Blog – Seattle's Maple Leaf Locksmith LLC – (206)335-4559

New developments in lock security

For years people have asked me if they need to replace their locks with ones that are more resistant to lockpicking. Until now I have always said that unless it is known that you have things highly desirable to thieves, a standard five pin Schlage deadbolt is probably good enough. Until now except rarely thieves haven’t been using lockpicks or other professional tools for lock bypass and manipulation, but that is changing.

In the past month one of my customers in a troubled building has found a lockpick outside his building’s front door. In a different building’s back door I found a broken lockpick. What this means is that the minimum bar for security has been raised. Now apartment buildings need the same high security cylinders that banks and jewelry stores have been using for decades.

The reason for this is up for debate but my personal theory is that police response times in Seattle are not great and criminals know it. They have more time to break into buildings to steal packages or break into cars before authorities show up. Even if they are caught they know that they won’t be held for long, often getting back out a few days later.

Add into the mix the popular Youtube channel The Lockpicking Lawyer whose videos raise awareness of how easy lockpicking can be and also sells said lockpicks to anybody and it is hard to imagine that this situation wouldn’t have arisen. Along with standard lockpicks, criminals with a little more money can buy Lishi picks (from The Lockpicking Lawyer) which will open more than half the commercial and apartment buildings in Seattle. These tools cost under $100 online and can be purchased by anybody.

The more interesting question is what to do to prevent illicit entry with the proliferation of lock bypass and manipulation tools. The answer is that building owners can no longer rely on inexpensive lock pin tumbler lock cylinders that have been standard for more than 100 years. It’s old technology and with the help of Youtube and the vast knowledge available on the internet criminals have caught up. It is time, at least in Seattle, to upgrade to higher security lock cylinders that are much harder to open without a key.

There are a few features that building owners should be looking for in an upgrade. Pick resistance comes from difficult keyways, sidebars, security pins and other features found in higher security locks. These locks frequently also feature other desirable features like restricted keyways and hardened steel inserts to prevent drilling.

I sell a few different keyways that fit the bill. While budgeting for a new expensive lock system and keys, also consider moving to an audited electronic form of entry. Don’t be cheap with electronic locks though. Many buildings are implementing fob systems that are no longer very secure either. The cheapest fobs that are also the most common are easily cloned at Minutekey kiosks. These systems are also quickly and easily spoofed with off the shelf electronics and tutorials on how to do it are easy to find on Youtube where the lockpicking lawyer helpfully also points out where to buy these tools.

The “Flipper Zero” is a new tool available for less than $200. It can be used to unlock a lot of doors using key fobs. Access control systems can use higher encryption that is more difficult for these tools to crack and also prevents unauthorized duplication of fobs. Iclass cards for example. I don’t do a lot of access control systems because in this state I’m not allowed to run wires.

Rate Increases Coming

Inflation and increasing amount of travel time due to increasing number of drivers and decreasing traffic infrastructure means it is time to raise rates. I realized I was undercharging a lot, 50% less than many of my colleagues. I have now updated pricing to 10% under market rate. I will continue to provide documentation for those who wish to save money by doing things themselves on my website.

Veto Propac zipper separation problem fix

I am a happy owner of my third Veto Propac and still have my last one because it still sort of works but the zipper comes apart which is concerning if you are walking over grass, you might leave a trail of very expensive tools behind you without hearing them fall out!

I took the bag to a local seamstress but after cleaning the zipper with oil she was unable to get it working properly so I thought I might have to ship it in to Veto for zipper replacement. I could probably get them to do it for free because they have a five year warranty but this was my fault stuffing to much stuff in the bag and forcing the zipper closed so it would have been expensive.

Today I needed a grocery backpack for my motorcycle and I saw that bag in the back of the garage and I thought I fix mechanical problems all day, why not fix this one? After realizing the zipper wasn’t forcing the two sides together enough I tried squeezing the back of the zipper together and also the top and bottom together with some pliers. It worked! I squeezed the other side and now I have two Propacs. Now I can have a dedicated one for weekend and afterhours lockouts. I hope this helps somebody out there fix their busted zipper, I know it is a common problem because Veto has a FAQ on their website talking about how to prevent this…but not how to fix it!

