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How Keys Work to Unlock Locks

Locks and keys are two of the earliest known human creations. In the past, keys were made of metal bars with notches that matched the grooves in locks. Although this design was functional, it had one significant flaw. It was easy to insert the incorrect key into a lock, which led to many complications. As a result, keys were radically redesigned. The single rod was replaced with twin levers as an additional component. Keys with two levers still had rows of notches on both sides, but now they had two levers on top.

While the primary form of keys may have been altered throughout history, keys have remained the same in operation. In this article, we will explain how keys work to unlock doors.


Modern locks are a long cry from the basic rope knots your ancestors used for security, but they operate on the same concept. The ancient lock was made of wood, but today's locks are constructed of brass that has been hardened to make them impregnable. The current lock, however, owes a great deal to the ancient Egyptian culture, whose locksmiths invented the simple pin tumbler lock, the foundation of the modern lock.


Keys are made by placing blanks in grinding machines that carve out the necessary valleys. A qualified locksmith can change a lock by removing its pins and replacing them with new ones that match the key of choice. Despite their size, keys are made of numerous distinct parts. The design of keys is such that each of these elements must be exact and different from that of other keys to guarantee uniqueness and exclusivity in opening locks.

How Keys Open Locks

Every lock contains pins that allow for locking and unlocking. Each pin has a different height and configuration. Each pin corresponds to the dents of the key's cutting. When a key with the same profile as the lock is inserted, the pins are properly aligned. This indicates that no pins are blocking the shear line, allowing the key to spin.

The pin tumblers and top pins are fully extended in the lock's barrel. The upper pins are located between the pin tumblers and the springs. When a key is inserted into the lock, the pins tumblers are forced into the pins of the top chamber, resulting in the springs being compressed. Pressure is then applied to align the pins flush with the shear line. Turning the key turns the barrel, which activates the cam that catches the lock's bolt. The lock may either be opened or locked by this rotation.


Keys help us to get seamless access to our homes, office and valuables. However, locks can get damaged, become faulty and be compromised, which may result in property loss and being locked out. At Birmingham Locksmith Pro, we offer top-notch key replacement service to help you resolve all issues and repairs with your locks and key.

With decades of experience in the locksmith sector, No work is too large or too little for us to do since we have the necessary skills and expertise. Birmingham Locksmith Pro distinguishes itself with excellent service that is available to everyone at all times. Give us a call today.