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

Tyler’s Take: Do It the Right Way


In the July/August 2017 edition Keynotes I wrote an article titled Locksmithing Risk Mitigation: Preventing Callbacks. In this article, I identified the 3 sources of call backs:

  1. User error
  2. Technician error
  3. Manufacturer error

As I noted in the article, we don’t have much control over user and manufacturer error. Yes, we can try to do a better job of teaching our customers about utilizing their hardware and, yes, we can evaluate products prior to selling them but we will never have control over user and manufacturer errors in the way that we have control over technician error, or a callback that occurred due to our work.
In the article, I stressed that technician error can be drastically reduced, if not outright eliminated, by simply doing things the right way. So what is the right way?

The Right Way

The right way is nothing more than doing things the way they’re supposed to be done. Sounds trivial, doesn’t it? It doesn’t have to be.
The right way is installing door hardware the way the manufacturer’s instructions call for. Some may think or say that 6 screws in the case/head unit of a Von Duprin 98/99 is overkill but that’s what the instructions call for. Or how often have you seen hardware that wasn’t installed correctly? Examples abound but the fact remains: install per directions. Don’t make any interpretations or go off script; they developed and tested their product, they know what’s best.
The right way is going with the correct repair or installation, not the easiest. That’s not to say they’re always going to be mutually exclusive but often times they are. Stripped mounting screws on a surface mount door closer on wood or metal door. Easiest solution? Go to the next biggest size screw size and re-install. Correct solution? Through-bolt it because surface mount screws, of any size, obviously didn’t work the first time around. Or how often have we seen broken screws that the person before left? Easiest solution is just to ignore it but the correct solution is to remove the broken screw(s) and replace them.
The right way is recommending the correct solution, not the easiest and/or most lucrative. Most of us love this job and this trade but at the end of the day we’re all here to make money. That said, don’t let laziness or greed take precedence over professionalism.
These aren’t the only qualifiers of the right way but they should hopefully begin to paint a picture of what the right way is. To simplify the right way, how would you want someone to treat you or your property when you called on them to perform a service? You’d want them to install and/or maintain your property like a professional. You’d want them to make professional recommendations and sell you professional solutions. Put plainly, you’d want to be treated the right way.


At the end of the day, we all have to atone for our decisions in life, both professionally and personally. I cannot for the life of me fathom why anyone would not want to at least attempt to give their best and do things the right way. Never mind a reputation or customer satisfaction or a business practice, I’m talking about self-respect and self-worth. We should all strive for our very best and our work should absolutely be a reflection of that. Don’t take short cuts, don’t half-ass things, don’t be lazy about it. Do it the right way.

By |2018-11-08T09:00:13+00:00November 8th, 2018|All, Business, Tyler's Take|2 Comments

November and December Manufacturer Price Updates

Multiple manufacturers will change their prices in November and December. Below is a list of these manufacturers along with effective dates, increase percentage(s), and, if available, a link to the new price book(s). Please note that some of these figures have been gathered indirectly; please consult with your local rep and/or the manufacturer for confirmation.

November 1st

Arrow Lock and Door Hardware – 3% price increase with the exception of QL, MLX, RLX, RL, RK, and DBX series (which will be rounded up to the nearest whole dollar amount) and the DC300 and DC500 series (both have a 10% tariff surcharge/price increase). (Price Book Download)
Don-Jo Mfg., Inc. – 11% price increase. (Price Book Download)
Emtek Products Inc. – 3.7% tariff surcharge/price increase.

November 5th

Baldwin Hardware – 7% price increase with the exception of Estate Pre-Configured (6%), Estate (7.5%), Multi-Point (10%), Electronics (10%), and Reserve (6%) lines.
Hager Companies – 8% price increase on residential hinges, 6% price increase on ECCO hinges.
Kwikset Corporation  – 7% price increase/tariff surcharge. (Price Book Download)
National Manufacturing Co. – 7% price increase/tariff surcharge.
Weiser Lock – 7% price increase/tariff surcharge.

December 1st

Allegion – 7% price increase on the following product lines: J Series by Dexter, Ives Accessories, Schlage Builders Hardware, LCN aluminum closers, and Falcon closer models SC60, S60A, SC70, SC70A, SC80, SC80A, SC90 and SC90A.

By |2018-11-02T14:53:58+00:00November 2nd, 2018|All, Business, Industry|0 Comments

Installing a RFID/EAS system

This week we’re featuring a guest column by Wayne Winton of If you would like to submit a guest column, contact us.


What the heck are RFID or EAS systems? The details are readily available via Wikipedia or other sources, but in a nutshell, they’re the things that beep if you exit a store and the tag hasn’t been deactivated during checkout. We’ve all heard them before, but not many of us know how they work or how to install them, even though they’re a huge part of the security industry. Stores are literally spending billions on theft prevention, and they’re not spending the bulk of that money on locks; it’s on these systems to catch criminals in the act. We all know that investing in layers of security is important, and this is one of those layers.
I received a call to see if I would be willing to bid on installing one of these systems in a very high-end clothing store. I was in the middle of replying “no,” but I caught myself mid sentence. I had a flash thought and quick conversation with myself. “Hmm… maybe this could be a new source of income and a new skill for me to learn. How hard could it be?”
So I started asking questions about what was involved and the total process. Turns out, it didn’t sound that bad, with the exception of making a slot 56″ x 9″ x 56″ x 9″ rectangle in solid concrete 1″ wide x 1½” deep. Oh yes, and don’t make any dust whatsoever!
So, my brain computes the numbers and the solution, and I responded to the caller. “OK, I’ll do it. Here’s my price.” I bid high enough that I wanted to scare them away, but to my surprise, they gladly agreed. It started to sink in that I was now committed to doing this!
I did the proper research on cutting concrete and how to keep dust down and added a bit of my own thoughts into the mix and came up with a plan. I always look at every job that seems difficult and tell myself, “There is some man or woman doing the same thing somewhere right now, so it can be done. I just need to learn how.” The following description and photos will explain exactly how I did just that.