Getting a Weslock to use Schlage SC1 key

TLDR: you have to drill or grind out the top of the cylinder housing where the bible goes a little bit.

Schlage cylinder after Weslock housing modification

There are two kinds of manufacturers: those that manufacturer products that use industry standards and those that make it up as they go along. They might make their own standards as a form of protectionism or vendor lock-in, or they might do it because it’s too hard to conform to standards.

Whatever the case, in the lock world many deadbolts can take a key in knob or “universal” cylinder, and many can’t. This is a daily explanation I give to people asking me to make one key work in their house full of incompatible locks. The mantra is, “If the key can be inserted into the lock then the lock can probably me made to use that key.”

Then the customer says, “But the key doesn’t work in that lock.” Then you have to explain that you aren’t asking if the key works in the lock, only if the key can be inserted into the lock. It is sometimes a lot to ask for people to understand this concept and you have to explain it several times. Perhaps you will have to re-read the above a few times to understand the conundrum. If you are one of these people maybe you will have to go over to your door and try sticking random keys into your lock to understand the difference between a compatible key and a working key.

Sorry for going off on a tangent. Back to the issue, getting one key to work with a bunch of different locks. Most Schlage deadbolts can have aftermarket key in knob cylinders installed in them so I buy a lot of Kwikset kik cylinders. I charge $40 to put one in a deadbolt. You can’t put a Schlage cylinder in a Kwikset deadbolt though, they use a proprietary cylinder format. To their credit, Kwikset recently started selling Smartkey cylinders in Schlage’s SC1 keyway but if you want to install some other kind of keyway you’re out of luck. Medeco might make aftermarket cylinders in this proprietary format but that’s it as far as I know.

Schlage isn’t totally absolved of this mess either because they invented their goofy floating cap cylinders for the popular f series handlesets. They did used to manufacture cylinders for these in the Kwikset keyway and Medeco made afermarket cylinders for the old version of the F series but the floating cap was probably a deal breaker for Medeco who rightly recognized the nightmare that the floating cap would be in product support. Any locksmith will take a deep breath before launching into a tirade of loathing about the floating cap if you ask them about it.

The same thing with Weslock, aftermarket cylinders won’t fit into their locks because of their custom format. However when there is a will and enough money there is a way. You can modify a Weslock to accept the taller bible of a key in knob format cylinder. A customer recently had a blank cheque for getting their house working with one key which is good because I ran into problems rekeying their profile cylinder, but also was willing to pay me $75 to modify their Weslock. The guy who built the house could have very easily bought a Schlage compatible front door lock and saved this guy some money but I digress.

The trick is to take a die grinder or even a good HSS drill bit and ream out the area at the top of the cylinder housing about a 1/16″ until the cylinder slides in. Try to only remove the area at the very top, you don’t want the cylinder rotating around in that big area to the left. You could jam some wood in there I guess. A 5 pin cyinder can reuse the Weslock cylinder housing screw, a 6 pin would require a longer screw. Note the tailpiece is the Weslock original. You need a really long tailpiece and it has to be skinnier than a Schlage, GMS or Ilco tailpiece to fit through the bolt.

The final product

Nanawall Multipoint Lock Cylinders Don’t Use Normal Pins

Before considering getting a “Nanawall” installed here are some pitfalls for you to consider. TLDR: use SFIC pins or reuse the bottom pins in a different configuration.

The Nanawall appears to be a well constructed door, my issues are with the lock cylinder itself. The main problems with this lock cylinder are that it is an odd size so replacement will be difficult and that it doesn’t use standard .115″ diameter pins. That means when you call some poor sap like me out to rekey it we will have a real headache trying to get regular pins into it.

