industries’ death knell; far from it, actually.
Now with all that said, how would you fix our trade’s age dilemma? How can we help fill our ranks and keep our trade flourishing? That’s not a rhetorical question, I’m generally interested in your thoughts. Please, leave a comment below with your idea(s). There are no wrong or right answers, only opinions, and welcomed ones at that.
My personal belief to fix the age dilemma is by paying it forward. To quote Wikipedia, paying it forward is “an expression for describing the beneficiary of a good deed repaying it to others instead of to the original benefactor.” I’ve decided that the best way to truly pay it forward in this industry is to help those looking to get into this trade. It’s a win-win if you think about it. Not all of us were born into this trade; I would be willing to bet that a large majority of us are 1st generation locksmiths. And even if you were born into this trade, none of us walked into this trade day 1 knowing everything and we certainly didn’t learn it all on our own. We had a mentor, or mentors, who helped us along the way.
While “helping” may mean different things to different people, the degree in which you “help” is entirely up to you. Maybe helping is mentoring someone you’ve already hired or someone you work with or the younger guy at your local association/chapter, maybe helping is answering questions or giving advice to someone looking to get into the trade or new to the trade, maybe helping is hiring an apprentice or speaking at a career day at the local high school. Whatever you define as helping, I see no wrong to it. Perhaps the best way to solve the age dilemma and ensure the future of this trade is to all start being proactive ambassadors to it.  Perhaps the best way to pay our mentor’s back, since they thought enough of the trade to help others in it, is to pay it forward by helping out the next group.

By |2018-03-15T09:00:20+00:00March 15th, 2018|All, Industry, Tyler's Take|1 Comment

Patents That Shaped American Locksmithing, Part 3: Walter R. Schlage's Cylindrical Lock

The gallery was not found!
Patent Number: 1,674,841 (Google Patents)
Filing Date: August 20, 1923
Issue Date: June 26, 1928
Inventor(s): Walter R. Schlage
I would personally consider the 19th century as the “golden era” of lock innovation and discovery. The first half of the century, or at least a large portion of it depending on who is defining it, was part of the Industrial Revolution. New manufacturing processes and factories allowed for innovation and inventions never before seen. Men like John Wilkinson and Henry Maudslay helped usher in a new wave of development in machining and tooling. Among the Wilkinson’s and Maudslay’s of the world were the Blake brothers of New Haven, Connecticut. On December 31, 1833, they received a patent for their “escutcheon latch” which was, for all intents and purposes, the forerunner of the modern cylindrical lock.
The “escutcheon latch” was a radical departure from the norm of the time: the mortise lock. Rather than a lock case operated by a key and/or auxiliary trim, the escutcheon latch contained a latch and knob trim that were much, much smaller and utilized a door prep that paled in comparison to it’s mortise counterparts. To quote lock historian Thomas F. Hennessey, “This type lock was almost one hundred years ahead of its time as it did not become popular in the lock industry until the 1930s.” While the “escutcheon latch” never caught up, other inventors sought to create their own version of what could compete with and perhaps even replace the mortise lock. Other early patents related to modern cylindrical and tubular locks included:

In 1923, however, Walter Reinhold Schlage, a German who immigrated to the United States and created his own lock company, filed a patent for what we now call the cylindrical lock. Walter’s version utilized knob trim, and relied on a just two small holes in the door to install. This patent wasn’t the first or last Walter received for a version of a cylindrical lock, however. Others included:

With his design, Walter was able to successfully challenge the mortise lock, the de facto standard for doors, exterior and interior, found in American residences. Schlage’s invention allowed doors to be fitted with a lock at a fraction of the time and cost of mortise locks. Furthermore, largely due to his companies’ existing manufacturing capabilities – which were able to manufacturer 20,000 locks a month by 1925, Walter was able to mass produce the lock. The lock became a hit and locks in America would never be the same. The cylindrical lock still remains the overwhelming standard in American residential construction. It also has a very large market share in commercial construction as well.
Over the course of his life, Walter Schlage was issued an astounding 250 patents related to locks. In 1946, Walter died but his companies continued to flourish. Schlage continued to expand and purchased other lock and door hardware companies, such as LCN. In 1974, Schlage was acquired by Ingersoll and Rand and in turn acquired new manufacturing facilities in New Zealand (1975) and Colorado (1976). Schlage would relocate it’s administrative offices to Colorado in 1997 while keeping it’s Technical Services and Customer Services divisions in San Francisco. In 2013, Schlage, along with 23 other global brands, were acquired by Allegion, where they still operate to this day.

