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Grades of locks and levels of security.

Information about locks themselves. Questions, tips and lock diagram information should be posted here.

Moderators: zeke79, keysman

Grades of locks and levels of security.

Postby Varjeal » Wed Oct 22, 2003 1:27 pm

This post is a bit of a lesson in how locks are graded, and the level of security/quality that they provide...we'll start from the lowest and progress to highest.

Grade 3: Grade three locks are the lowest quality locks allowed by UL, CSA, ASA, etc. certified to be used on doors of any kind. They use the lowest acceptable quality of fit, finish, and operation. If they have been tested by UL or ULC (Underwriter's Laboratory, the "c" being the Canadian version, I'm sure there's a European version as well) they will have been tested for (please don't quote me on the exact numbers, I don't recall) 80,000 openings minimum to receive this rating. They do not need to offer pick resistance, fire resistance, or resistance against physical attack. These are most often found on residential homes and buildings with extremely low security risks. Of course, because of the lack of features, they are also the least expensive.

Grade 2: Grade two locks are tested for double the number of openings that a grade three lock must past. Their materials, fit, finish, and operation, must meet certain standards and pass particular tests. They must have some resistance against physical attack, and fire resistance. Their tolerances in all aspects of the various parts thus requires better equipment to manufacture, thus making them more expensive.
They are not required to offer professional manipulation resistance. These locks are often found on commercial applications and residential applications with security issues or on residences where occupants demand higher than normal quality hardware.

Grade 1: Tested for double the number of openings of a grade two lock, these locks have the highest levels, of fit, finish and operation. Few, if any parts in this level of hardware are made of plastic. Often these locks have built in (not necessarily anything to do with the cylinder) features to resist manipulation and/or physical attack.

Now that we've discussed grades of locks, let's talk security, which can be vastly different from the actual grade of the lock.

There are basically three levels of security when it comes to cylinders:

1. Low Security. These locking cylinders can be found in any of the three grades of locks mentioned earlier. These cylinders offer no pick or drill resistance. Often they use wide or sloppy keyways deisgned to allow users the convenience and ease of inserting their key. Plug to shell tolerance is acceptable enough to allow smooth operation. May vary from .003 to .010 gap between plug and shell.

2. Medium Security. These locking cylinders can also be found in any of the three grades of locks mentioned earlier. These cylinders may offer pick resistance in the form of serrated, mushroom, or spool pins/wafers/drivers, and have tighter plug to shell tolerances. Often on medium security cylinders they will have tighter or complex keyways, and may use more than the standard 5 pin/wafer combination. Maximum of .005 gap between plug and shell.

3. High Security. These locking cylinders will ONLY be found in Grade 2 or 1 Locks. By design they offer pick resistance through various means, such as non paracentric keyways, stainless steel pins/wafers, split wafers, sidebars, use of exotic materials such as magnets, patented configurations like biaxial, multiple rows of pins/wafers, etc. They will also offer drill resistance through hardened inserts located in strategic locations, limited access to keyblanks, and other devices. These locking cylinders, to be deemed "high security" must also meet UL437 parameters.

I hope this helps all of you when discussing locks, to take into account both the grade or quality of the locking mechanism, as well as the level of security that the locking cylinder provides.

As always, I hope this helps.
*insert witty comment here*
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Blank keys

Postby Chubby » Wed Oct 22, 2003 8:27 pm

Varjeal, is it possible for a member of the public to buy blank keys from a key supplier or locksmith, ie:are you for example as a locksmith bound by law not to supply key blanks, or would you decline on the basis of proffesional ethics, the reason I am asking is I am at present reading a file on key impressioning and there is no reference to the above, as you no doubt know impressioning is very effective but unless I am able to practice I will never have the opportunity to find out...
Thanks before hand for your collaboration.
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Postby Varjeal » Wed Oct 22, 2003 11:11 pm

Chubby: I think that's almost the toughest question I've had to answer in here so far. The short answer is yes, you should be able to provide keys from a key supplier.

However, I will add this. Most key suppliers will require that you have a business license to purchase. Secondly, some, and definitely not all locksmiths will be hesitant to sell blanks (especially if they have their business stamped on them).

I, personally, am undecided on the issue, and couldn't imagine why you couldn't buy them from a hardware store except that they would charge a lot.

I'm going to give this some thought, but if you want to pm with some arguments why I should I'll take them into consideration.

I know that's not much of an answer, but it's not an issue I've really thought about much up 'till now...

thanks for the post.
*insert witty comment here*
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Postby Chubby » Wed Oct 22, 2003 11:36 pm

Unfortunatley 'las Ferreterias' hardware shops in spain don't have anything to do with keys in particular, for that you go to a 'Cerrajeria' more or less a 'Mister Minut'.I can buy locks & safes from the hardware stores but if you want keys you have to go to a key shop it's the only way, that's what I love about being able to shop on the internet you have more than one option. I shall ask at the keyshop, but in spain you can be told by an official 'No way Jose!' in the morning and 'Yes,but of course Sir' in the afternoon by the same person...
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Postby Chubby » Thu Oct 23, 2003 10:06 am

Just to let you know, I asked at a key maker if they sell blanks and the assistant looked at the owner and both simultaneously burst into laughter.... :oops: and replied 'yes of course'...... :shock:
Support your local locksmith -- lose a key. Support your local institutional locksmith -- lose a master key.
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Postby Varjeal » Thu Oct 23, 2003 11:41 am

Hehehe...yeah, that's kinda of like going into a locksmith shop and asking if they cut keys or sell locks...

Anyways, are there particular key blanks that you're looking for?
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Postby Chubby » Thu Oct 23, 2003 7:31 pm

I just wanted to try and make impressions of the locks that I am having problems picking, I have one that I have bought which has a long 3 pin making it almost impossible to manipulate pins 1 & 2 without binding or false setting 3, and an amigo has a number of dimple lock cylinders and in particular a safe with dual dimple locks which must be opened in sync which I would like to spend some time with...
Support your local locksmith -- lose a key. Support your local institutional locksmith -- lose a master key.
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Postby Varjeal » Fri Oct 24, 2003 1:09 am

That sounds cool. Keep us posted, and get some pics so we can see what it looks like!
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