Locksmiths are used to problems with pinning up profile or euro cylinders as they are variously called. CES cylinders use different depths despite using the Schlage SC1 key. If you are lucky there are threaded caps for each chamber so that you more easily rekey them but it is still more laborious than some other lock cylinders. If you aren’t lucky then you have to take the profile cylinder apart with a special follower that most North American locksmiths won’t have or know how to use.

Enter the Nanawall profile cylinder. It does have the threaded caps. The factory pins come out easily enough. When you put a .115″ pin in it will go through the top of the cylinder but get stuck in the plug. Then you will spend maybe 30-45 minutes trying to get that pin out of there by eventually dismantling the cylinder to get the plug out. Then you will discover that the pin holes are drilled too small for normal pins. SFIC pins will work but this is a hack, it means that you will have to use a lot of extra top pins to build up the pin stack making the lock less secure. I would also like to say that it is very obnoxious of this manufacturer to use a cylinder whose bible is drilled for .115″ pins but whose plug is not. It will earn the ire of locksmiths everywhere!

Replacing this bastardization of a lock cylinder is not cheap or straightforward. In North America the profile cylinders available to us are shorter than those in the Nanawall. They wouldn’t work. Both GMS and Ilco make these and Ilco has two lengths but neither are long enough. Ilco is willing to custom make them for a price. If you want to buy a $200 profile cylinder Ilco will do it for you. Abloy will also make custom profile cylinders for the Protec2 but those are well over $500 each!

To sum it up unless you’re cool with keeping the keys that come with a Nanawall and using those in perpetuity or spending a ton of money in the future, steer clear! If I was going to rekey that house again knowing what I know now I would keep the bottom pins from the nanawall and rearrange them in a different order and codecut a key for that configuration to rekey the rest of the house with. That’s a workaround. It shouldn’t be necessary though, using .115″ pins should be an easy thing to design a modern lock cylinder around.

Interlock multipoint sliding door locks

Sliding door locks are notoriously crappy. Usually it is just one little hook holding the door shut and customers think that hook is going to keep them safe. Well I’m here to tell you that it won’t. Aside from the obvious shattering of the entire door a large screwdriver can pry the door away from the strike. The whole thing is screwed into vinyl usually and it is much less secure than probably every other door in your house.

Enter the Interlock sliding glass door lock. It has two hooks and two vertical rods to keep the door shut. This is ten times better than a regular cheap one hook lock from the hardware store. Unfortunately it is also a pain to replace these and you will have to replace them because despite its good design there are numerous failure points.

I made this video so that you don’t have to call Intertek. I’m not responsible for what you do.

This lock uses a cheesy little pinion gear made out of powdered metal. When everything is lined up it will work great but as soon as you get a meathead trying to use that door they will try to force the lock to work even if the vertical rods aren’t lined up with the holes that they are supposed to go into. The meathead may not be aware that there are even vertical rods so we can’t be too harsh with them, for they are used to the lower quality and more forgiving sliding point locks found more commonly in the USA.

I called interlock usa to ask them exactly how one gets their lock out. The receptionist forwarded my call to “tech support” to whom I explained my problem at which point the asshole promptly hung up on me. I immediately called the receptionist back who apologized for patching me in to their computer guy. She then suggested I call some third party company for tech support called GH2 Industries. That company cannot receive incoming calls according to the text message they sent me after I called.

This isn’t my first runaround with Intertek, I’ve spent thankless hours trying to get Intertek USA to support or at the very least point me to replacement parts. I’ve gotten literally nowhere with Intertek so at this point I gave up and decided to start prying the door apart. It came apart fairly quickly.

It turns out that this is probably the way you are supposed to replace this lock anyway. I think they probably would tell you to take the door out of the track so that you can unscrew the top guide for the vertical rod but I just bent the rod and pulled it out, it worked fine after reassembly. So just pry the edge off the side of the door the lock’s hooks come out of, then pull the top rod out, then pry the lock out of the door and disconnect the bottom rod.

Install the bottom rod back into the new lock, push the lock into the door, and reconnect the top rod. You might have to reconnect the top rod before pushing it into the top guide at the top of the door.

