Review: The National Locksmith Guide to: Advanced Wafer Lock Reading by Robert Sieveking

The National Locksmith Guide to: Advanced Wafer Lock Reading by Robert Sieveking 

ISBN: 193592064-2
Publisher: Sieveking Products Company
Pages: 243 Pages
Dimensions: 8 ½” x 5 ½”  
Price: $49
Purchase Instructions: Via the author’s web site.


  1. The Wafer Lock A good introduction to wafer locks, including the GM sidebar lock, master-keyed wafer locks, single-sided, double-sided convenience, and true double sided locks. 
  2. Wafer Lock Reading Tools  A discussion of Key-Scope and Welch Allyn Otoscopes, a wafer depressor/reader that Sieveking sells, and how to make a spring shutter tool to help with automotive doors. 
  3. Key Making Techniques  How to lay out spacings on keys even when the spaces are unknown, how to do it via impressioning, and a discussion of depths and filing technique.  
  4. The Reading Method  How to use an otoscope and a tool to pull down the wafers one at a time and read them. 
  5. Reading Cabinet Locks  Goes over specific locks and their unique characteristics as applies to sight reading: Guissani flush T-handle, L-handles from Yale, National, and Bauer, T-handles from Bauer and National, and furniture/tool box locks from Haworth, Corbin, CompX, Shaw Walker Pundra, Huwil, Fort, Hon, ESP, National, Global, Staples, and Hurd.  In some cases, spaces and depths are given, along with key blanks and other useful information.  There are a model or two that would throw off most locksmiths and this chapter describes how to deal with them.   
  6. Chrysler 7 Wafer Y-154 This, and the other automotive sections, shows how to use the Fast Facts books to find the key blank, spaces and depths, and what positions the wafers are in in the various locks on a car.  It walks through an example of each lock. 
  7. Chrysler 7 Wafer Y-157 
  8. Chrysler 8 Wafer Y-159 
  9. Ford 10 Wafer H-54 
  10. Ford 8 Wafer H-75 
  11. GM 10 Wafer 
  12. GM “Z” Wafer 
  13. GM 6 Wafer Side Bar These cannot be sight read the normal way, but there is a work around. 
  14. Foreign Autos This covers dealing with stepped wafers 
  15. Motorcyles 


This is an exhaustive book on making keys for disc tumbler locks via sight reading.  It is a very useful skill when a key cannot be made by code.  Impressioning is often used to make keys for locks without codes, but impressioning can be rough on locks and can be time consuming.  Sight reading is where a locksmith looks into a disc tumbler lock, observes the relative heights of the wafers, and cuts a key accordingly. 
The first time you look into a lock, write down the observed disc heights, cut a key accordingly by space and depth, and it works the first try—that is a mile stone.  It can be fast and has no risk of damaging a lock—so easy it is almost fun.  But it does require some skill and some special tools.  The Foley-Belsaw course, and the old Locksmithing Institute course each had a chapter on sight reading, but they were just enough, in my opinion, to introduce the topic.  There could be a steep learning curve going up against anything but the most ordinary locks.   
This is where this book comes in.  It goes over a lot of the potential landmines and could save someone a lot of frustration in learning the skill. 
It is a useful skill in automotive locksmithing, but it can be used for non-automotive wafer locks as well.  This book devotes a very large chapter, around 60 pages, to sight reading non-automotive locks, including nuances specific to certain locks that could throw you off.  So it is a useful book even if you have no interest in automotive work but do need to make keys for office furniture, L and T-handle locks, or locks for tool boxes. 
Sieveking has a less-expensive book for an introduction to sight reading, but for a little more, why not get the big book?

