Locksmith Terms & Terminology


What is that locksmith saying?

Sometimes it might feel that your lock and security specialist is speaking a different language. At ACME, we try use the most commonly understood terminology, but we admit it can get complicated. Hopefully, this helps clarify it all.

What is a Lock Cylinder?

Most locks take key. The thing the key slides into is called the lock cylinder. Cylinders have pins or wafers that can be rekeyed so the lock will work with a new key.


What does “Rekey” Mean

Rekeying is the process of making a lock cylinder work with a new key. It is accomplished by removing the old pins within the lock and replacing them with new, different length pins. Once completed the old keys will no longer open the lock.

What Does the DND on My Key Mean?

It stands for “Do Not Duplicate”. If you don’t want someone making a copy of your key, stamping a key “Do Not Duplicate” is the simplest way, but although at one time this was sufficient, DND stamping no longer prevents duplication. There are better ways to accomplish key control, most notably restricted keys.

What is a Keyway?

Keyway describes the cutting on the shaft of the key. Different manufactures have different keyways. This is why you sometimes find that the key you own does not slide into the lock you just bought at a home store. The locks have different keyways and are not compatible. For example, a Kwikset key will not fit a Schlage lock. Some brands however do have interchangeable keyways. A knowledgeable locksmith will be able to help you find what you need so that all of your locks are compatible.


What Does Lock Finish Mean?

Finish refers to how the lock looks. Finish can be composed of both color and texture. Here are the most common lock finishes from Kwikset and Schlage locks.

What the heck is a Mortise Locks or Cylindrical Locks?

A mortise lock is generally, but not always, found in commercial buildings. If you have an aluminum storefront door you have a mortise lock on it. They are small locks with the face being about the size of a silver dollar. The main lock body for a mortise lock is recessed into the side of the door.

A cylindrical lock is the standard lock you see on homes. It goes through the door


What are the Different Types of Car Keys?

For the past several years, automobiles have been requiring car keys that need to be programmed to the vehicle in order for the car to start. Purely mechanical car keys no longer exist in all but the most basic of cars. The head of a transponder key includes electronic components that the car uses to confirm the key is valid.

Next came laser cut or high-security automotive keys. They also contain a chip that needs to be programmed to the vehicle and are very difficult to duplicate without special equipment.

Proximity keys are the latest in technology. They look similar to a basic remote but they take the place of the car key. With proximity keys, the car will start with a push of a button so long as the prox key is near the vehicle and sometimes the car door locks will automatically unlock when you approach the car. Can you get locked out of a car if you have a prox key? You bet. If the remote or car battery dies, you’re locked out.

In most cases, a good old fashioned mechanical key will still get you into the door or trunk in case you are ever locked out. And it’s always good to have one in case of an emergency to save $100s of dollars.

Types of Car keys

What are the Different Types of Deadbolts?

Single, Double, and Half Deadbolts

A single deadbolt has a key on one side of the lock and a thumb turn on the other. This is the most common deadbolt installed on residential doors.

A double deadbolt takes a key on both sides of the door, and a key is required to lock the deadbolt even from the inside of the home.

Pro Tip: Fire code no longer allows for double sided deadbolts installed on residential home front doors or courtyard gates.

Half deadbolts, have a thumb turn on the inside of the home (to lock the door), like a single sided deadbolt. But there is nothing on the outside of the door. No key hole, no indication that a deadbolt is installed. Because of this, they cannot be picked, bumped, or jimmied open and offer a huge security improvement

What are the Types of Lock Locking Functions

Passage, Privacy, Classroom, Storeroom, Entry Locks

Did you know there are over 30 different ways a door lock can function? Here are the most common.

Passage Function Locks: Have no locking function and are for doors that dont need to be secured.

Privacy Function Locks: Privacy locks have a thumb turn to lock the lock from the inside of the door and some means to unlock the door from the outside (but not normally a key). An example would be home bedroom or bathroom door locks.

Classroom Function Locks: Classroom function locks have no way to lock/unlock the door from inside the room. They always have free egress so in case of an emergency the room can be existed always. They use a key to lock/unlock from the outside of the room.

Storeroom Function Locks: These locks always require a key to open the lock from the outside. They always allow free egress.

Entry Function Locks: Can be locked/unlocked from inside the room with a thumb turn and require a key to unlock from the outside. This is the type of lock you find on your homes and most office doors.

Deadbolt with Gate Latch
Gate Locks: Gate locks normally require a key for both sides and the body of the lock is basically a deadbolt. However, the major difference is that they latch (or lock) automatically when the gate gets closed just like a knob or lever does on your front door (not like a deadbolt where the latch has to be manually thrown in order lock).