The Professional Locksmith Dictionary Updated

We have updated The Professional Locksmith Dictionary in the Tools section using the terms and definition approved via the last peer review. These include:

  • blade height n. 1. in a cylinder key, the distance from the bottom of the blade to the top of the uncut surface, 2. in a multiply bitted key, the distance from a registration point to the top of the uncut surface
  • blade length n. in a cylinder key, the distance from the tip of the key to the bow stop or the bow
  • blade width n. in a cylinder key, the distance from one non-bitted surface to the opposite non-bitted surface
  • burglar chest n. a small safe, typically with a UL rating, designed to resist burglary attempts
  • buzzer plate n. an automotive ignition component that triggers an alarm when the key is in the ignition and a door is open without the engine running
  • CAI abb. the title ‘Certified ACE Instructor’ as awarded by ALOA
  • CAL abb. the title ‘Certified Automotive Locksmith’ as awarded by ALOA
  • CEL abb. the title ‘Certified Electronics Locksmith’ as awarded by ALOA
  • CFDI abb. the title ‘Certified Fire Door Inspector’ as awarded by ALOA
  • CFL abb. the title ‘Certified Forensic Locksmith’ as awarded by ALOA, may be followed by a specialty name
  • CHI abb. the title ‘Certified Hardware Installer’ as awarded by ALOA
  • chip key n. one which incorporates or includes an electronic component that communicates with another vehicle component to allow or deny starting; see also, Vehicle Anti-Theft System, transponder key, remote head key, integrated head key
  • CLL abb. the title ‘Certified Licensed Locksmith’ as awarded by ALOA for specific states, state name typically can follow the initials
  • clone key n. one that has a transponder that replicates another transponder code
  • cloner n. a device that may be used to replicate an electronic copy of a transponder
  • CMEL abb. the title ‘Certified Master Electronics Locksmith’ as awarded by ALOA
  • CMAL abb. the title ‘Certified Master Automotive Locksmith’ as awarded by ALOA
  • direct communication n. an access control system which relies solely on information provided at that time from the central computer to grant or deny access
  • distributed intelligence n. an online access control system which is capable of maintaining authorization data locally in case of communication delays or failure
  • ECM abb. Electronic Control Module
  • electronic key n. any key that has an electronic component
  • electronic control module n. an automobile computer that controls all electronic functions of the vehicle
  • flash v. to program an ECM
  • fob n. an object or remote, other than a key, which attaches to a key ring, key or key chain
  • fob key n. a vehicle remote with an attached key blade, and/or other electronic features, which allows the user to start the engine and drive the vehicle
  • grid chart n. a matrix based layout for organizing access points and their corresponding access needs, used primarily in master keying and access control
  • ICML abb. the title ‘Institutional Certified Master Locksmith’ as awarded by ALOA
  • ICPL abb. the title ‘Institutional Certified Professional Locksmith’ as awarded by ALOA
  • ICRL abb. the title ‘Institutional Certified Registered Locksmith’ as awarded by ALOA
  • immobilizer n. an anti-theft device in an automobile, which prevents starting or driving the vehicle unless an appropriate electronic credential is present
  • incidental master key n. a key combination which operates a cylinder combinated to two or more keys from different levels in a master key system
  • integrated head key n. a remote head fob key that contains a transponder
  • key changes n. the number of different combinations available to use as individual keys for a particular cylinder/lock
  • LH Horizontal v. safe lock mounting when the lock is mounted with the lock bolt pointing to the left when viewed from inside the safe or vault
  • local code precedence see Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ)
  • *locksmith n. a person with the knowledge and ability to select, install, service and/or bypass the components of electrical or mechanical locks
  • mocksmith n. an individual who falsely presents himself as a locksmith
  • money chest n. a small safe, typically with a UL rating, designed to resist burglary attempts
  • on-line system n. an access control layout in which a central computer communicates with panels near the openings using either distributed intelligence or direct communication
  • open bottom combination lock n. a combination lock with an opening in the bottom to allow direct entry of a gravity, or pressure, operated lever when the correct combination is dialed
  • precut position n. a specific depth of cut on a key blank that causes otherwise properly cut keys to operate a specific secondary device within the lock, such as a control lug
  • pressure system n. a bolt system that consists of one or more bars that apply closing force to the door as they are rotated into a curved strike
  • relock pin n. a typically spring loaded bolt, designed to engage a safe’s boltwork, when the safe lock is disturbed, and prevent the boltwork from operating
  • remote n. a device for permitting the control of functions, of a lock device or alarm, at a distance
  • remote head key n. a mechanical fob key that has a remote as the bow
  • RH Horizontal v. safe lock mounting when the lock is mounted with the lock bolt pointing to the right when viewed from inside the safe or vault
  • selective change key n. an incidental key whose combination is taken from an individual key and the unique bitting of a selective master key
  • sliding guard tumbler n. a guard tumbler in a single nose safe deposit lock that allows an operating key to unlock after the guard key is turned and removed
  • smart key adj. a key that has a proximity device function to operate a lock
  • sounding device n. an audible annunciator that, when activated, indicates a situation requiring action
  • theoretical master key n. an incidental master key combination that can be cut to operate more than one lock keyed to a MK and a CK in a system
  • time zone n. an access control or alarm condition or authorization rendered at, and limited to, specific regularly occurring periods
  • timing mark n. a mark, usually center punched, on two separate gears or parts to identify correct alignment of those parts
  • turtle prep n. a door preparation using six smaller holes around the face bore, intended to provide for many cylindrical Lever Lock installation layouts, so named because it resembles a creature of the same name
  • ultrasonic motion detector n. a device which utilizes disturbances in sound patterns outside the audible range to determine movement in a protected area
  • valet cut n. a precut position of an automotive key blank, usually at the tip , that causes a properly cut key to operate only the ignition and door