By |2018-09-27T09:00:09+00:00September 27th, 2018|All, Book Review|0 Comments

The Professional Locksmith Dictionary Added to Tools

We’ve recently added the The Professional Locksmith Dictionary to our Tools section.
First published in 1982 and routinely updated through the years, The Professional Locksmith Dictionary is a peer reviewed, readily available document provided by the Lock Industry Standards and Training (LIST) Council. The LIST Council’s goal has been to standardize locksmith terminology and definitions. Over the years, manufacturers, associations, and numerous publications have utilized terminology as defined by the The Professional Locksmith Dictionary.
If you weren’t previously aware of The Professional Locksmith Dictionary take a moment to check it out. Learning and using standardized locksmith terminology will ultimately benefit your career. First, it allows you to properly communicate with your colleagues. If you’re all speaking the same language then you’re on the same page when performing locksmith tasks, such as ordering a part or suggesting a solution to problem. Second, it reinforces professionalism not only between peers and colleagues but also your customers.  As I mentioned in my Customer Retention article, consumers value knowledge and expertise. Third, it adequately prepares you for certification tests, such as ALOA’s Proficiency Registration Program (PRP). There is perhaps no better preparation tool for the PRP than The Professional Locksmith Dictionary.

By |2018-09-20T09:00:04+00:00September 20th, 2018|All, Locksmith Terminology, Tools Update|0 Comments

Manufacturer & Tech Support Directory Added to Tools


We have launched our Manufacturer & Tech Support Directory in the Tools section.  This directory contains pertinent contact information, such as addresses, phone and fax numbers, website URLs, and even specific technical support instructions, for hundreds of manufacturers involved in the locksmith industry. These manufacturers cover areas including, but not limited to: automotive, access control, CCTV, commercial and residential hardware, door closers and operators, keys, and safes.
The goal of this tool is to provide locksmiths with their own personal “Rolodex” for manufacturers. While someone can search Google and track down these numbers, we have created a Directory that allows a locksmith to locate necessary contact information in either one click or one search. That is efficiency.
There are three ways to navigate this directory or locate information within it.

Navigation Menu

Perhaps the easiest way to navigate the Directory is to utilize the Menu at the top of the website. Simply hover over the Tools section and then the Manufacturers & Tech Support option to either access the Directory main page or reveal each entries’ page.

Links Within the Directory

There are links to each entries’ page on the top of the main Directory page. There are also links at the top and bottom of each entries’ page. This allows you to navigate within the Directory from any page in it.

The Search Function

You can also use the Search function. Simply enter the manufacturer’s name, or a portion of it, within quotes, e.g. “Schlage” to return the applicable page.


We are excited to launch this tool. We believe that locksmiths will find tremendous use in it. I’ve spent many hours in a truck and have been called to service hardware I wasn’t immediately familiar with. I wish I had a tool like this Directory in those days. It would have saved me a lot of time Googling and searching manuals for phone numbers!

By |2018-09-17T09:00:12+00:00September 17th, 2018|All, Tools Update|0 Comments

Introductory Locksmithing: Extracting A Broken Key


Broken keys are a frequent and lucrative source of revenue for locksmiths. Analogous to lockouts, extracting broken keys can be done in quick order with the proper tools and know-how. Here are some of the finer details related to extracting broken keys from locks.

Broken Key Jobs

When you receive a service call/request for a broken key, stress to the customer that they do not touch the lock until you arrive. I have seen relatively simple key extractions made far more complicated than they have to be simply because the customer took it upon themselves to try to remove it. Sometimes they’ll exhaust all attempts to extract the key before they call you. In case they haven’t tell to them that they leave it alone until you arrive. Let the customer know that their actions can turn a quick and simple job into a costly one.


Before you attempt to remove a broken key, you want to assess the lock and make sure the job is going to be as straight forward as pulling the broken key out. First, is the plug rotated beyond the key pull position?

key pull position n. any position, of the cylinder plug at which the key can be removed

If the plug isn’t oriented at the key pull position, the plug’s wafers or tumblers will keep the broken key trapped. In order for the key to be removed, you must rotate the plug to the key pull position.
Second, is the broken key behind a wafer or tumbler? Similar to the problem with the key pull position, if the broken portion is resting against a wafer or tumbler, it more than likely won’t pull straight out. You will have to address and overcome this potential problem.

