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An Overview of Lock Cylinders

Nov. 17, 2020


Looking for the right lock cylinder for the job? This quick comparison of the most popular kinds will help you decide.

Cams and Drivers for Cylinders

Cams and drivers play a critical role in the proper operation of any lock cylinder, and the materials, sizes, and number you choose to use will directly impact the security of your lock. For instance, simpler locks often only use one driver per pin while more complex and secure locks often have additional, known as spacer pins.

Deadbolt Cylinders

Deadbolt cylinders are ideal for applications where increased security is necessary. You can choose from both a single cylinder and double cylinder deadbolt, with the former more common solution accepting a key on one side and having a twist handle on the other. The latter locks with a key on both sides.

Key-In-Knob (KIK) Cylinders

A Key-In-Knob or KIK cylinder is often utilized in deadbolts, padlocks, and other cylindrical locksets. It operates by rotating the key within the cylinder, and the cylinder itself is often installed directly into the center of a door knob, hence the name.

Mortise Cylinders

Mortise cylinders feature a threaded cam and exterior, with the appearance looking very similar to a typical screw. The threading allows the cylinder to be secured by rotating it into the corresponding grooves found within the lock body. The bodies for mortise cylinders are typically designed to fit directly inside a door, with nothing protruding out.

Rim Cylinders

While mortise cylinders generally sit flush with a door’s surface once installed inside their lock body, rim cylinders typically have a lock body that protrude outwards. Rim cylinders themselves have bolts and a stem inside, which project into the door. When the correct key is used, the stem rotates, unlocking the device on the other side.

Thumbturn (T-Turn) Cylinders

Thumb turn (or “T-turn”) cylinders are becoming an increasingly more popular lock solution for homes as they allow for quick release from the inside using only the pressure of a thumb, thus ensuring a speedy exit in the event of a fire or other residential emergency. These cylinders operate by allowing a person to lock or unlock them from the inside by twisting them counterclockwise or clockwise, respectively.

Cylinder Collars

A cylinder collar is a ring or plate that’s placed under the head of a cylinder within a lock. Used for spacing, these cylinder collars play an important role in the design and functionality of a lock. You can purchase them in different materials and sizes based on the lock you’re working with. You can also find adjustable cylinder collars.

Miscellaneous Cylinders

Many other types of cylinders exist, like the oval cylinder lock, which is oval-shaped and uses a mortice lock body. You can also find interchangeable core cylinders which, as the name implies, have replaceable and interchangeable cores inside of the lock housing.