Northland Locksmith St. Paul Locksmith Service Mon, 23 Jul 2018 22:32:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Northland Locksmith 32 32 Easy, 1 Time, Deadbolt Self-check Sat, 12 Aug 2017 04:38:58 +0000 Easy, One time, Deadbolt self-check Make sure your locks are providing maximum security for your family The most important locks...

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Easy, One time, Deadbolt self-check

Make sure your locks are providing maximum security for your family

The most important locks on a home are normally the the bolt locks. Deadbolts give doors better resistance to forced entry, but they only provide that resistance when installed correctly. Deadbolts are simple locks, it’s easy to make sure yours is installed properly. If  your deadbolt fails any part of this checklist I will show you what to do.

Why is this important?

Deadbolts provide resistance to forced entry. Compared to deadbolts, knobs and levers provide very little resistance to forced entry. Most of us depend on one or more deadbolts to be our main line of defense to forced entry. We rely on them to discourage would be criminals looking for a fast pay day, and allow us peace of mind at night. If your deadbolt is not installed correctly it will not work correctly.

How likely is my deadbolt to need a slight adjustment?

It’s very likely your deadbolt could use a little TLC. I would about half the deadbolts I see in customer’s homes are lacking the most important

Let’s get started.

Gather a the correct screw drivers and a flash light

First lets look at your strike plate, here is an example of a strike that was not reinforced correctly, the small screw used was not sufficient to protect this door from being easily forced open. Imagine depending on two small screws to keep your front door from being forced open… maybe you already are. Hopefully you never need long screws to go to work for you, but if the day came you would appreciate them. Short screw are common, toss them out if you find them. We will check the bolt is allowed to fully extend when locked in part 2. Part 3 will help you check a few last details.

Deadbolt Strike Plate Screws
This was one of two screws held the deadbolt strike plate to the door jamb. This length screw is a weak link you can easily remove. Replace them with longer screws.
  1. Check to see if your strike plate is securely screwed in correctly:
    • How long are the screws that currently secure it to the door jamb? They should be about 3″ (three inches) unless a window prevents the use of screws that length. Don’t run oversized screws into any window you might have!
    • Good exapmle 3″ screws
      • Check that your screws run into a stud. Just like hanging up a mirror on a wall, screwing into a stud makes a stronger hold
      • Install long screws or how to install large screws
      • If need be you can angle you screw towards the stud though it can become complicated it is necessary.
      • angle drilled strike plate
        This is the security strike plate that Schlage provides it’s customers. This frame was set back from the wall so it was necessary to install the security screws at a angle to hit the stud.


  2. Inspect your bolt with the door open, throw the bolt forward and note how far the thumb turn rotates when the bolt is extended. Next close the door and ensure your bolt throws completely. If it is not it may be pushed back easily to the unlocked position. You can try that with the door open if you want to see for yourself.
bolt is fully thrown, so we can get a look at where the thumb turn should stop


When the door is shut we can see the bolt is again fully thrown


3. Ensure all bolts and screws are tightened down. On a wood door you can tighten main bolts down as tight as possible, but on a steel or fiberglass door only tighten until very snug with a screwdriver. Steel and fiber glass doors will simply get crushed by over tightening of the main bolts which secure the front and back of lock together. the smaller the screw the more gentle you should expect to tighten them. Next lubricate your lock with a thin bottled or aerosol Teflon lubricant. Check your keys and thumb turn to make sure they still work.

Your deadbolt is good for years to come when complete.






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Electronic Push Button Deadbolts Fri, 21 Jul 2017 04:21:24 +0000 Electronic Deadbolts What electronic deadbolts are available to choose from? When choosing one is price the best indication of quality?Do...

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Electronic Deadbolts

What electronic deadbolts are available to choose from? When choosing one is price the best indication of quality?Do electronic deadbolts increase your home security, or are they just for convenience?  Do any of these ultra convenient locks fail to provide adequate resistance to forced entry? We will look past the lower end of the market, and focus on the “higher end” locks. $99.00 and up. There is no sure winner, but there are different locks to match different priorities.

Kwikset – The fluke. One sure loser.