Key Extraction Tools 

Whatever the tool, the purpose is the same: grab the broken key and pull it out. Here are different types of key extraction tools:




I always have a pair of tweezers with a thin, sharp-pointed head in hand when called to extract a broken key. If there is enough of the key to grasp with the tweezers, that’s what I start with. They also are great at removing brass slivers that love to stick into your fingers. You can source tweezers from dozens of brick and mortar and online stores.
Peterson sells a scissor extractor set that functions much like tweezers. While marketed for automotive keys, I have found them more than sufficient for wafer and pin tumbler locks as well.

Spiral Extractors

Spiral extractors.

Spiral extractors.

I have always had great success with spiral extractors. Spiral extractors are ~.040″ thick wire with spiral teeth running along it’s length.
To use a spiral extractor, insert the spiral extractor somewhere between the key and plug. Press the spiral extractor in while rotating it clockwise. This process is very similar to tapping and, for lack of better words, that’s what you’re doing. The spiral groves of the extractor grab on to the key as it’s being fed into the plug. More is not always best with these, if you feed too much the force required to remove it will exceed the extractor’s tensile strength. When that happens, the extractor will break and you’ll make your situation worse. I usually try to feed spiral extractors 3/8″ to 5/8″ into the plug for wafer locks; up to 3/4″ for pin tumbler locks.
Once you have fed a sufficient amount into the cylinder plug, attach a pair of vise grips to the extractor’s handle. Before pulling, make sure your vise grips are in line with plug and you’re pulling straight out. If you pull at an angle you’re likely to cause extra force/work and you could potentially break the extractor.
The spiral teeth will wear down over time and some will inevitably break; it happens. Make sure you carry at least 3-5 on you at all times.

Saw-Tooth Extractors

Saw-tooth extractors are typically .022-.025″ thick and utilize multiple teeth, like a saw blade, to grab the key and remove it.

Hook Extractors

Hook extractors come in a variety of shapes and sizes but all utilize a sharp, pointed hook to grab and remove the key.
Saw-tooth and hook extractors are very similar in size and function. With the exception of the number of teeth and the shape of the teeth, or hook, they are comparable in size, both in height and width.  Both aim to grab the key on the top of the blade, where the key’s cuts are, to “snag it”. With that said, certain situations allow for both types of extractors to grab the side of the blank as well. Keeping with this possibility, Peterson manufacturers a type of hook pick called the sidewinder shim that is specifically suited for side grabbing.


If all efforts to pull the key out with a dedicated extractor fail or are proving fruitless, it may be time to remove the cylinder to give yourself more access to the cylinder and thus a better opportunity to remove the key. Keep in mind that this may or may not involve unlocking the door via a method other than the cylinder itself.
I have seen and heard of other locksmiths using super glue to remove broken keys. This is accomplished by gluing a small probe tool to the broken key, allowing it to cure, and pulling. Don’t do this. Glue doesn’t belong in a lock no matter the circumstances. I’ve been a locksmith for 11 years now and have never encountered a broken key that I couldn’t remove utilizing the aforementioned tools.

Preventing Future Broken Keys

Simply removing the key and collecting payment shouldn’t be the entirety of the service call. Try to find out what caused the key to break. Was it user error or is the lock not operating correctly? Before you leave, make sure everything/everyone is working as it/they should to prevent broken keys in the future.

Video Supplement

Tools Update: New Key Bitting Specifications and Pinning Worksheets

New Key Bitting Specifications

There are 5 new key bitting specifications (KBS) available on the Key Bitting Specifications page in the Tools section:

  • Chicago Disc Tumbler
  • Corbin Russwin Access 3 (AP)
  • Master Lock Pro Series
  • National Disc Tumbler (Single Sided)
  • Sargent Degree (DG1)

The Chicago and National Disc Tumbler represent two of the most popular specifications in use for wafer/cam locks. The Master Lock Pro Series is an equally popular specification for padlocks. Finally, we have the Corbin Russwin Access 3 (AP) and Sargent Degree (DG1) specifications. These are two very unique cylinder/key platforms.

New Pinning Worksheets

There are also 2 new pinning worksheets available on the Pinning Worksheets page, also in the Tools section:

  • Sargent 6300 Decoding Worksheet
  • Sargent 6300 Pinning Worksheet

The Sargent 6300 Decoding Worksheet is an updated version of our original 6300 Decoding Worksheet. We have made a few changes to it that we think will allow locksmiths to further streamline it’s use. The Sargent 6300 Pinning Worksheet will allow locksmiths to draft pinning charts for these cores in seconds. Both worksheets contain pinning rules and formulas as well as pin segment lengths and measurements.