We have also included a link to the 2019 Peer Review.

By |2019-08-07T09:00:40+00:00August 7th, 2019|All, Locksmith Terminology, Tools Update|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

Locksmith Terminology: Cores


core n. a complete unit, often with a “figure eight” shape, which usually consists of the plug, shell, tumblers, springs, plug retainer and spring cover(s). It is primarily used in removable and interchangeable core cylinders and locks.

Examples of cores.

Examples of cores.

Cores are very much like cylinders in that they are both complete operating units, containing a plug, shell, tumblers, springs, a plug retainer, and spring covers. Unlike cylinders, however, cores generally do not have a cam or tailpiece directly attached to them, although there are rare exceptions. Also unlike cylinders, cores are inserted either directly inserted into the lock, such as in the handle of a leverset, or into housings rather than screwed in or via use of a spring loaded, retaining pin.
housing n. that part of a locking device which is designed to hold a core
Examples of housings.

Examples of housings.

Housings are frequently described as either rim or mortise. Rim housings utilize tailpieces and interface with surface mounted hardware. Mortise housings utilize cams and interface with mortise locks.
The primary benefit of cores, as opposed to cylinders, is that they allow the user to remove the core from the lock or it’s housing by using a control key.
control key n. 1. a key whose only purpose is to remove and/or install an interchangeable or removable core 2. a bypass key used to operate and/or reset some combination type locks 3. a key which allows disassembly of some removable cylinder locks
A control key works by retracting the control lug, which then allows the core to be removed from either the lock or it’s housing.
control lug n. that part of an interchangeable or removable core-retaining device which locks the core into its housing
Control lugs on interchangeable cores.

Control lugs on interchangeable cores.

Control lugs are generally found above the core’s plug although different designs can place them elsewhere. A manufacturer’s design ultimately dictates the position and function of the control lug. Control keys either directly manipulate the control lug, such as lifting a special pin to engage it, or form a separate shearline to retract the control lug.

