We may recall times when we misplace the keys to our apartments or offices, leaving us stranded just outside of the apartment we needed to have entered. Often times, most people resort to breaking the locks with heavy equipments- say, chiseling the locks or employing the services of a welder to even take the whole door down by carefully disconnecting the door from its hinges. Doing this would incure extra financial responsibility for us, you know like you will need to pay the welder, for unhinging the door, then pay for him to fix it all up and then change the locks!. You don't want to spend all that money, do you?
What if I showed you a simple trick whereby you can create your master key, and open any type of special locks with the master key?
Well, before we hop right into that, we need to understand how the Master key works- technically, with more focus on the pin-and-tumbler designs.
The main components in the pin-and-tumbler design are a series of small pins of varying length. The pins are divided up into pairs. Each pair rests in a shaft running through the central cylinder plug and into the housing around the plug. Springs at the top of the shafts keep the pin pairs in position in the plug.
When no key is inserted, the bottom pin in each pair is completely inside the plug, while the upper pin is halfway in the plug and halfway in the housing. The position of the upper pins keeps the plug from turning -- the pins bind the plug to the housing.
When you insert a key, the series of notches in the key push the pin pairs up to different levels. The incorrect key will push the pins so that most of the top pins are still partly in the plug and partly in the housing. The correct key will push each pin pair up just enough so that the point where the two pins come together lines up perfectly with the space where the cylinder and the housing come together -- this point is called the shear line.
Some locks are designed to work with two different keys. The change key will open only that specific lock, while the master key will open that lock and several others in a group. In these locks, a few of the pin pairs are separated by a third pin. This third pin is called a master wafer or spacer.
When three pins are combined in a shaft, there are two ways to position the pins so they open the lock. The change key might raise the pins so that the shear line is just above the top of the master wafer, while the master key might raise the pins so the shear line is at the bottom of the master wafer. In both cases, there is a gap at the shear line and the key is able to turn.
In this lock design, the lowest pin is the same length in each lock in the group, but the master wafer varies in length. This lets the person with the master key access any lock in the group, while someone with a change key can open only his or her own lock.
For creating a Master key, special skill is required. Most times, we have to employ the services of a seasoned locksmith to help out with carrying out one of such important assignments. After all, it would be more convenient to have just one key to unlock all the doors in your apartment or office complex.
You may persuade your locksmith, during the period of the installation of your locks to ensure that he uses "twin locks" for all the doors. That way you will be able to use a single key to open all the locks, where the key could be nicknamed "MASTER"- amazing, isn't it?
To make a new key for an existing lock, you cut a series of notches in the key so that it raises each of the upper pins just above the shear line. Essentially, you cut a pattern in the metal that matches the pattern of the pins in the lock. To change a lock so that it fits an existing key, you simply work in the opposite direction: You change the pattern of the pins in the lock so that it matches the pattern of notches in the key. If the lock is designed with a universal keying system, any locksmith can re-key the lock in no time. You can also get locks re-keyed at most hardware stores.
In this basic six-pin lock set, you can see how this re-keying works. When you open up the shafts in the cylinder and empty them out, you have six springs and 12 tiny pins. All of the upper pins are exactly the same size. The remaining six pins (the lower pins) will be of various lengths to match up with the notches on the key.
The process of re-keying a lock is very simple. The locksmith removes all of the pins from the cylinder. Then, drawing from a collection of replacement pins of various sizes, the locksmith selects new lower pins that fit perfectly between the notches of the key and the shear line. This way, when you insert the new key, the lower pins will push all the upper pins just above the shear line, allowing the cylinder to turn freely. (This process may vary depending on the particular design of the lock.)
It doesn't matter how long the upper pins are (since they all rest above the shear line when the key is inserted), so the locksmith simply re-inserts the six original upper pins that came with the lock. And that's all there is to re-keying. The entire process takes only a few minutes.
Master Keys are an interesting technology somewhat related to lock picking (because they're means of getting past locks without the main key).
Some locks are designed to work with two different keys. The change key will open only that specific lock, while the master key will open that lock and several others in a group. In these locks, a few of the pin pairs are separated by a third pin called a master wafer or spacer.
When three pins are combined in a shaft, there are two ways to position the pins so they open the lock. The change key might raise the pins so that the shear line is just above the top of the master wafer, while the master key would raise the pins so the shear line is at the bottom of the master wafer. In both cases, there is a gap at the shear line and the key is able to turn.
In this lock design, the lowest pin would be the same length in each lock in the group, but the master wafer would vary in length. This lets one person, say a building manager, access many different locks, while each individual key-holder can open only his or her own lock.
With this simple, yet complex technology, you can now create master keys for your locks.
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