Introductory Locksmithing: Lock Functions


Locks come in a variety of shapes, sizes, finishes, backsets, etc. These features were implemented to fill needs. Lock functions too were designed to fill needs. Situations exist where a door should always be locked, when it should never be locked, or when it should do X or Y. Locks with a variety of functions were and are therefore necessary to meet the needs of these situations. 

function n. a set of operating features for a particular type of lock or exit device which make it suitable for a specific application. The function is designated by a classification name or standards reference number. See ANSI or BHMA for a specific listing.


ANSI/BHMA standards both define and assign names and numbers (known primarily as function numbers but also as ANSI numbers or function codes) to functions. The use of function descriptions, names, and numbers is commonly associated with 2 lock types:  

  1. ANSI/BHMA A156.2 (Bored & Preassembled Locks and Latches) covers bored locks, such as cylindrical knobsets and leversets.  
  1. ANSI/BHMA A156.13 (Standard for Mortise Locks and Latches) covers mortise locks.  

While technically bored locks, interconnected locks and their functions are defined in their own standard, ANSI/BHMA A156.12 (Interconnected Locks & Latches); I will use the “cylindrical” nomenclature for the remainder of this article to avoid any confusion. 
Other lock types, such as deadbolts and even cylinders, have functions defined and assigned names and numbers by ANSI/BHMA standards. Mortise locks and cylindrical locksets will be the focus of this article since they carry many more functions than the aforementioned lock types. 


Standardizing functions helps bring uniformity to our industry. All manufacturers include function names and numbers in their catalogs. If you were searching for a specific function across multiple product lines, seeing this function name and number would tell you how the lock operates regardless of the manufacturer or their product number. For example, a Schlage L9010 and a Sargent 8215 are passage function (F01) mortise locks. Here is a side by side comparison of their catalog entries, each with their function number listed: 

Sargent and Schlage F01 comparison.

Sargent and Schlage F01 comparison.

Unique Functions

There are multiple functions that manufacturers offer that ANSI/BHMA standards don’t define or quantify. This is especially true for mortise locks which can incorporate more features, such as a deadbolt, than cylindrical knob and leversets. For example, Schlage’s L Series mortise locks has 57 functions – less than half have a corresponding ANSI/BHMA function name or number. Fortunately, all manufacturers include drawings as well as thorough descriptions for functions that ANSI/BHMA standards don’t cover. This eliminates any guess work.  
A clear majority of the locks that we sell or service have a function name and number. With a bit of familiarity and practice, their identification will be as second nature as identifying a tool in your tool box. In this article, we’re going to discuss the most common functions, their features, and where they are generally found to help build this familiarity. I’ve included descriptions, names, and numbers from Schlage’s L (mortise) and ND (cylindrical) series locks to help illustrate each function discussed. 

Function Terminology

Before we do that, let’s take a moment to cover some terminology. When describing a lock, we need to differentiate between each side of the door. Avoid using terms like secured side. This causes confusion over interpretation. Use the terms “outside” and “inside” instead. Outside refers to the side of the door which houses the cylinder; manufacturers will sometime refer to this as the “cylinder side” of the door. Inside nearly always refers to the side of the door without a cylinder. There are functions with cylinders on both sides of the door but the manufacturer will adequately describe these functions. This is the terminology used by manufacturers and it would serve you well to not only understand it but also practice it.  

Popular Functions

Popular Schlage ND Series (Grade 1, Cylindrical Leverset) Functions

Passage (F01 for mortise, F75 for cylindrical) 

Schlage L Series (Mortise Lock) Passage Function (F01).

Schlage L Series (Mortise Lock) Passage Function (F01).

The good thing about functions is that their name gives us clues to their use or operation. Passage function locks are a good example of this. They allow passage no matter which side of the door you are on. No key is required and passage locks cannot be locked. 
Passage function locks are ideal where doors are either required, such as by code, or desired to latch but not lock. Examples of their usage include common areas and on stairwell doors. They are also commonly used in conjunction with deadbolts where allowed. 

