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  • Writer's pictureMarco van Wijk

What is a Lock Cylinder?

Updated: Mar 31


Have you ever wondered what makes a lock so secure? The answer lies in the lock cylinder. In this article, we'll explain what a lock cylinder is and how it works, with a focus on the Yale lock and zero-bitted lock cylinders.


What is a Lock Cylinder?


A lock cylinder is the central part of a lock that contains the pins or tumblers that align with the key to allow the lock to be opened. The cylinder is typically made of metal and is mounted within the lock body. When the correct key is inserted into the cylinder, it pushes the pins or tumblers into the correct position, allowing the lock to turn and open.


Different types of lock cylinders are available, including pin-tumbler cylinders, wafer-tumbler cylinders, and disc-tumbler cylinders. However, the most common type of cylinder used in residential and commercial locks is the pin-tumbler cylinder.


Yale Lock Cylinder


The Yale lock is one of the most popular and trusted lock brands in the world. It was invented in the 19th century by Linus Yale Jr. and has been continuously improved upon since then. The lock cylinder used in a Yale lock is a pin-tumbler cylinder, which consists of a series of pins that sit within the cylinder.


Each pin has two parts: the driver pin and the key pin. The driver pin sits above the key pin and is pushed down by a spring. When the correct key is inserted, the key pin aligns with the shear line, which is the boundary between the cylinder and the lock body. This allows the driver pin to be pushed up and out of the way, allowing the cylinder to turn and the lock to open.


Zero-Bitted Cylinders


One way to increase the security of a lock is to use a zero-bitted cylinder. A zero-bitted cylinder has all of the key pins set to the "zero" position, which means that the lock can only be opened by a key that has been specifically cut for that lock. This makes it much more difficult for someone to pick the lock or use a duplicate key to gain access.


Zero-bitted cylinders are often used in high-security locks, such as those used in banks or government buildings. They can also be used in residential and commercial locks to increase security.

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