Lets hit the worst first. In our opinion, as locksmiths, we have one clear loser here. Kwikset markets it’s Smartkey technology as extra secure. On Kwikset’s website they boast “advanced smart key technology – enhanced protection against lock-picking and lock-bumping.” Kwikset Smartkey lock cylinders operate differently then traditional lock cylinders, so for that reason Kwikset is using misleading marketing tactics. They are hard to pick and bump because those techniques are for traditional lock cylinders. When I show up to unlock a home with a Smartkey lock, I force them open with ease. Kwikset Smartkey cylinders can be forcibly rotated from locked to unlock with brute force and a small amount of knowledge. All of Kwikset’s electronic deadbolts use the flawed smartkey technology, so for that reason we have to disqualify them all from the race today. If you have a Smart key lock on your home we encourage you to replace it.

I prefer any deadbolt in working order above a Kwikset Smartkey lock including Kwikset’s basic $12.00 Deadbolt. Smartkey technology is innovative, and whoever designed that ought to be proud. Unfortunately for consumers Kwikset has to use weak materials to afford to manufacture such a complicated lock at such a low price. It’s really a shame so many people have these on there homes. I think they should be sold on the same shelf as shake-weights, & sauna pants.

Schlage – The real smart lock.

Schlage is the next big box store competitor, and for the money they are a great value. I know first hand the push button locks are great. They cost around $100, and are available at most hardware stores. My push button Schlage lever seems very durable, & the 9 volt battery it uses has probably served 3.5 years now but needs replacement. Schlage has a touch screen model which starts around $120 it certainly looks nice, but I am not sure if it is as reliable as the push button.

Added convenience, but for the money we say hide a key. No added security in comparison to a standard Schlage Deadbolt.


Schlage has a interesting lock at the starting at the $150.00 mark, and it becomes a powerful tool when combined with other smart home technologies. Look for Schlage’s z-wave/connect technology. One example, when combined with a $100/yr “nexia”account you can see who is coming and going, and eliminate or allow access from your phone. I can see parents appreciating the features smart home technology creates. The access control you gain is a powerful security improvement.  As a stand alone unit without additional smart home technology we still say hide a key.

If you are interested in other smart home technology in addition to an electronic deadbolt Schlage will likely be a clear winner.

Schlage locks are now more difficult to pick and bump because of added security pins within the lock cylinder. Schlage locks come with quality security strike plates, but normally people neglect to install them. If you purchase a Schlage deadbolt we encourage you to have the security strike plate properly installed.

The Arrow “Revolution V2” – Sleek & Simple – Assa Abloy

Arrow has a nice looking touchscreen electronic deadbolt, but it lacks the smart home integration features of Schlage’s model at the same price point. If your looking for a sleek little electronic deadbolt you may like the Arrow revolution. At $200 its a still a decent value.  It has a few unique features but they are geared towards light commercial use. The extra electronic features it has are not very applicable in residential setting. I have a feeling it is probably the easiest to program.

Locksmith Woodbury
Need a door Drilled to add a deadbolt? Saint Paul Locksmith Service is available 24 hours

The Revolution v2 can store 24 user codes, the ability to remove specific user codes makes access control convenient if you have access to the lock. Arrow has been around for a long time, and has a reputation for producing quality hardware.

Yale- Real Living Touchscreen- Basically the Arrow V2 – Assa Abloy

Yale, like Arrow above are both owned by Assa Abloy, a monolithic lock company that has bought up more than its fair share of small lock companies. To me it looks like they Assa reserved the Arrow version to lockmiths, and the Yale to big box stores. Yale is just a different brand. I imagine they are extremely similar. The Yale Real Living Touch Screen sits around $140. At that price its a great value assuming you don’t want to integrate it with smart home products. I haven’t seen the Arrow and Yale next to each other, so I can’t say for sure if one is built better.

Saint Paul Locksmith
Saint Paul Deadbolt install Service Available

Yale and Arrow are both owned by Assa Abloy. The two deadbolts appear nearly identical. Yale would come in cheaper than arrow making it the better choice.


Emtec products- Assa Abloy with style

Assa Abloy also has a line of electronic deadbolts that tend to be more basic in function, but offer a variety of styles.  From traditional to modern I think anyone could find something they like. Definitely worth a look. These sit between $150-$200.  

Pretty strait forward again from Assa Abloy, simple locks with many different styles, the Emtec line of products has more styles to choose from with less available options. No additional security added just the convenience of a key-less entry.

Baldwin- High-end. High Fashion.

