Master Lock Keys: What They Are and How They Work

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As you can guess from our name, we at A. L. Odom Locksmiths, Inc. know everything there is to know about locks and keys. One of the reasons we have a blog is to teach people about various locksmithing terms and technologies so that they can make more informed decisions when it comes to their security. One thing that is often of interest to our commercial clients is our master lock keys, so in this article, we’ll provide a brief overview of what they are and how they work.

Master Lock Keys: What They Are and How They Work

What are Master Lock Keys?

At the most basic level, master lock keys open more than one lock. Many office buildings and similar properties are equipped with master keyed locks, as this makes building maintenance much more convenient. Each person who works in the office building has a key to their own office door, but the custodians have master keys that will let them access every part of the building for cleaning.

How Do Master Lock Keys Work?

To understand how master lock keys work, you first have to know how normal lock and key systems work. Standard tumbler locks contain a number of key pins, which are of different heights. When the lock is locked, the key pins descend past the shear line (which separates the cylinder from the static parts of the mechanism), preventing the cylinder from turning. When the key is inserted, the teeth raise each lock pin up far enough to clear the shear line and allow the cylinder to turn. In a master keyed lock, each key pin has another piece of metal underneath it. These extra pieces are known as master wafers, and they essentially create another set of gaps that can clear the shear line, allowing another key to open the lock. In each master keyed lock, the master wafers are different sizes, allowing the same key to open every lock in the system.