Cylinder locks – Cylinder locks are perhaps the most well known of the three main mechanical lock systems, with the most common of these being the cylinder rim lock. These are commonly found in main doors and are often referred to as Yale lock (though this is actually the name of a particular manufacturer, much as the term Hoover has been adopted to describe all vacuum cleaners). The cylinder in question provides the chamber into which the key is inserted wherein a selection of pins will be organized to prevent it twisting and unfastening the latch. The purpose of the key then is to push these pins out of the way so that the cylinder is no longer held in place. A typical five pin cylinder can provide up to 100,000 variations. A locksmith or professional lock picker can perform this task manually to open the door.
Lever locks – Another of the three mechanical types of door lock and also widely used, lever locks can be found in abundance at most locksmiths. The most commonly used variation is the five lever lock mortice deadbolt lock which are now often found in doors to homes and commercial buildings. The key for a lever lock has a long neck with the end coming off at a right angle at the very end to be inserted pointing downwards, whereas the cylinder lock uses the smaller and more common round keys with the pattern coming straight out. This way you can determine whether your lock uses a cylinder or lever mechanism simply by inspecting the key.
Warded locks – Warded locks are one of the oldest lock designs and have been used by many a locksmith for centuries. The appearance of the keys for a warded lock is similar to that of the lever lock, except the end or ‘blade’ is not so close to the end of the key. This is the design of most ornate or antique keys and is most commonly used for gates and cupboards as well as large doors for churches and monasteries (for this reason they are sometimes also referred to as ‘church keys’). These keys utilize different shaped locks to ensure that only the right key fits, but only provide a few possible variations making them more of a deterrent than a serious security option.
Digital locks – As technology advances so the art of the locksmith must evolve. Today digital locks are becoming more and more common as they can’t be picked or overridden by skeleton keys and are particularly useful for buildings that require many people to enter on a regular basis. These use a computer that requires input from a key card or number pad before it will give the user access. In some cases these can even utilize a remote activation system, voice verification or iris or fingerprint scan. While these systems are immune to lock picking they are more susceptible to other forms of attack such as short circuiting and hacking, and are unnecessarily complex and high maintenance for most family homes.