Enter the Baldwin (starting model) Entry Single Cylinder Electronic Deadbolt. At $300 I think it is over priced. The Baldwin lock lacks advanced features. They have a quite few different models, you may consider looking through them. Normally Baldwin offers plenty of style options. Baldwin makes higher-end door hardware with a strong focus on style. They produce some of the most beautiful hardware available, but if you want to go Baldwin you don’t see the payoff until you get into their highest end hardware $500 to $1000. Baldwin is very much form over function. The lock cylinders that come standard with Baldwin hardware are reliable, but nothing special. For the money the locks could be nicer. Order your Balwin hardware from us, we sell it, and install it. Most Baldwin hardware will accept high security cylinder upgrades for those who demand form AND function.

Residential Locksmith Saint paul
This is one of the higher end key-less handle-sets they make. Northland locksmith sells and installs these.

Baldwin has very attractive key-less hardware & key-less handle-sets, Baldwin is a industry leader who focuses on high fashion.  Call us for pricing on Baldwin hardware, and ask about incorporating high security locks.

Master Lock – Night Watch Deadbolt -No Go

Master lock is branching into residential locks with some success. I recently had a conversation with a local Master Lock sales rep and he mentioned they had hired a few former Schlage employees. Master Lock is growing into residential sector well, but I don’t see the product quality dialed in just  yet. Last year they made a grade 1 deadbolt that was a pain to install due to a design oversight which has since been remedied. They are moving into the residential market nicely today, but this deadbolt is from a previous era. From looking at owner reviews the Night Latch lock isn’t very reliable. One lockout and your investment is a bust. This lock is fighting out of its weight class a little bit, but Master has had years to put up a competitive model and haven’t. I think the night watch sells because it’s the cheapest name brand electric deadbolt on the market.

Master lock’s deadbolt is known to fail too often.

I don’t want to bash Master Lock too much, but they have some work to do to compete with Schlage and Assa Abloy Products. I would be surprised if they didn’t introduce something new to compete soon. Master Lock has been showing an effort to provide quality affordable residential locks. They just don’t have a great electronic deadbolt yet.


You decide if they are worth the money. If your not impressed you still have a few options…

We have yet to touch on “smart locks” they tend to have no key, built specifically to operate as stand-alone units that communicate with your smart phone right out of the box. You can expect a post on Smart locks to come soon.

We suggest you also consider high security deadbolts before committing to a push button deadbolt or smart lock.  A high security deadbolt offers maximum resistance to forced entry, it offers decades of reliable use, many models offer total key control by restricting the key blanks, and they are virtually impossible to pick or bump. A post on High Security locks will be added soon.








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The cheapest way to add home security Fri, 16 Dec 2016 19:12:40 +0000 One of the cheapest ways to improve the physical security of your home is to ensure your strike plate is...

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One of the cheapest ways to improve the physical security of your home is to ensure your strike plate is screwed into your door frame. The strike plate is the piece of metal inside the doorway on the door jamb which receives the bolt. The only major difference between a weak strike plate, and a strong strike plate is the length of the screws. You’ll need 3″ screws to connect the strike plate to the door frame. With out long screws, the door can be easily forced open. Here are two examples of good strike plates.

These are what you want – long screws that bite into the door frame. (shown above)

Below is an example of the screws most people have. These screws are just long enough to hold the strike plate to the trim. They really don’t do much else. All you need to do is switch out short screws for longer ones.

An example of a bad strike plate

When you go to swap out your screws for longer ones, you will want to prep the holes for bigger screws. This will make it less likely you split the wood you’re drilling into. Pick a drill bit that is just a little more narrow than your screw (not thicker, or it won’t work). Then drill the depth of the new screw. The correct size bit depends on the screw you have. The way you know you have the right one is to put them on top of each other, the screw behind the bit. The correct drill bit will conceal the shaft of the screw but leave the threads exposed. Here is an example:


The screw is under the drill bit in this picture. You can see that the drill bit matches the thickness of the screw’s shaft, but at the same time leaves the threads of the screw exposed. Picking the right size drill bit is important.

So here is the process:

  1. Remove short screws
  2. Pick long screws (3″ long is about right)
  3. Match the correct drill bit to your new long screws
  4. Drill the holes in the door jamb to the new deeper depth
  5. Re-install the strike plate with the longer screws


That’s all! Thank you for reading and good luck!

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Transponder Keys Wed, 14 Dec 2016 03:01:44 +0000 Since about 1999, most automotive manufactures began to incorporate transponders into car keys. The purpose of these “chip-keys” is to...