Privacy (F02, F19, or F22 for mortise, F76 for cylindrical) 

Schlage L Series (Mortise Lock) Bath/Bedroom Privacy Function (F22).

Schlage L Series (Mortise Lock) Bath/Bedroom Privacy Function (F22).

Privacy function locks allow an occupant inside of a room to lock the door from the inside via a thumbturn or push button. Turning the inside trim retracts the latch and/or deadbolt. Furthermore, there is an emergency override on the outside that a user can operate with a coin, standard screwdriver, or similar object that allows them to open the door in the event of an emergency. For mortise locks, F22 utilizes a latchbolt, no deadbolt. F02 and F19 incorporate a deadbolt. On F19 function mortise locks, the latch cannot be retracted by the outside trim when the deadbolt is thrown, on F02 function mortise locks it can (the latch and deadbolt operate independently). Privacy function locks are common on restroom doors as well as interior residential doors.  

Office/Entrance (F04 for mortise, F82 for cylindrical) 

Schlage L Series (Mortise Lock) Office/Inner Entry Function (F04).

Schlage L Series (Mortise Lock) Office/Inner Entry Function (F04).

Office/Entrance function mortise locks allow the room’s occupant to lock a door by utilizing a key and either a thumbturn or a toggle switch. Some manufacturers offer both types. For locks utilizing a toggle switch,you can only lock the door using the toggle switch. The door remains locked when turning the inside trim and using a key only retracts the latch. The toggle switch must be returned to the unlocked position to unlock the outside trim. For locks utilizing a thumbturn, the door can be locked using a key or the thumbturn. The door remains locked when turning the inside trim. The door can be unlocked by the key or by returning the thumbturn to the unlocked position.   
For cylindrical locks, F109 (Entrance Function) is very similar to F82. In fact, most people refer to them both as entrance function locks. The difference is that F109 function cylindrical locks utilize a turn-and-push button on the inside. Pushing the button will lock the door until you turn the inside trim or use the outside key to unlock it. Pushing and turning the button will lock the door indefinitely; the button must be turned back to the “push” position for it to be unlocked the next time the inside trim is turned or the key is used. Office/Entrance function locks are very popular on residences and individual commercial offices and closets. 

Storeroom (F07 for mortise, F86 for cylindrical) 

Schlage L Series (Mortise Lock) Storeroom Function (F07).

Schlage L Series (Mortise Lock) Storeroom Function (F07).

Storeroom function locks always remained locked from the outside and unlocked from the inside. You can use a key to retract the latch but that will not unlock the lock. A storeroom function lock prevents someone from inadvertently leaving the door unlocked. Storeroom function locks are popular on rooms containing sensitive information, such as server rooms, or items, such as storage rooms. Storeroom function locks are also popular with doors utilizing electric strikes. This prevents someone from unlocking the lock, relying instead on the electric strike, while still allowing for a mechanical override if necessary. 
Most manufacturers now offer storeroom function cylindrical leversets with “clutched” levers. Standard storeroom function cylindrical leversets have rigid outside levers whereas clutched levers are not; they allow movement of the outside lever without retracting the latch. This protects against destructive entry attempts to open a cylindrical leverset by forcing the outside lever trim. 

Classroom (F05 for mortise, F84 for cylindrical)

Schlage L Series (Mortise Lock) Classroom Function (F05).

Schlage L Series (Mortise Lock) Classroom Function (F05).

Classroom locks are very popular on, you guessed it, classrooms. The function allows only key holders, such as teachers or other school staff, to lock and unlock the outside trim of the lock. You don’t want to give students or other individuals the ability to lock the teacher out, after all! 
It’s important to note that new hardware products and lock functions are being developed by manufacturers to help protect classrooms in the event of an active shooter or similar threat. Furthermore, life safety codes related to this specific situation are actively being debated, researched, and, in some cases, revised in response. The usage of the term “classroom” is highly popular with these new functions. I cannot stress how important it is to verify the function of these locks as well as their legality in your jurisdiction before choosing to service or install them.  