By |2018-03-12T07:00:42+00:00March 12th, 2018|All, Cylindrical and Tubular, History, Locks|0 Comments

Review: Jake Jakubuwski Presents: Aluminum Stile Door Service and Repair by Jake Jakubuwski

Jake Jakubuwski Presents: Aluminum Stile Door Service and Repair by Jake Jakubuwski

Publisher: N/A
Pages: 423 Pages
Dimensions: 8 ½” x 11”  
Price: $9.99
Purchase Instructions: Via the author’s web site.


Part 1 – Parts and Hardware Overview
1. Pivots
2. Hinges
3. Locks and latches
4. Exit devices
Part 2 – Installation Procedures and Practices
1. Pivots (Includes a section on pivot deactivators)
2. Hinges  (He really likes continuous hinges)
3. Locks and Latches (Mainly about Adams-Rite style locks)
4. Exit devices


The first part goes over the components and terminology, how they go together and so on. The second part goes over installation and repair.
The book has two good strengths: first, Jake has a fairly engaging writing style–he can impart a lot of information and make it interesting; second, the installation and repair portion is not just reprinting vendor handbooks, instead it is full of beginning to end projects with a lot of photographs.
The book avoids the trap of explaining how things work when everything goes well.  The real world is not like that.  Bolts strip, things rust, and so on.  Doors take a lot of abuse and a locksmith may not be called until things are ugly.  He shows how to overcome real world problems when dealing with doors in very bad shape.  This book may be the next best thing to watching over the shoulder of a locksmith who installs and maintains these types of doors. 
For anyone considering servicing aluminum store-front doors, it is a great resource and a no-brainer at that price. 

By |2018-03-10T10:59:11+00:00March 10th, 2018|Book Review|0 Comments

Review: The National Locksmith Guide: Door Lock Encyclopedia by Robert G. Sieveking

The National Locksmith Guide: Door Lock Encyclopedia by Robert G. Sieveking

Publisher: Sieveking Products Company
Pages: 218 Pages
Dimensions: 8 ½” x 5 ½”  
Price: $49
Purchase Instructions: Via the author’s web site.


  1. Tools and Recombinating Cylinders
  2. American Eagle 5300 deadbolt, 5500 lockset, and 8500L lockset
  3. Arrow M and H locksets, and E, F, and D deadbolts.
  4. Corbin 6600 and 400 locksets
  5. Dexter 3000, 7000, and 4100 locksets
  6. Harlock 7900, and 700 locksets, and 59-920 and 59-940 deadbolts
  7. Kwikset 400 lockets, and 660 and 880 deadbolts
  8. Lori 4500 deadbolts
  9. Master locksets and deadbolts
  10. National / Amerock 441D locksets, and 497L deadbolts
  11. Sargent 6, 7, and 8 locksets
  12. Schlage A, D, and F locksets, and B deadbolts. Also a chapter on Schlage wafer locks and a chapter on hotel/motel cylinders.
  13. Weiser A 500, 530, and E 520 locksets, and D9470 and D9370 deadbolts.
  14. Yale 5280 lockset.


There are two parts to the book. The first 41 pages are mainly about repinning cylinders in general. The remainder of the book gives detailed, illustrated directions on how to remove and replace the cylinder for various key-in-knob and deadbolt locks. The book devotes 3 – 5 pages per lock, depending on the complexity of the given lock.  
The first 41 pages of the book is a good guide on pinning cylinders: MACS, good and bad cut combinations, top pin sizing, checking for master pins, shimming, removing and replacing retainers, and hints on identifying locksets by keyways. It assumes the reader has never worked on locks before but has a lot of practical advice so it’s still a good read for the beginner who has keyed cylinders before. The book has a few pages describing the more common lock functions, door handing, and common finish codes. 
Each lock section has hints on identification, including what different key ways they shipped with. There is a space and depth chart for each lock along with the LAB .003 pins that correspond to each cut. But the main point is a series of several photos and text that describes in detail how to get out the cylinder and then put it back together again. 
A plus to the book is that it has a great intro to pinning locks, and the detailed instructions could save someone a lot of frustration when dealing with an unfamiliar lock. It would seem to be good for a new apprentice rekeying locks behind the counter and could be handy for someone to review for a lock they have not worked on in a long time. 
The negative to the book is that it is becoming out of date. Nothing about Kwikset Titan, lever locks, etc. A mitigating factor, though, maybe that while instructions on rekeying newer model locks are freely available from the manufactures on line, some of the models in the book are still out there but may be hard to find online.  It would be a good companion to Servicing Lever Handle Cylindrical Locks by J. I. Levine. 
This book is not to be confused with the Lock Repair Manual by The National Locksmith–that book is a collection of random articles on locks and, in my opinion, is not worth more than a buck or two. 

By |2018-03-10T10:46:49+00:00March 10th, 2018|Book Review|0 Comments
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