How to Lock a File Cabinet

How to Lock a File Cabinet

How To Lock A Filing Cabinet

Our number one request in small lock solutions is for filing cabinet locks.

There are a few possible situations, and a locksmith can help you with all of them. When you need to lock a filing cabinet, you might: just need a filing cabinet key, want to replace a missing lock, or are looking to add a lock to the filing cabinet. Depending on the application, you can lock a filing cabinet with: cam locks, filing cabinet locking bars, hasps, plunger locks and dead latch locks.

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Making a Key to a File Cabinet Lock

Keys Made by Code for Filing Cabinet
If your filing cabinet has lock, but you don’t have the key your local locksmith can usually make keys for filing cabinets in their shop or at your site. This is very affordable and can be as little as $20 to cut a key for the cabinet by code (using the numbers that are on the lock).

Or, if the code isn’t in your locksmith’s system, a locksmith can hand-file a key to work the lock. This technique is called ‘impressioning’, and usually costs a bit more than cutting a key by code.

In some cases (such as a single lock needing to have a key made), it may be cheaper to simply replace the lock. But it really depends on the lock. When there are several or more cylinders that operate off the same key code, impressioning a file cabinet key or cutting a key by code is the way to go.

To save even more money, when the cabinet is not locked, you can remove the file cabinet lock and bring it to your local locksmith shop.

When a local locksmith goes to your site there is a ‘trip fee’ charged to cover that cost. But, when you bring the lock to a locksmith shop, you won’t need to pay that and will save a significant amount of money.

If you can’t figure out how to remove a lock from a file cabinet, see if there is a manufacturer listed on the file cabinet, and search online – there is probably a video or article showing you how to remove the lock.

Can My File Cabinet Locks Be Rekeyed?

We’re often asked if we can rekey file cabinet locks. In most cases, we cannot.

Most cam style locks are riveted together and not designed to come apart, and service kits (either pins are wafers) are not available.

There are a few instances where cam locks are rekeyable, however. If your locksmith has a pinning kit for the style locks, they may be able to. But even when that is the case, it’s typically less to just replace it if it’s a standard cam lock.

How To Replace A Filing Cabinet Lock?

Replacing File Cabinet Lock with a Cam Lock
If the locks are simply missing, a locksmith can usually use a standard cam lock as a replacement.

If a standard cam lock doesn’t work though, replacing the file cabinet lock might not be worth it. Especially if it is a very inexpensive file cabinet. The cost of researching the part, the part, and the labor to install the part will exceed the cost of a cheap file cabinet.

But for older filing cabinets, well-built ones, fire-rated filing cabinets or otherwise high-end file cabinets; getting a lock for the existing cabinet is the best to go. Your local locksmith will be able to order and/or install the lock you need.

Depending on the lock and the age of the file cabinet, there may be other options to lock the filing cabinet that are less expensive and offer more security.

Locking A Filing Cabinet That Doesn’t Have A Lock

Filing Cabinet Locking Bars

For retro-fitting file cabinets with no locks, there are a number of products to solve this need.

ACME Locksmith Installation of Locking Bars – Product Available on Amazon
One of my favorites is to use file cabinet bars, particularly the (ABUS File Cabinet Locking Bars available on Amazon).

These are bars that are mounted on the outside of metal filing cabinets, and are secured with a padlock. They come in different and specific sizes for 1-5 drawer cabinets, and they lock all cabinet drawers at once.

They are fairly easy to install for the do-it-yourselfer, but if needed, don’t hesitate to contact your local locksmith to install the file cabinet locking bar. Regardless of what was on the filing cabinet at one point (if a lock previously existed) filing cabinet locking bars offer the best security across the whole cabinet.

Locksmith Tip for File Cabinet Bars: If you want, you can use a padlock that can be keyed up to your home our business key. ABUS makes one of our favorite (the ABUS 83/45 series available on Amazon). Just be sure to order the ABUS 83/45 series padlock that is the same keyway as your home or business key. Once you have the padlock, take it into a locksmith shop to get it keyed to match you existing key.

Cam Locks May be Used on Individual Drawers

Installing Filing Cabinet Locks On Individual Drawers

If you want to secure each drawer separately, then you can sometimes fit cam locks into the drawer faces, which latch against the drawer frame materials, if the space inside allows for it.