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Since about 1999, most automotive manufactures began to incorporate transponders into car keys. The purpose of these “chip-keys” is to add security to your investment, and lower the cost of automotive insurance. Most people are unaware that transponders are embedded inside the heads of their car keys.

How do they work?

When you turn your car on, it first checks to make sure the key is a digital match. In most vehicles, transponder readers are fixed directly to the ignition. Transponders do not require battery, however they must be within an inch or two of the transponder reader. The transponder reader sends a challenge message to the car key and if it reads the key as a good key, the car will start. Your local locksmith is often the best person to see about having additional keys added. Keys can usually be removed from memory as well as added, this is helpful if you have had your keys lost or stolen.


This is a uncut  Ford Transponder key with a clear head, you can see the transponder inside.


We recommend having at least one spare transponder key. Losing your last key is much more expensive than getting a spare ahead of time.


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Safe Cracking “By Feel” Fri, 09 Dec 2016 06:17:48 +0000 Safe Cracking “By Feel”| Safe Lock Manipulation Safe lock manipulation has intrigued people for generations. It’s been shown in Hollywood...

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Safe Cracking “By Feel”| Safe Lock Manipulation

Safe lock manipulation has intrigued people for generations. It’s been shown in Hollywood spy movies, and has surely been used by real spies. It leaves no trace, causes no damage, and is virtually silent. Many have tried it, but few have tried enough to find success at it.

What is Safe Lock Manipulation?

Safe lock manipulation is the art of opening a safe with nothing but the dial and your finger tips. An experienced safe technician may be skilled at safe lock manipulation, but few Locksmiths today have devoted the time to learn this skill. Today many safe owners opt for electronic safe locks rendering manipulation useless for a far greater percentage of service calls. Most quality mechanical safe dials can be manipulated.

How does it work?

The dial is used to measure slight changes within a mechanical safe lock. Machine error, or lack of perfection rather, permit a exploitable environment for a well practiced technician to feel out. Manufacturer machine error is minimal, as is the feedback these errors create. Technicians must properly collect and interpret this data with exactness. Locksmiths use the lock against itself to defeat it, our side of  the steel box allows us the dial.

The dial is the only tool needed, it’s connected to the lock within by the “spindle.” When a person turns a safe dial and pays attention to how the dial feels, they will notice slight ticks, drag, and other inconsistencies. To crack a safe you only need to understand how the lock works and pay attention to the clues the lock gives you. Any feedback the dial delivers has value, and helps a skilled manipulator map the unseen.

In other words, we systematically (organized and efficiently) pull data  dial, this data comes to the operator by feel. Manipulation above all else requires extreme consistency, that’s what makes is an art. Each technician must develop their own unique technique to accomplish complete consistency.

What is it like to actually do it?

Stand-alone manipulation is a tedious task, but learning manipulation is a extremely tedious task. You have to concentrate for extend period of time, you focus is on the slightest bumps and ticks, and your eyes strain to see the slightest changes. You can’t do it halfheartedly, I find I have better odds when I limit myself to very short and infrequent breaks. You have to be consistent so limit any variables necessary. Personally, it was 18 months before I opened a single practice lock (a real lock mounted on a piece plastic). I was self taught with some access to privileged literature, and practiced on and off taking breaks when I got bored of failing. Each time after failing to open a lock I would peak at the combination and try to analyze where and why I was mislead. Until one evening I finally cracked one, it was well deserved and still feels good every time.

This was taken a few moments after my first successful attempt. A practice lock, and
a few final bits of data continued from the previous page

A average safe technician might manipulate a safe lock in 45 minutes or less. A technician’s speed  and consistency greatly depend on their ability to make accurate intuitive decisions. Mistakes cost you time, but so does failure to take risks. Masters of lock manipulation know immediately when they have found a number, and quickly progress towards completion without wasting any time. Their are annual national and international Safe Lock Manipulation contests, so technically some one somewhere is officially the world’s best safe-cracker.

Who is the best safe-cracker in the world?

Jeff Sitar.

If this interests you I suggest watching this, Jeff Sitar is a world champion safe cracker.






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Residential locks + Schlage vs. Kwikset Thu, 01 Dec 2016 05:39:00 +0000 Schlage vs Kwikset Which lock is better and why? When shopping at your local hardware store for new locks you...

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Schlage vs Kwikset

Which lock is better and why?