The Job Begins

Upon arriving to the job site, I surveyed the area and double and triple-check my installation measurements. Then, only when I was 100% positive of the location, I began measuring my cut out (see Figures 1-3). I used a large 4′ x 2′ square to make sure everything was centered and a perfect square. I crosshatched out the area to be cut to avoid confusion from all the lines laid out. Having a good plan and staying committed to it is the key to a good job. I had never cut concrete in my life, so it was important to stay on track and organized.

Figure 1.

Figure 2

Figure 3

I decided to use a cordless 18V Milwaukee 7½” saw equipped with a diamond blade to make my cuts. I’m highly invested in the system, and I had plenty of batteries to keep it turning. I did bring a corded unit just in case, along with a backup blade. So, rigged up and ready to go, I set the cut depth to 1½” (Figure 4) — and I had a secret weapon.

Figure 4

The Secret Weapon

This is the part where I added my own thoughts into the equation. I sealed a shop vac attachment to the largest part of the saw and sealed the rest of the openings up with Gorilla tape to make a tight suction (Figures 5-9).

Figure 5

Figure 6

Figure 7

Figure 8

Figure 9

This ensured every bit of dust got sucked into the shop vac and didn’t land in the store or on the high-end clothes. This was the one bit of information I couldn’t find online: how to keep the dust contained without using water. Water wasn’t an option in this location at all, so this was my solution to the problem. You never know if a new untested idea will work until you hit the power button and see your plan in action. It worked flawlessly! Truly not one speck of dust could escape. It’s one of the ideas that came together in the field perfectly (that doesn’t happen that often). I could hear the shop vac struggling about halfway through, so we took a break, emptied it out and cleaned the filter outside. We examined how the cutting was going (Figures 10-11).

Figure 10

Figure 11

The Work Continues

After adjusting to cut the lines out as measured and being sure I cut well past the corners to ensure proper depth, it was time to bring out the air compressor. Again, we were faced with the dreaded dust issue.
Using an air chisel (Figure 12) with the shop vac hovering over every move, it was time to clean the slot out.

Figure 12

This was to ensure it was the proper depth to fit the wire and plastic conduit while having room to seal it back up in concrete (Figure 13-14). After the slot was cleaned out and dust-free, it was time to see if the loop fit. The system is basically a dual copper wire in plastic conduit in a premeasured circle or rectangle, leaving enough wire to run to a computer system that reads the signal when the tag comes within a certain radius.

Figure 13

Figure 14

I crossed my fingers and really hoped my planning paid off. Success! It fit like a glove, and no further modification was needed (Figure 15).

Figure 15

The wires run over to the wall, where white conduit covers it along the baseboard to the receiver (disguised in a heater vent) and then back out to a power source converting the system to low-voltage 12V power. This allowed me to be able to work on it in the first place (Figure 16).

Figure 16

I then needed to cut a hole in the wall to hide the receiver and place the heater vent over it to hide it. A spot was measured out and cut (Figure 17), but a false wall was discovered; mounting had to be reevaluated.

Figure 17

We cut a larger hole, and the system was mounted vertically. (Figure 18).

Figure 18

Then, the heater vent was placed to see if it would conceal the unit (Figure 19).

Figure 19

Then came the really scary part: checking to see if the system worked and setting the sensitivity. For this, the receiver housing must be opened and the wires attached (Figure 20).

Figure 20

The knob in the unit adjusts the sensitivity and how far the tag needs to be from the wires in the ground to set off the alarm (Figure 21). Now I’m no tech guru, so tech support for the unit was able to walk me through the process. It was pretty simple, really.

Figure 21

The deactivating pad was installed under the desk (Figure 22), along with the alarm pad (Figure 23). Again, wires were run and disguised under a power strip threshold to provide power to these units — also quite simple. The system was tested repeatedly and screwed down into place.

Figure 22

Figure 23

Wrapping Up

After noting the entire system was working properly, it was time to seal it all up and make my mess look pretty. I mixed up some Portland cement (no rocks) to fill in the groove (Figure 24) and then troweled the mixture to a smooth finish (Figure 25).

Figure 24

Figure 25

This made it look as if we were never there once the carpet was placed over it. Then, we caulked in all the conduit and made it seamless from the floor to the power source; we made it very professional looking (Figure 26-27).

Figure 26

Figure 27

Finally, we replaced the carpet and threshold to make it look like we were never even there (Figure 28).

Figure 28

We received approval from the manager of the store and the company who hired me to do the job, and there was nothing more to do but clean up and pack up tools. This job sounds ultra-complicated, but when broken down into individual tasks, it suddenly becomes much more manageable and simple. Really, the most difficult part of the job was keeping it clean. No one part was actually that difficult or intense.
So, the next time you get a call to try something outside your comfort zone, break it down into pieces and individual tasks, and give it a go. You might be surprised at what you can do — and the price you can charge — when you think outside the box.

By |2018-11-01T09:00:31+00:00November 1st, 2018|Access Control, All|1 Comment
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