Core Types

There are two types of cores: removable cores and interchangeable cores.
removable core n. a key removable core which can only be installed in one type of cylinder housing; e.g., rim cylinder or mortise cylinder or key-in-knob lock

Sargent "Old Style" removable cores.

Sargent “Old Style” removable cores.

Sargent "Old Style" removable cores. Note the differences at the back of each core.

Sargent “Old Style” removable cores. Note the differences at the back of each core.

Perhaps the best examples of removable cores are the Sargent’s “Old Style” cores as well as their Keso/Keso F1 cores.
interchangeable core n. a key removable core which can be used in all or most of the core manufacturer’s product line. No tools (other than the control key) are required for removal of the core.
Examples of interchangeable cores.

Examples of interchangeable cores.

Popular examples of interchangeable cores include small format interchangeable cores, such as those manufactured by Best and Falcon.
A majority of the cores you are likely to encounter will be interchangeable cores. Whereas removable cores require specific housings for specific cores, interchangeable cores can be utilized in virtually all housings across a manufacturer’s product line. For example, if I wanted to move an interchangeable core from a rim housing into a mortise housing I could do so without changing any of the the hardware.

Interchangeable Core Types

There are two types of interchangeable cores: small format interchangeable cores and large format interchangeable cores.
Small Format Interchangeable Core n. an IC that replicates the functionality and design popularized by Best

Examples of small format interchangeable cores.

Examples of small format interchangeable cores.

You’ll often hear this type of core described as a “Best Core” or “I-Core” or , worst yet, “IC Core”. The latter term, “IC Core”, perhaps grind my gears more than anything in this industry because literally translated it means “Interchangeable Core Core”. Small format interchangeable core is a bit lengthy I’ll admit but in our shop, and many others across the nation, we simply use the abbreviation for it: SFIC.
SFIC abb. Small Format Interchangeable Core
Every other interchangeable core form factor is referred to as a large format interchangeable core.
Large Format Interchangeable Core n. an interchangeable core which is too large to fit into a small format interchangeable core housing
Examples of large format interchangeable cores.

Examples of large format interchangeable cores.

A number of manufacturers have produced their own version of interchangeable cores. These manufacturers include Corbin Russwin, Medeco, Sargent, Schlage, Yale. Like small format interchangeable cores, large format interchangeable cores can be abbreviated.
LFIC abb. Large Format Interchangeable Core
When describing a type of LFIC, the manufacturer’s name usually precedes the LFIC abbreviation. For example, if describing a core type for a job, most locksmiths will typically say “Corbin Russwin LFIC” or “Yale LFIC”.
One important note is that Schlage doesn’t refer to their large format interchangeable cores as LFICs. To Schlage, their large format interchangeable cores are known as FSIC, or full size interchangeable core. Since the LIST Council hasn’t recognized this term/definition yet, I will refrain from officially recognizing it. That said, for many years Schlage’s large format interchangeable core was simply referred to as Schlage LFIC and many still refer to it as that, present company included.

Locksmith Terminology: Pin Tumbler Cylinders


As I mentioned in last weeks Tyler’s Take, learning and utilizing proper locksmith terminology is very beneficial to locksmiths. This week we’re going to start our series of articles defining and illustrating locksmith terminology, in accordance with the LIST Council’s Professional LOCKSMITH Dictionary, with arguably one of the most popular items a locksmith will encounter: pin tumbler cylinders.
cylinder n. a complete operating unit which usually consists of the plug shell, tumblers, springs, plug retainer, a cam/tailpiece or other actuating device, and all other necessary operating parts

Examples of pin tumbler cylinders.

Cylinder Types

Pin tumbler cylinders come in multiple types. The most popular of these types are key-in-knob/key-in-lever, mortise, and rim.
key-in-knob cylinder n. a cylinder used in a key-in-knob lockset

A key-in-knob cylinder.

A key-in-knob cylinder.