When shopping at your local hardware store for new locks you will find two brands seem to reign supreme on the shelves. Schlage and Kwikset both offer different styles of locks, and those styles in multiple finishes and functions. Avoid Kwikset “Smart Key” locks all together, they can be forced to turn with simple brute force. Avoid Schlage’s “Dexter” locks, they are cheaper but for your money Schlage’s standard line is worth paying a little extra for.

Kwikset vs Schlage | Standard deadbolts side by side comparison

Photo Comparisons

Schlage bolt is harder and thicker, it also extends further back into it’s casing. The Schlage bolt is longer as well.

Kwikset bolt left. Schlage bolt right.
Schlage bolt top. Kwikset bolt Bottom.

Kwikset is missing something…

Schlage has a shield on the back of the lock that keeps it from being hammered down or off of the door. The Kwikset lock is lighter and softer, while the Schlage lock has anti-drill pins.

Kwikset, outside facing half of lock.
Schlage outside facing half of lock.
Schlage on the right weighs about twice as much. It makes the Kwikset look hollow.
Schlage’s lock (on left) fully fills out the holes bored in your door. the Kwikset looks the same from the outside but you can see here there is less mass to fight through.

Everything about Schalge is longer, thicker or harder. They use anti-pick spool top-pins, and steel anti drill pins.

Schlage locks are harder to force open, pick, and bump.

*Among your standard choices you may see Kwikset locks with “smart-key” technology, avoid them like the plague. The lock cylinders in these locks are actually plastic, yes, plastic. I have personally opened homes with smart key locks, since they  can’t be picked they must be forced. I use a hammer and a flat head screw driver to force it them to turn. It takes 20 seconds.






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Unlock Your Steering Column Wed, 30 Nov 2016 06:11:41 +0000 What do you do when your key will no longer turn in your ignition?

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One common call locksmiths often field is “my steering wheel is locked and my key wont turn.” If your steering wheel is locked your ignition may not be broken. Your problem might actually just be that your steering wheel is locked up and stopping the ignition from turning. We get this call all the time, try this before you call anyone. Good Luck!

How to release the steering column lock

  1. Fully insert the correct key into the ignition
  2. Check car is in “Park”
  3. With one hand turn the steering wheel against the spring pressure and hold it in place.
  4. With your free hand turn your key
  5. If it doesn’t work you can try once more while pulling the wheel harder, and/or turn the wheel the other direction.
  6. If it still fails you likely have another problem
locked steering column
Often turning your wheel firmly will relieve pressure on the ignition switch. Try pulling against the spring first, turning the wheel as far as you can. You may try turning the wheel the opposite way as well after if unsuccessful.

What is the column lock for?

The steering wheel lock is a anti-theft device that prevents a thief from simply “hot-wiring” you car and driving away. Instead of just using the electronic switch screwed to the back of the ignition, a thief is forced to defeat the ignition. Your car wont steer until the ignition cylinder is turned, when your ignition is turned it retracts the lock bolt that locks your steering wheel.

My steering wheel has never locked up before, why now?

Parking differently is the only common reason I’ve heard of.  If the weigh of your vehicle wants to turn your wheels a little bit because of how you parked (maybe on a hill) than some of the vehicles weight is binding the steering wheel lock bolt to the lock plate it rest in. The steering wheel lock bolt is trapped by the weight. Pulling the wheel removes enough of that pressure to permit the lock to turn.

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Broken and worn keys Wed, 30 Nov 2016 05:36:02 +0000 Locksmiths can often decode your worn keys and cut you "like new" keys. Improving lock function and reliability

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Broken & Worn Keys

Don’t worry, a broken key is better than no key.

Locksmiths can help you sort out many different related issues. We use keys everyday at home, at work, and for our vehicles. We seldom expect them to break or notice their slow wear, but they do break and wear. What can happen, and what can you do about it?

We will start with the most popular problems and move through to the most unfortunate circumstances