Alternately a small piece to catch the cam arm can be put in. Cam locks are usually very inexpensive, and can be ordered to be keyed alike to or differently from each other, depending on need.

There are also cam styles that use combinations instead of keys, if you’d rather not have to use a key that might get lost. The face of these locks is a little bigger than a standard cam lock, but many people find them more convenient.

Other Ways To Secure File Cabinets

Hasps, like this one from Amazon, can be used to lock filing cabinets.
You can use a hasp between the drawer and frame to lock the file cabinet drawer.

A hasp attaches to the side of a file cabinet, and a piece of this folds over the drawer, to be secured using a padlock.

This usually isn’t the ideal set-up (they aren’t very visually appealing), but in some situations it can be the best (or only) way to secure them.

There are some plunger style locks available that may allow a retro-fitted cabinet to self-latch and lock upon closing, but some file cabinets may not accommodate them. These would also in this case be installed on the side of the file cabinet instead of the face, and depending on where the file cabinet is to be seated, it may not be ideal.

I’m Retro-Fitting My File Cabinet With Locks. Where Do I Install Them?

It is preferable, when possible, to install cam locks into a space that has some thickness of material to it. Very thin metal will be strained if someone tries to open the cabinet without unlocking it, and it may bend.

If the drawers have an area with more than one layer of metal used for the cam lock, it will hold up better if installed there. If your cabinets are made poorly, it may actually be cheaper to just buy a new cheap file cabinet that comes with locks, rather than the installation time and expense to retro-fit.

Installing a Lock on a Wood File Cabinet.

Wood file cabinets may also utilize a cam lock in many cases, but if they are real wood, you are open to some other options, such as flush mount locks and locks which would automatically be secured each time the drawer closed (called a ‘dead latch’, similar to the self-latching door lock on your home).

Olympus Deadbolt Locks
Olympus locks are great for wood filing cabinets and when installed correctly can be very secure (they are available on Amazon).

In a lot of antique situations, there may be pre-cut spaces for locks which are simply missing. But chances are that there’s an aftermarket lock that can fit the function and space, if you can gather the precise measurements to the existing spaces missing the locks.

If you’re doing a retro-fitting, a real wood cabinet product gives you the most options for securing them in a manner that is attractive and functional. Though you may pay more for the hardware and put a little more work into the fitting of the new locks, it’s worth it to have a more robust lock installed.

A final note about retrofitting locks into cabinets with particle board doors here. Particle board is made of little bits of wood that are (essentially) glued together into a flat board.

Usually, cabinets constructed of this material are not of the best quality. Drilling into particle board creates significant weak spots in the material, and they may break or ‘shed’ wood particles shortly after installing locks.

We don’t recommend installing locks into a particle board filing cabinet. It’s just not worth it. If you have a cabinet made of pressed wood, consider buying a different one, or consider storing your valuables elsewhere.

Disclosure: As an Amazon / Google Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases.

How to Lock Cabinet Doors

How to Lock Cabinet Doors

In our article “How to Lock Drawers” we discussed several types of locks that also lend themselves well to locking cabinet doors.

The nice part about cabinet door locks is that there is always a door to easily attach the lock to, and there is always ample surfaces in which to secure the latching component of the lock.

This allows for several other products to be used to lock the cabinet door so you can really find a product you like with the budget you’d like to spend. There are some very nice selections available to match almost any need and style.

The preferred ways to lock cabinet doors are:

Types of Cabinet Door Locks
Types of Cabinet Door Locks


Using Cam Locks to Lock Cabinets

Using a cam lock to secure a cabinet door is the most common method of locking a cabinet. They are common and affordable (see pricing on Amazon).

Keyless “Combi-Cam” Cam Lock
In a cam lock installation you will need to install a catch on the inside of the cabinet door (a cam lock strike) for the cam to latch to when the door is closed. They are very affordable on Amazon so buy in bulk for all your cabinet doors.

The combination cam lock (price on Amazon) is also a good option here if you don’t want to be bothered with keys. A code can be dialed in before turning the lock.

There is one additional consideration you have with a cabinet lock when two cabinet doors close together but there is no vertical bar between the two doors. In this case, if you want to use a single lock for both doors you will need either:

  • To create a fixed side on one of the cabinet doors,
  • Or use a special locking device that will lock and unlock both cabinet doors automatically from one installed lock.