I recommend checking to see if the lock works properly at this point. Obviously the door has to be positioned over the holes in the threshold and ceiling or the lock will jam. Turn the square hub in the lock with a screwdriver and make sure it works before reattaching the trim and snapping the edge of the vinyl door back on. When reattaching the trim make sure that the pinion doesn’t have broken teeth facing the teeth in the handleset or it won’t work. You can rotate the pinion ninety degrees for fresh teeth.

At this point you should have a working door. Tell everybody how to use it before they break it again. Don’t let drunks or idiots or drunk idiots use this door. Though secure when locked it is easy to break while locking it. Good luck…

Key Codes and How to Use Them

Key codes are a big part of my day and simplifying it. They can also save the customer a ton of time and money! When I rekey a house or business I always tell the owner the bitting for their new keys if they are interested. With this information you can always get a key made whether you have a key or not. You’ll never be locked out for long. You must guard these numbers for this reason. Anybody can get a key made if they have the bitting, whether it’s the key to your property or not.

A key code is an alphanumeric code that is sometimes seen printed on a key or lock or both. It can either be numbers directly corresponding to the factory depths of the key (the cuts), or it could be a code used to obfuscate the cuts and to get the cuts one must either call the manufacturer or consult a code database like BlackHawk.

That’s how I go about it at least. Things are a little different for the end user. If you have the key code you can simply order replacement keys from the manufacturer or websites like This is usually pretty inexpensive and could be faster than scheduling an appointment with me two weeks in advance. You can also take the key code in to a brick and mortar locksmith shop and have them cut the key by code. No need to pay for a mobile locksmith service if you have a brick and mortar store staffed by competent locksmiths offering this service in your area.

Sometimes cutting the key by code doesn’t work. If the lock is damaged or corroded it is possible that no key at all will work. Somebody may have taken the lock apart and changed the wafers or pins in them to work with a different key in which case the stamped code would no longer work. In these cases a mobile locksmith such as myself could be the best solution to your problems unless you are able to remove the offending lock cylinder and replace it or bring the lock in to a brick and mortar.

Here is the difference between a code cut key and a really bad copy of a key. In the bottom left you can see some numbers stamped on the key. Those describe how to cut that key.

Here are some common situations people call me when they could solve their issues much more easily:

  • People with Yakima ski racks who lost their keys can go to “Rack and Road” where they have replacement cylinders and keys and the knowledge of how to replace them.
  • People with file cabinets can often order replacement keys by examining the lock face and searching for the alphanumeric code along with the word key on google or go to directly and search there.
  • People with bicycle locks or other types of padlocks can get more keys if they registered their product or if they have the little plastic thing with an alphanumeric code on it that came with the lock.
  • People with vehicles can sometimes get the manufacturer to give them the cuts for their key with proof of ownership and a vin number. A locksmith can usually cut a vehicle key if they are given the physical cuts for the key.

I would much rather people get their keys online than me going out and cutting one on site or having to waste a lot of time explaining how to do this over the phone. I have this tip in numerous places on my website just to avoid interactions like the following with M. Brennan:

120?? Just bought new key on for $8.50, your job is irrelevant nice try buddy. 

On Jul 21, 2022, at 10:49 PM, Maple Leaf Locksmith <> wrote:

yes np. cost to make a key is probably $120 total.

Sent from ProtonMail mobile

——– Original Message ——–
On Jul 20, 2022, 07:27, M Brennan <> wrote:


I bought a locking file cabinet and recently lost the keys, now it is locked shut and I was wondering: could I have it opened? And also, is it possible to have a new lock installed and keys made? Here is the file cabinet. Thank you very much.


Honestly, what a prick. Odds are his job is much less useful than mine! Don’t be this guy, just go buy the keys online in the first place if you have the key code.

On the Security of Fobs and Codes

Changes have come to the security of the shared front door utilizing keyless locks. For at least ten years people have enjoyed the convenience of keyless entry to their buildings. It is also much cheaper to maintain security of these locks when a fob is lost or somebody moves. Simply delete their credential from the lock and done. Contrast with the keyed entry: when one of the keys is lost the lock must be changed to a new key and new keys distributed to all residents. This can be very expensive for a large building.

