How Do Your Locks Work

lock and key

Have you ever taken a minute to consider how your locks work? I am not just talking about the simple pin and tumbler key locks, although that is certainly a good question. What about your security door locks or even a keyless entry door?

Read on to find out just how your locks actually work, whether they are an electronic lock, a mortise lock or cylinder locks.


I am going to start off with the combination lock as this brings back some fond childhood memories of me trying to break into my dad’s briefcase! The combination lock uses a set of wheels that work together. The lock will only open when the correct combination is used.

Combination LockThe number of wheels in a combination lock determines how many numbers there are in the security code. Each wheel has multiple numbers to choose from and is connected to a spindle and a drive cam. On the underside of each correct number on the wheel, there is a space, while all the other numbers are filled out. When the right number combination is aligned, it creates a long space all along the underside of the wheels. This gap allows the slot to release the full length of the lock’s wheels and open. If any of the wheels in a combination lock is not in alignment, then the slot is blocked and the lock won’t have space to open.

Combination locks are great for general padlocks, bike locks, filing cabinets or public lockers. Basically, they are the best option for someone or somewhere you would rather not rely on having the right key with you.


The traditional pin tumbler lock is usually housed inside cylinder locks. Pin tumbler locks work using a number of different sized spring-loaded pins inside the lock that block the turning mechanism. When the correct key is placed into the keyhole, the key will lift each pin in the cylinder to an even level. Once all the pins are aligned evenly, the cylinder can then be turned by the key to release the lock.

The advantage of a cylinder lock is that the entire locking apparatus is inserted inside a cylinder. This means that the lock can be changed more easily without affecting the bolt or needing to replace the door.

Cylinder locks are commonly used on most household doors and car doors. This means they are easily replaced if they get jammed or rusted. The pin tumbler lock can also easily be removed by a professional locksmith near you to rekey the lock should the original key be lost or stolen.


A mortise lock requires a pocket to be cut into the door and the lock case will then be fitted inside this. A mortise lock is considered to be a particularly secure locking system as it is comprised of both a latch bolt and a deadbolt within the same lock case.

Mortise locks are used more commonly for commercial and business entrance doors.


Electronic locking systemAs you may have guessed, the electronic locks work with an electronic current. The locks sometimes use a combination code and a key or it may work using just the combination code.

The electronic locks can run on batteries or they may be connected to your home security wiring or even to your mobile device! They provide a higher level of security as they can’t be picked, like a traditional lock, and often trigger the alarm after too many incorrect attempts, unlike the combination lock.

If you would like to upgrade to electronic locks in your home or office, you are welcome to check out our price list for the most competitive prices around.

Deciding Which Lock Suits You Best

Now that you know a little bit about how different locks work, it is time to call the experts - On Time Locksmiths - to discuss what lock options would best suit your requirements..

Our professional locksmiths can assess your requirements and recommend the best lock options. You can even review our other services

What Customers Say About Us

Jannie W.
W. 29th street

Dave is great! He was punctual and professional. And after installing the new locks on all of our doors, he cleaned up after himself! The same cannot be said for the last service I hired… would definitely recommend and use again!

Adrian Stanton
S Kenton Ave

We live not too far from Chicago and I spend about a hour and a half to get to my office. Mornings are always in a hurry for me and a broken door would be the worst I could expect. However, this was exactly what happened. I had no time to lose and so I called 247 Ontime Locksmiths. The expert guy from Locksmiths could fix the problem and I could go to work.

Tim Lewis
E Van Buren St

My car door didn’t open at all. Just a phone call to 24/7 Local Locksmiths and in less than 15 minutes I could drive my car again! Good job!