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How Do Master Keys Work?May 31, 2016

Have you ever wondered how master keys work? It has the amazing ability of being able to open more than one lock while there are several other different keys for individual locks. Plus, there are options of having a great grand master, grand master, master, and sub master keys depending on the chain of command of your establishment. As well, some companies opt for the basic master and sub-master keys.

How Do Basic Common Keys Work?

Although locks come with countless design options and in a variety of shapes and sizes, most locks are constructed on somewhat similar models. In fact, lock designs have not changed much since they were invented.

One of the most common designs is the cylinder lock. This type of design has a key that turns a plug or cylinder which turns an affixed cam. The cam is what does the latching. When the cylinder or plug is turned in one direction, the cam releases the bolt and a spring latches it into place so the door is unable to open. When the key is turned in the other direction, the cylinder pulls in on the bolt so that the door can open.

How Do Master Keys Work?

Some locks are designed to work with two entirely different keys. The ‘change’ key opens only a specific lock for that key. The ‘master’ key will open that specific lock and numerous others in that group. With this group of locks a few of the pin pairs are divided by a third pin. This third pin is what is referred to as a spacer or master wafer.

When there are three pins in a shaft, it provides two different ways to position the pins so they open the lock. A change key may lift the pins so that the shear line is merely above the top of the spacer or master wafer. Whereas, the master key may lift the pins so the shear line is at the bottom of the spacer or master wafer. In both positions, there is a space or gap at the shear line so the key can turn.

With this lock design, the lowest pin is the exact length in each lock of the group. However, the spacer or master wafer varies in the length. This allows the master key the ability to access any lock in the group. But with a change key, it can only open the specific individual lock.

Altona Locksmiths

15c Slough Road, Altona
Phone: (03) 9315 0522

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