Key-in-knob (KIK) cylinders are exactly what they sound like: the cylinders utilized by knobsets. Similar to the key-in-knob cylinder is the key-in-lever (KIL) cylinder. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, these are the cylinders utilized by leversets.  The largest difference between KIK and KIL cylinders is the orientation of the tailpiece at the back of the cylinder.
On KIK cylinders, when viewed from the face or rear of the cylinder, the tailpiece is generally positioned at 3 and 9 o’clock.
Tailpiece orientation on a key-in-knob cylinder.

Tailpiece orientation on a key-in-knob cylinder.

On KIL cylinders, the tailpiece is generally positioned at 6 and 12 o’clock.
Tailpiece orientation on a key-in-lever cylinder.

Tailpiece orientation on a key-in-lever cylinder.

The difference in tailpiece positions is due to how each cylinder is positioned within the lock. Knobsets allow the cylinder to be oriented parallel to the floor. Leversets, due to the shape/design of the levers, require the cylinder to be oriented perpendicular to the floor. As a result, a KIL cylinder’s tailpiece must change position by 90 degrees.
mortise cylinder n. a threaded cylinder typically used in mortise locks of American manufacture

A mortise cylinder. Note the threads on the cylinder.

Mortise cylinders are typically used for mortise locks but they can used for certain lock trim and other specialty hardware, such as key switches. Mortise cylinders are threaded, which makes them unique from other cylinder types. The threads allow the mortise cylinder to be physically screwed into the lock or whatever hardware is utilizing it.
There are different types of mortise cylinders, such as Mogul and peanut.

  1. Mogul cylinder n. a pin tumbler cylinder with a diameter of 2.0″, whose pins, springs, key, etc. may also be proportionally increased in size. It is frequently used in prison locks.
  2. peanut cylinder n. a mortise cylinder of 3/4″ diameter

The difference between the two, and standard mortise locks for that matter, is the diameter of the cylinder itself. Mogul cylinders have a 2″ diameter. As the Mogul definition states, Mogul cylinders are frequently used in prison and detention locks. Detention locks are very heavy duty and sized to match large cell doors, which largely explains their cylinder size. Peanut cylinders have a 3/4″ diameter and are typically used in special applications, such as mailbox locks. They aren’t as popular as they once were so you don’t see them much these days.
rim cylinder n. a cylinder typically used with surface applied locks and attached with a back plate and machine screws. It has a tailpiece to actuate the lock mechanism

A rim cylinder.

A rim cylinder.

Rim cylinders are typically used for rim mounted exit hardware, such as a panic devices. They are different from mortise cylinders for a few distinct reasons. First, they utilize a tailpiece to actuate the lock mechanism and not a cam. Second, they usually don’t contain threads (although some manufacturers are now threading them – presumably for production cost purposes). Third, they are secured into a door or lock mechanism through a back plate and two machine screws.
The back of a rim cylinder.

The back of a rim cylinder. Note the two screw holes.

Cylinder Components

As the cylinder definition implies, there are multiple components for a cylinder. These components are generally determined by the type of cylinder, such as a pin tumbler or even a wafer or high security. Since we are only concerned with a pin tumbler cylinder for this article, we will cover the cylinder components applicable to pin tumbler cylinders.
The first component listed in the cylinder definition is the shell, also commonly referred to as a cylinder shell.
shell n. the part of the cylinder which surrounds the plug and which usually contains tumbler chambers corresponding to those in the plug

Red arrow pointing to a mortise cylinder's shell.

Red arrow pointing to a mortise cylinder’s shell.

Within the shell is the plug.
plug n. the part of a cylinder which contains the keyway, with tumbler chambers usually corresponding to those in the cylinder shell

Cylinder plugs.

The plug of the cylinder is where the key is inserted; it contains the keyway, which determines what blanks are allowed to enter the plug. Plugs come in a variety of sizes (both length and diameter), finishes, and keyways to accommodate a wide range of needs. Despite these varieties, the function of the plug remains the same.
keyway n. 2. the exact cross sectional configuration of a keyway as viewed from the front. It is not necessarily the same as the key section.