Other Functions 

Passage, privacy, storeroom, entrance, and classroom functions are by far the most popular and utilized lock functions currently. You can satisfy a large majority of customer’s requests with these functions alone. There are, however, dozens more functions available. It would serve you well to familiarize yourself with different manufacturers’ offerings by reviewing their catalogs. These also serve as excellent research tools if a customer requests a lock function that you aren’t immediately familiar with.  

Universal Function Mortise Locks

Best 45H “Universal Function” Mortise Lock. Screw positions (labeled 1-5) allow the lock’s function to be changed in the field.

BEST, Sargent, and Schlage offer multi-function/universal mortise locks. These mortise lock bodies are capable of multiple, different functions with a single lock body. Changes to the lock body, such as screws in BEST’s case as seen above, result in changes to the function. Changing of these functions can potentially require you to add, remove, or swap existing trim and/or components. For example, transforming a passage function mortise lock to a storeroom function mortise lock requires a mortise cylinder. It’s important to understand these changes when quoting to change the function of mortise locks so that you and your customer don’t incur additional costs during the job and/or potentially leave unfilled holes in the door. 

Tyler’s Take: Don’t Ignore the ‘Bible’!


Far too often I have seen cylinders rekeyed incorrectly. I’ve seen this in person and online, specifically on YouTube. The incorrect rekeying process typically goes like this:

  1. Remove the cam/tailpiece.
  2. Remove the plug with a follower.
  3. Dump the old bottom pins.
  4. Install new bottom pins.
  5. Re-install plug.
  6. Re-install cam/tailpiece.
  7. Lubricate.
  8. Check operation.

What’s missing? Perhaps one of the most vital steps of all: checking the ‘bible’.

The Bible

We covered the ‘bible’ in Locksmith Terminology: Pin Tumbler Cylinders but to recap:

bible n. that portion of the cylinder shell which normally houses the pin chambers, especially those of a key-in-knob cylinder or certain rim cylinders

The bible for KIK/KIL, mortise, and rim cylinders houses the top pins and springs. In the above scenario, no attention is given to it. Why should there be?

Potential Problems

There are quite a few items related to the bible that every professional locksmith should be concerned with:

  1. Springs. Are the springs crushed or weak? If so, there’s a very good chance that the cylinder will operate intermittently.
  2. Top Pins. Are the right top pins being utilized? Manufacturer’s specifications are not friendly suggestions. Has someone inverted bottom pins to account for a prior, poor rekeying job? That removes a tremendous amount of pick-resistance.
  3. Potential Master Pins. Are there any master pins in the bible? Whether you disassembled the cylinder with a key or via shimming, the potential exists for master keys to rest above the plug and within the bible. With that comes the potential for incidental master keys.

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

There’s also a chance that debris, such as dirt or excessive graphite, has worked it’s way into the chambers. That too could cause intermittent operation or failure.


Once you touch that cylinder  you “own it”, so to speak. If something goes wrong, you were the last person to touch it and you’re more than likely going to hear about it first. Avoid the headaches and liability by doing things right from the start. Rekeying isn’t simply replacing the bottom pins. A professional rekey job also includes inspecting what’s in the cylinder’s bible; a process that only takes an additional 10-15 seconds. It also includes correcting any mistakes the last person to touch it made. If those mistakes are beyond reasonable correction, a professional alerts the customer and makes the recommendation to replace it.
Here’s another way to consider it:
A call back results in what? An hour of your time? If we assume 10 seconds to check the bible, that means you can check 360 cylinders during that time, albeit broken up and over time. If you ignore the bible all together, you’re essentially gambling that at least 360 of the cylinders you touch aren’t going to have any of the aforementioned problems present AND those problems won’t result in a callback. On the 361st cylinder you touch, you’re coming out ahead by a whooping 10 seconds. See what I’m getting at? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Checking The Bible

You can complete the process of checking the bible in just a few seconds. Here are two ways you can do that:

By |2018-09-04T09:00:19+00:00September 4th, 2018|All, Cores and Cylinders, Locks, Tyler's Take|0 Comments
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