Broken Key
The position of the break determines the difficulty. The closer to the tip the harder the job.
  1. Bad Copies – This is the number one problem people have with keys. Hands down. If you’re having problems with a lock check that your key is a good copy.
    • Try both sides if the key double sided
    • Try other copies of key
    • Lubricate the Lock, a thin Teflon base lube is best. Note freezing temperature of lube if applicable.
    • Don’t try to force the key – It will make things worse.
      • Extra force can damage internal lock parts, it can destroy lock function & add costs. Stay gentle.
    • Light jiggling + Gentle turning tension, lube increases your odds – Try both sides
      • Be persistent & gentle, cycle though different techniques and stay lubed.
    • The “spacing” may be off. Slide the key out in tiny increments, try turning lock each time – Try both sides
    • Have a locksmith Decode your bad copy and Re-cut your key by the specific lock manufacturer standards.
  2. Bent & Twisted Keys
    • Bent it back to normal
      • This makes keys weak, use with caution.
      • Apply lube to the Lock
      • Light jiggling + Gentle turning tension, lube increases your odds – Try both sides if double sided key
      • Bending internal lock parts can destroy lock function & add costs. Stay gentle.
    • Bring your key to a locksmith and have a new key cut. A locksmith can normally decode and Re-cut any keys too poor to copy.
  3. Worn Keys
    • Lubricate your lock
    • These keys may bend easily
    • Light jiggling + Gentle turning tension, lube increases your odds – Try both sides if double sided key
    • Worn keys can normally be decoded and re-cut by a Locksmith
      • Replacement transponder keys will require programming. Consult a Locksmith.

        Rotated Locks Cylinder
        When a lock cylinder is turned away from its normal resting position keys cannot be inserted or removed.
    • Not bending your key is your main focus.
      • Be persistent, lubricate regularly, remain gentle
  4. Broken Keys – Outside and Inside of Locks
    • Do NOT put pieces into a lock unless you absolutely need to (stuck in the desert). If you try this it likely fail, but you have one shot.
      • Unless you have no other option don’t do this.. EMERGENCY USE ONLY
      • This isn’t likely to work, and will cost over $100 to have removed
        • Lubricate lock if possible
        • Correctly face both pieces in their original directions, look at the breaking point of each piece and fit them back together.
        • Plan to insert pieces with them both facing original directions so they may fit together better
        • Insert tip piece partially

          Lock in normal position.
          The key-way must be in the correct position for a key, or piece of a key to be removed.
        • Use the 2nd piece to push the 1st
        • Any gap between pieces may cause failure
        • Pushing a broken piece in too deep may cause failure.
        • Fully seat key and turn
    • Hire a locksmith, discuss your particular situation with them.
      • Some jobs will need to be done on loction.
      • Some keys can be cut in shop very easily
      • Transponder keys require programming
    • Key extraction can be difficult, and requires some specific knowledge.
      • The correct tools are extremely advantageous, but even proper tools this can be difficult.
        • Vice-grips
        • “Key Extractors” various sizes
        • Lock picks (hook and half diamond)
        • Lube
        • Flashlight
        • Needle nose pliers
      • Pins and wafers inside of the lock are under spring pressure so the rest on your key.
        • These parts can trap broken key pieces inside of key-ways,  simply push them aside while extracting the key.
      • The lock must be turned to a position where the key can be removed.
        • You’re re-locking the lock when you do this. Turning the lock back will likely disallow any further lock rotation until the key is extracted. This must be done eventually to remove the key, but the advantages of a turned ignition cylinder may cause you to pause for thought, should you drive it elsewhere before you turn the cylinder back? You will need to extract the key and acquire a spare key to operate the lock again after you turn it back.
          • Ignition keys are inserted and removed in the “Off” position only. Turning the ignition to “Off” will re-lock it. It needs to turn if you want to remove the ignition switch or start the car. Mind the transponder’s proximity when starting newer cars with damaged keys. Keep the head of the key near its usual position. Nissan transponders are directional, they must point toward the ignition switch from the regular angle.
          • Is your car parked somewhere it can stay until you resolve your lock problem?
          • Consider calling a locksmith before advancing
      • Deadbolt, levers, and knobs present their own complications.
        • Levers and knobs should be left turned when possible.
          • Disassemble lock, until you can push key through back of key way or remove cylinder plug.
      • Fishing for the broken piece may cause damage, use caution.
Key Extraction
To pull this out I had to drill a tiny hole in the key. I couldn’t fit a tool in the key-way to pull the key otherwise.


*I refer to “double sided keys” as a possibility, not every key has two sides
*lubricant recommended is Teflon based lube – check freezing point of any lube when applicable- apply generously


Further acknowledgements

Your key might be functional, your lock could be broken. Some locks may have extra complications, you may have a recently bent key as well as a locked steering column. Remain open-mined and consider other less obvious variables. Any key that isn’t a good key poses a threat to a lock. The parts inside of locks are often small thin brass wafers. These can be bent with a slight amount extra force. I have been frustrated by these types of issues before and tried to force locks, trust me it doesn’t work. Use a good lubricant, I recommend a thin Teflon bases lubricant applied generously. Be persistent and patient, as long as you don’t attempt to force the lock you can continue to try with confidence. Once you have crossed the line and tried to turn the lock too hard there is no way to tell if you have damaged the lock or if you just haven’t gotten lucky yet. Use a lot of lube if you need to.


