If you’ve ever wondered how keys work, here’s a little break down.
Basically, all keys are “coded” for length and depth. A typical key consists of two parts: the blade and the bow. The blade is the part of the key that slides into the lock, while the bow is that part of the key that protrudes from the blade that you grasp in your hand when using the key. The code of the key, or the cut of the blade, is made to match the tumbler within the lock itself. Pins of varying lengths move to accommodate the cut of the key, either allowing access or preventing the lock from opening. Cuts within the keyway, often referred to as wards by local locksmiths, restrict which particular key can be used within that lock’s keyway. When the proper key is fully inserted, the plug or cylinder will now rotate and allow access.
The smaller, flat key that we use today, that with the serrated edges, was invented by Linus Yale Jr. in 1861, expanding upon his father’s original pin-tumbler design of the 1840’s. Where transponder keys and remote keys have brought new innovative ways to the world of locksmith services, the pin-tumbler lock is still widely used for home and commercial use, as well as with personal safe boxes, gates and other means of storage or secure access.