TSA Locks aren’t very secure

I’ve never done it before but recently some people came to me with locked luggage with a TSA lock. Their combination wasn’t working, but nowadays most luggage has a key override for the TSA to unlock it. This lock takes a dimple key but it is insecure enough that I was able to unlock it with regular lockpicks. Don’t trust locks with TSA key overrides on them, if I can pick them I’m sure that plenty of other people can.

Kwikset strike plate screws aren’t flush

I’m not sure why Kwikset did this but the strike plate included with their 816 deadbolt doesn’t come with screws that are flush when installed. This becomes a problem in older buildings where the doors are installed with very little room between the door and frame. Since the screws aren’t flush, when the door is shut the screws will scratch the door, or you may not be able to shut the door at all.

In order to avoid this problem you must mortise the strike plate in farther than flush with the surface.

The Kwikset deadbolt comes with a strike whose screws don’t screw in flush with the strike plate.

Read the Instructions

I wonder why the door won’t close?

The thing about ordering locks for doors is that you have to know a few things to minimize labor of installation. What prep is the door? How thick is the door? What is the backset of the lock supposed to be?

Whoever installed this lock didn’t know that there are two backsets for this lock and they ordered the wrong one.

Would you go down there?

Recently had an interesting problem at a local club in Seattle. Their door wouldn’t open all of the way. I determined that this metal plate was rubbing on the door, but the door wasn’t sagging and the doorframe was square. The only solution was that the plate must be higher than originally designed. Turns out that two decades of corrosion actually lifted the plate up quite a bit.

Dark Abode

I had to hammer the rust off of this plate for about an hour before it sat flush on the ground.

Lost your motorcycle key? Call me to get a new one.

I made a key for this bike even as the skies dumped on me. #monsoonseason

If you lost your key, ask the dealership how much a new one will cost. Sometimes they will have information in their database for replacing your lost key for cheap. If not, I have a $200-250 solution. I will make a new key for your bike.

Picking a TSA lock

Somebody came to me with luggage that had a malfunctioned combo lock on it but also had a TSA keyway. I had them tell me what was inside the luggage to confirm it was theirs and picked the TSA lock. It was an interesting pick because the pins were on the side of the keyway, probably a dimple key of some kind. Had to lift the pins sideways with my hook pick.

Locks have different functions, here’s how they can help you

Most people are familiar with the locks they encounter every day in their own home. These are typically entry function and passage function locks. There are many more functions available to you to suit your particular security needs. I stock the functions listed here in the most common finishes which are dull chrome, bright brass, and duranodic or oil rubbed bronze. I also stock some locks in less common finishes like aged bronze, satin nickel, bright chrome, etc.

Passage function locksets

…are just to hold the door shut. They are advantageous mainly because you cannot lock yourself out with a passage lockset unless the lock breaks.

Entry locksets

Entry locksets allow you to leave the door locked or unlocked. Some of these are very easy to lock yourself out with. Probably over 50% of lockouts I service are old Schlage F series entry knobs that don’t unlock when you turn the knob. You won’t notice the door is locked until you try the lock from the outside. Schlage updated their F series locks to automatically unlock when the lock is used to open the door from the inside, and this is the type I always install.

Storeroom locksets

Storeroom locksets are always locked from the outside. These are great for any door that people forget to lock like shared laundry rooms, front doors of apartment buildings, liquor or drug storage areas or, well, storerooms. Employees can’t always be trusted to remember to lock the door. These guarantee that the door will be locked as long as somebody doesn’t prop the door open. For storeroom locks to work properly there should also be some sort of automatic door closer installed. Storeroom function locks are very easy to lock yourself out with. If you set the keys down inside a room that has one of these locks to pick something up and walk out in a hurry, you may be calling me.

Other common uses for storeroom locks are bathrooms in city settings where there is a concern about vagrancy or drug use. The key is kept behind the counter where the staff can monitor who is using the bathroom. This setup may drastically reduce the number of needles and even corpses found in store bathrooms which as become an all too common problem in Seattle due to the rise in the homeless population along with opiate addictions. If there is only one key available to the public it also guarantees that nobody will be walked in on while in the bathroom. I install many of these in coffee shops, gas stations, department stores, etc. Frequently people will forget the bathroom key inside the bathroom so it is useful to have the bathroom lock masterkeyed, allowing the bathroom key to open the door as well as the entry key that the employees have.

Classroom function locksets are not well known to the general public but can be very useful for certain applications. These can be left locked or unlocked but only with a key. There is no button or other device on the inside of the door for locking it, so people can always exit the space making it compliant with fire codes.

I suggest their use for the front door of a shop or store. It won’t do to have a shop with an entry lockset because children or pranksters can lock the door on their way out and you may not notice the door is locked, meaning you lose customers and sales. Some entry function locks are easy to accidentally lock. For example if the door opens far enough that the lock hits the wall, the lock button may get pushed in by the wall. The button might get pushed in by a clumsy person accidentally pushing it with their body. The classroom lock guarantees that only you can leave the door locked or unlocked.

A good example of lockset functions is this list of Schlage ND Series locksets. Not all lock manufacturers make their locks in all functions, but Schlage AL and ND series locks are made in most of them.

There are lots of different functions for locks aside from these as you can see from this helpful graphic. Some functions must be carefully considered before installation. Free egress is required for a space open to the public in case of fire or some other emergency, meaning you can’t lock people inside a room. Fire exits always require free egress when the public is allowed inside! This means that I won’t install an asylum lock that locks the door shut from both sides on a fire exit. People are always asking me to do this but it doesn’t make sense in most applications. Usually the only place I recommend installing these is on exterior gates. Even then customers frequently change their minds after the UPS man gets locked in their yard for example.