Cabinet with Fixed Door and Active Door
Cabinet with Fixed Door and Active Door
When we use a non-electronic cam lock on a double door cabinet (either keyed or combination), we often create a fixed side on one of the doors.

The fixed door is secured to the cabinet with a slide bolt, then the locking door (the active door) is secured to the fixed door after the fixed door is closed. When you need both doors open, you unlock the cabinet’s active door and then reach into the cabinet to unlock the fixed side of the door.

Timberline Double Cabinet Latch Available on Amazon
There is an awesome product by Timberline that will lock both cabinet doors together, no matter which door is closed first, and allow both doors to freely swing open once the locked side has been opened.

This product requires you to pay attention to the part you buy (there are multiple versions and how you are going to install your cabinet lock. One part is meant for when a lock is installed on the left and the other part for when the lock is installed on the right.

Electronic Cam Locks

Compx Regulator Electronic Cam Lock on Amazon
One of our favorite cabinet door locks is the Compx Regulator Keyless Electronic lock (price it on Amazon) .

We love this keyless cabinet lock and have used it in many schools and offices. It’s especially useful when combined with the Timberline double door latch. This electronic cam lock with the dual door latch is rugged enough to withstand heavy use and perfect for school and office applications.

Hidden Cabinet Door Locks

There are primarily two types of hidden cabinet locks: pin-pad controlled and magnetic locks.

The first lock we like for business applications. It’s called the Stealth Keyless Cabinet lock as well. It’s made by the same company as the Regulator. It’s got a great price on Amazon. With the Stealth lock, you have all the same benefits of the electronic lock plus the following:

  • Not visible from the exterior of the cabinet
  • Quick installation (~10 minutes) with no large holes to drill for the cam of a cam lock
  • Keyless operated using a pin code
  • The pin-code pin pad can be installed up to 15’ away from the lock
  • The pin pad can control several locks at once. So for a medical office or other multi-drawer facility, you can unlock all the drawers using one code and one keypad
  • When using these locks, we always recommend the optional power supply. Without the power supply the lock is battery powered and the batteries are on the inside of the cabinet.

Child Safety Cabinet Door Locks

Magnetic Locks – Child Cabinet Safety
We are seeing magnetic cabinet door locks used most-often as a child cabinet safety lock. They are being made very affordable (check them out here on Amazon) because most of the magnetic cabinet lock manufactures are using plastic components specifically aimed at the child cabinet safety market and not security market.

These locks are installed quickly (in many cases requiring no drilling) and don’t require a key to open. More importantly, they won’t ruin the beauty of the cabinet door because they are not visible on the exterior of the cabinet. They are ideal for locking kitchen cabinet doors or bathroom cabinet doors to prevent young children from opening the door.

Instead of a key, a strong magnet is held up to the door in the approximate area of the lock. The magnet retracts the latch so that the door can freely open.

If your interest is to create a child-safe cabinet, these are a great option.

Locking Wooden Sliding Cabinet Doors

Plunger Locks are Ideal for Locking Sliding Cabinet Doors
Plunger Lock
When you have two wooden drawers the slide in front and to the rear of each other, a plunger lock will become your best friend.

A plunger lock is a push button lock (shop on Amazon). When pushed in, a plunger rod in the back of the lock slides in the same distance into whatever is behind the lock, and the plunger lock is locked into place until the key is used.

For sliding wooden doors, it’s an ideal option since the rod of the plunger lock can slide into a hole made into the rear sliding cabinet door preventing the doors from opening.

Locking Glass Cabinets

Showcase Locks
Often times there is a need to lock glass-based display cases. There are products for these, too; we call them ‘showcase locks’.

These are locks designed to be attached to glass surfaces and there are a variety of options depending on how the sliding glass cabinets are configured. Sometimes they are secured via a pressure screw to hold the lock to the glass and sometimes, they are epoxied onto the glass. We view the epoxy as the better solution since it distributes force/pressure and makes the glass less likely to break, but they stopped making our favorite glass cabinet lock a few years back.

Various DIY options though can be found on Amazon.

