See You In 2019!

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

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

Mortise Lock Library Update

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

List of Manufacturers

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


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

Manufacturer’s Literature and Manuals

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

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

Library Update, Update


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


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

Library Updates

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

List of Manufacturers

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


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

The “New” Resources tab.

Manufacturer’s Literature and Manuals

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

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

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

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

Future Library Additions

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

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

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

Moving Forward

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

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

Using TMK Registers


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

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

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

Potential TMK Problems

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

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

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

Example of a TMK Register

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

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

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

Constructing and Using A “New” TMK Register

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

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

Manufacturer and Key Section

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

TMK Bitting

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

Parity Pattern/Angles

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

Register and File #

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


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


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

And here is one restricted to manufacturer and key section:

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


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

Alterations and Alternatives

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

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