Good luck to anyone struggling with a lock at the moment.


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What’s a Master Key System? Wed, 30 Nov 2016 05:23:06 +0000 Many of my customers have no idea what a master key systems are and I think more people would benefit from them if they knew how they worked.

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What is a Master Key?

A master key is a key which opens  each lock within that specific system. Many people share the misconception that a master-key is a key that can open all or many locks solely by its own design. A master key is created by the locksmith who fits the locks to a desired system, it is done with much purpose.

Your key will open your door. So will your landlord’s master key! But your key won’t open your neighbor’s door… but the master key will! In a set-up like an apartment building, each door is keyed differently so your neighbors can’t get into your apartment, however the landlord has a “master key” that will open every door in the building. This is convenient for the landlord, as now they only have one key to keep track of, rather than many.

A master key is created when a locksmith fits pin-tumble style locks to multiple keys allowing the master key to remain constant throughout the system. We fit multiple keys to multiple locks by adding in additional master-pins creating multiple shear-lines for the lock to turn at. The purpose of this is often to simply life for people who require access to all or multiple parts of a building when at the same time others need to have more restricted access to some areas of the same building. A manager may have a key that opens the front door, the offices, and the storage closets while at the same time a employee has a key which only opens the front door and his specific office. If you own a building you may consider have a master-key system tailored to your specific needs. Master-key systems are a great way to control access to different parts of a given building.

Often when I re-key homes for people I offer to master-key one exterior knob, a perfect candidate would be the side service door to the garage. The idea is that they could leave a contractor a key to access the home, but limit his access. If I master-keyed one door knob but left your deadbolt keyed only to your personal key you would be able to temporally give a person access by leaving the deadbolt unlocked, borrowing him the secondary key that only works in that one specific doorknob. In most cases I believe it is preferable to leave your deadbolt unlocked for a few hours rather than lend the key to your home to a unknown person. This allows you to truly give temporary access with the conventional locks you already own.

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Avoid Kwikset Smartkey Products Sun, 27 Nov 2016 19:44:01 +0000 Kwikset has been selling a really bad lock, I hope people avoid it. I can help you identify it and explain why it's important to avoid.

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Kwikset (not) Smartkey Lock Review

Why are these locks aren’t best for most consumers

Kwikset currently has a line of locks out which I have personally opened with a large flat-head screwdriver, and a pair of vice-grips (for leverage). The locks are sold as “drill resistant”, having “superior pick resistance”, having “bumpgaurd”, somehow earning Grade 1 ANSI lock classification… this is all off of kwikset’s  own website (Nov. 27 2016). These claims are misleading at best.

Why are they different? The intention of the design is to give the property owner a simple way to rekey his or her own locks without needing to learn how to rekey locks… the problem is far too much security is sacrificed to make this worth while. If you want to be able to rekey your own locks, just look it up online and buy the proper tools and equipment. Do not purchase “SmartKey” locks. Re-keying locks is not difficult with the correct tools and a little research.

  1. Kwikset locks are made from plastic and soft metals. Plastic and soft metals are not drill resistant, I’ve checked.  The way that REAL”drill-resistant” locks provide actual drill resistance using solid brass construction in cooperation with strategically placed steel pins and steel ball bearings.
  2. The design of these locks are much different from standard pin tumbler locks, so when they say these locks can’t be bumped, and are pick-resistant it is true; however there are far easier ways to bypass them requiring less time, and less skill. The nail in the coffin is the forward facing slot used to re-key the lock. This slot makes the lock easily identifiable from outside as a weak product.
  3. “Grade 1” not even sure what to say any more…  apparently “ANSI grade 1” doesn’t test to see if you can force this to turn with a screwdriver! you feel you want maximum Grade 1 physical security look into purchasing a Medeco or Multi-lock deadbolt. Grade 1 locks are not made of plastic and soft metals!

Kwikset smartkey

The photo above shows a disassembled Kwikset smart key lock built with plastic and soft metal. There is one steel ball bearing uses as a anti-drill measure, however due to the soft metal that encapsulates it, anyone can easily remove it once drilling up to it.



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