Most solutions offer limited security as the glass can simply be broken. They are meant to keep customers from quickly swiping something out of a glass cabinet unnoticed. But for high end markets, like jewelry stores, there are entire companies devoted to high-security glass locks. Locks for glass cabinets is perhaps worthy of an article all its own.

Disclosure: As an Amazon / Google Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases.

How to Install Drawer Locks

How to Install Drawer Locks

Types of Drawer Locks

We get calls all the time asking how to secure things like desk drawers, garage cabinets and other small cabinet spaces. In most situations, these aren’t needing to be anything robust, just something to keep honest people honest or maybe little kids away from where they ought not be prying. So the drawer locking solutions can run from the basic to the more advanced when security is indeed the primary goal.

Drawers are most often locked with cam locks. Cam locks come in both keyed and keyless lock (electronic) varieties. Other drawer lock options available are: drawer deadbolt locks, plunger locks, magnetic locks, and hidden drawer locks (not visible) so no one is aware they are installed. Read more

The Best Smart Lock of 2020

The Best Smart Lock of 2020

In our recent blog posts, The Best Smart Locks for AirBnB, and our 3 Best Home Electronic Deadbolts, we discussed some of our favorite home electronic locks.

The difference between those two articles is Read more

Door Egress Requirements

Door Egress Requirements

What is Building Egress Code?

“Egress” is a building term that refers to “a means or place of going out”. In other words, it’s an exit.

Both commercial buildings and residential homes contain codes regarding the paths of egress. Any door that is along the path of exit (the egress path) is considered an Egress Door. That is, if someone needs to go through that door to exit the building, then that door is an egress door. This includes office doors, hallway doors, etc…. For safety reasons, municipals have adopted new fire code for exit doors.

Egress Path

Nearly every door in a commercial building is classified as Read more

Google Makes a Machine the Largest “Locksmith” in the Country

Google Makes a Machine the Largest “Locksmith” in the Country

Google Makes a Key Duplication Kiosk the Largest “Locksmith” in the US – KeyMe’s Fake Google Business Listings

Google is suppose to be smart. They are a high-tech company solving high-tech problems, but once again, they have been beaten by an unscrupulous company. This company, KeyMe, has figured out how to trick Google Read more

Are There Any Locks That Can’t be Picked?

Are There Any Locks That Can’t be Picked?

Can Every Lock be Picked?

We recently started our YouTube Channel where I discuss our favorite locks. Often we’re talking about the best locks for a specific function.

Lock Picking
Can Every Lock Be Picked?
For example, “What’s the best lock to stop lock bumping,” What’s the best padlock to just keep honest people honest,” etc…

We see a lot of comments about how a specific lock can be bypassed, “That lock can be picked using XYC….” or “So and so shows how to bypass that lock.”

The reality is that nearly every lock can be picked and if not picked, bypassed using some other method. The secret to security is having locks that are extremely difficult to pick and or bypassed. You want a pick-resistant Read more

Understanding Lock Functions

Understanding Lock Functions

How Do Locks Work – Lock Functions: Passage, Entry, Storeroom, Classroom, Privacy

Locks behave differently based on their lock function. Do you want a lock that always locks every time the door closes? There’s a lock function for that. Do you want a lock that cannot be locked from the inside (only the outside) so that you never get locked out of a room? Yep, there’s a lock function for that too. Here are the most common types of lock functions. Read more

Lock Grading – ANSI Lock Grades Explained

Lock Grading – ANSI Lock Grades Explained

Lock Grades 1 2 3 Explained

The ANSI lock grading system was developed to setup a standard testing procedure to measure the strength and durability of a lock. The ANSI lock grade system provides an indication as to the quality of the lock being purchased. The system is composed of three Read more

Safe Burglary Ratings – Burglary Ratings Explained

Safe Burglary Ratings – Burglary Ratings Explained

Purchasing a safe can be a big investment, but how do you know you’re getting the right safe for your needs? Safe burglary ratings can be very confusing. What do b-rated, c-rated, RSC, TL15, and TL30 burglar ratings mean? Here, I break down the common safe burglary ratings so you know what they are, and you can make a safe purchase with the confidence of understanding what level of security you are buying.