Keyways in a plug.

Keyways are accomplished via wards within the plug.
ward n. a usually stationary obstruction in a lock or cylinder which prevents the entry and/or operation of an incorrect key
Distinct shapes and positions of wards within the plug create the keyway itself. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of keyways in existence.
Moving backwards a bit, portions of the plug/cylinder shell can also be defined:
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

Red arrow pointing to a KIK/KIL cylinder’s bible.

Bibles are generally considered to be the portion of a cylinder that is on top of the plug itself. As the definition states, this is the area which houses the pin chambers. The bible can be clearly seen on key-in-knob (KIK) and key-in-lever (KIL) cylinders but they also technically exist in mortise and rim cylinder types (more on those shortly).
chamber n. any cavity in a cylinder plug and/or shell which houses the tumblers
Chambers inside a shell.

Chambers inside a shell.

Chambers inside a plug.

Chambers inside a plug.

The chambers house the pin tumblers, and by extension the springs. In America, cylinders usually contain 5 or 6 chambers which correspond with 5 or 6 pin key blanks, respectively. Each chamber contains a pin tumblers (typically a bottom and top pin, although sometimes master pins) and a spring.
pin tumbler n. usually a cylindrical shaped tumbler. Three types are normally used: bottom pin, master pin and top pin.
Examples of pin tumblers.

Examples of pin tumblers.

While pin tumblers are often considered to only include bottom pins, they actually include master and top pins.

Cylinder Retainers

Cylinders must employ parts to secure the plug within the shell so that the plug does not come out when the key rotates it.  These parts are known as retainers.
retainer n. a component which is clipped, staked, or driven in place to maintain the working relationship of other components
The cylinder’s design and type ultimately determines the type of retainer used.
cap 2. n. a part which may serve as a plug retainer and/or a holder for the tailpiece

A cylinder cap.

Cylinder cap on a KIK/KIL cylinder.

Caps, as they relate to pin tumbler cylinders, generally screw on to either KIK/KIL and rim cylinders. They thread into the back of the plug and are held in place by a retainer pin.
retainer pin n. 1. a component seated on a spring, in the end of a plug, that interacts with a retainer cap to keep it in place. 2. Any non-threaded rod that maintains the relationship of two or more different parts.

Retainer pin on a KIK/KIL cylinder.

Cylinder clips, like caps, prevent the plug from being removed from the rest of the cylinder during normal operation. Unlike caps, however, cylinder clips snap into place rather than being screwed in.
cylinder clip n. a spring steel device used to secure some types of cylinders
Cylinder clip on a rim cylinder.

Cylinder clip on a rim cylinder.

Cylinder Actuators

In order to make use of a cylinder, we must find a way to transmit the motion of a turning plug so that a lock mechanism or door related hardware can utilize it. For cylinders, this is accomplished via actuators.
actuator n. a device, usually connected to a cylinder, which, when activated, may cause a lock mechanism to operate
On cylinders, the actuators come in two types: cam and tailpiece. The general rule of thumb, almost without exception, is that mortise cylinders utilize cams while KIK/KIL and rim cylinders utilize tailpieces.
cam n. 1. a lock or cylinder component which transfers the rotational motion of a key or cylinder plug to the bolt works of a lock

A mortise cylinder cam.

A mortise cylinder cam.

Mortise cylinders utilize cam actuators. These cams screw into the back of the plug. An added function of cams is that they also serve as cylinder retainers.
tailpiece n. an actuator attached to the rear of the cylinder, parallel to the plug, typically used on rim, key-in-knob or special application cylinders

Rim and KIK/KIL cylinder tailpieces.

There are a number of different tailpieces and the door hardware dictates the type used. For example, Schlage AL and ND series cylindrical leversets, while functionally very similar, utilize two different tailpieces.

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