There are a couple systems for safe ratings (at least in the United States). One is developed by insurance companies, and mainly focuses on safe construction, and the other by Underwriters Laboratories (UL Safe Ratings), which offer test performance ratings. Read more

What are the Arizona Pool Code Requirements?

What are the Arizona Pool Code Requirements?

Arizona Swimming Pool Code & Lock Requirements

Here in Arizona, home of Acme Locksmith, a good percentage of homes have in-ground swimming pools.  We have the perfect climate for them, and having a swimming pool means you can entertain in another space at your home almost the whole year round.  But a swimming pool can also be a hazard source, and each year we hear in the news of drownings; the saddest instances are when a small child is lost to a pool drowning.

Arizona Pool Code

For this reason, the State of Arizona, and Arizona cities, have building codes in effect for homes that have above-ground and in-ground swimming pools, applicable to all new construction and, generally, in the sale or transfer of existing homes. 

For Arizona, the pool code is found in Read more

What Types of Locks are There (With Photos)

What Types of Locks are There (With Photos)

What Type of Locks are Available?

Lock Types
Common Lock Types & Functions

What types of locks are there? What do you want to secure a cabinet? Lock a gate? What is the difference between a latch and a bolt? We’ll Read more

How to Secure Home Windows

How to Secure Home Windows

How to Secure Your Home Windows Against Break-ins

Protect Windows from Burglars

Adequate home security involves more than just your doors. While most break-ins occur through front, back, and garage entry ways, nearly a quarter of break-ins occur through windows. Read more

How Much Does it Cost to Rekey a Business Lock?

How Much Does it Cost to Rekey a Business Lock?

When Should a Business Rekey Their Building?

When you’ve terminated an employee or just moved your business into a new location, perhaps maybe even a theft, it’s time to rekey you business locks. Rekeying your locks means that only authorized team members will have keys to your business (and even those employees will only have keys to the doors they need). But what does it cost to rekey a business? Read more

How Much Does it Cost to Rekey House Locks?

How Much Does it Cost to Rekey House Locks?

How Much Does it Cost to Rekey A House Lock?

House Rekey
House Rekey

Just bought a home? Just tossed your roommate? Fired your cleaning crew or no longer need that house sitter? It’s time to rekey your locks! How much is a rekey? This post will give you the information you need to understand the rekeying process, and the costs associated with it. Read more

How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Panic Bar

How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Panic Bar

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Panic Bar?

An “Exit Device”, also known as a “Panic Bar” or “Crash Bar” is hardware designed to be installed on the secured side (inside) of a door which opens outward. It provides single motion, almost effortless, ease in exiting the door; while also providing security against intrusion. Most people never even think about them until something goes wrong and they stop operating correctly. Technically, these exit devices are either “Panic Hardware” or “Fire Exit Hardware.” The devices should be physically labeled as one or the other, and must meet the criteria to be labeled as such.

The following table summarizes the cost for specific Read more

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Car Key Made?

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Car Key Made?

How Much Does it Cost for a Duplicate Car Key in Arizona?

Depending on the key type, it can cost as little as $7 to get a car key in Phoenix, AZ market, or as much as (and over) $600! Check out our chart Read more

How to Change a Door Lock

How to Change a Door Lock

How to Replace an Existing Door Lock

Replacing a door lock is a simple process that most homeowners can readily handle. This helpful guide will make sure you’ve done it right. Read more

How to Secure French Doors

How to Secure French Doors

How to Secure French Doors from Burglars

French doors are one of the weakest security points in your home due to two individual doors meeting in the middle. When they are not properly locked, or the locks provided during the installation have not been modified, these doors can be made to easily swing open even when the deadbolt and door lever have been locked. Read more

How to Adjust Door Closers

How to Adjust Door Closers

How to Adjust Door Closer Speed

Adjusting a Surface Mount Door Closer

An hydraulic door closer is a mechanical device which automatically closes a door using springs and a system of chambers filled with a hydraulic fluids to control the motion/speed of the door. The most common adjustments that are done are:

  • The close swing (or ‘sweep’) speed – the speed at which the door closes.
  • The latching speed – the last few inches of the door closing to latch properly.
  • Some hydraulic door closer models also allow adjustments to the back-check. Door closer BC (or Back Check) means how the door responds when fully opened – the amount of resistance when opening the door past a certain point.
  • Read more