So the fob then is a very inexpensive solution in the long term. Building management until now could assume that if the fob was returned at the end of a living arrangement that it could simply be issued to the next resident. This is no longer the case. Many fobs can now be copied. Key kiosks offer this service for $25 or so.

To the naked eye a fob or access card looks the same as any other but inside the credential the hardware varies. Some of them cannot be cloned as easily. That’s important when it comes to new technologies that offer inexpensive methods of cloning fobs illicitly. See this video offered by “The Lockpicking Lawyer” who is selling a tool that can be used to capture the conversation between a fob and reader.

This conversation can then be used to clone the fob. This is scary because in access control systems with logging features fobs are as good as a signature for who went through a door at a certain time. If someone’s fob is cloned then they might get in trouble for whatever nasty business is done after entry is gained with their credential.

The solution to all of this is to not use fobs that can be easily cloned. Rolling codes should be utilized and hopefully two factor authentication as well. This means that somebody presents a fob to the reader and then types in a code or uses a fingerprint reader or some other form of authentication.

If you have a building that uses fobs from ten years ago you probably need to consider updating your access control system’s security to something with rolling codes or iclass cards or something better than fixed code fobs which are the inexpensive $2 fobs most buildings use. I offer Alarm Lock locks that have two factor authenticating capabilities.

Smartkey Locks: So easy to rekey you can do it yourself!

A close-up of a smartkey cylinder
This is a Kwikset Smartkey lock. You can recognize them by the little slot to the left of the keyway when it’s installed right side up. Kwikset locks seem to be statistically more likely to be installed upside down. Baldwin also licenses this technology.

People call me every day to rekey their house for a variety of reasons. Sometimes there are legal issues or concerns for one’s safety and people just want their locks changed regardless of cost. I don’t mind coming out to rekey your smartkey locks but I feel bad charging for it since it is usually really easy to do. I charge half the usual rekey rate to rekey smartkey locks unless there is no working key.

If you want to save $100 or more you should try doing it yourself. Assuming the lock is in good working condition all you need is a smartkey tool or even a sim card tool and a new kwikset (or Baldwin Smartkey) key and you can follow the instructions in the following video:

They don’t always work. Smartkey technology is brilliant and a modern marvel but… There are a lot of reasons kwikset smartkey locks fail:

  • The key must be cut close to manufacturer standards. Kwikset keys that work with smartkey must be cut at five specific places on the key to one of six specific depths at those places. If the key isn’t cut like this it can cause the lock to malfunction permanently. I believe this happens when turning an improperly cut key in the lock which bends the little metal guide pins or the serrations in the wafers they are supposed to mate with.
The 4th guide pin from the left is jacked up. So was one of the six serrations in the wafer but I didn’t think to include it in the picture.
  • The smartkey cylinders have very delicate workings as seen above. If they are exposed to rainwater for several years or people try to lubricate them with WD-40 alternating with graphite they will not rekey properly.
  • The KW1 keyway is looser than a lot of other keyways which makes them a PITA to masterkey. It also means that the key can be put in at an angle instead of straight. If you rekey one of these locks make sure that the key is not on a heavy keyring pulling the head of the key down. To unlock the door you would then have to pull the key down while turning it.
  • Trying to rekey these to a Kwikset key that isn’t cut to Kwikset spec. There are a lot of manufacturers that use the Kw1 keyway but use different spacing and depths. They won’t work well if at all. EZSet uses Weiser depths instead of Kwikset depths. Don’t try to rekey these to any key that isn’t Kwikset. I would recommend only using keys that actually say Kwikset on them to be sure. Then you can make copies from that key.

If you mess something up you can call Kwikset or Baldwin tech support, they will probably warranty your lock depending on how old it is. If they won’t, you have choices. You can replace the Smartkey cylinder with a new one. Kwikset finally started selling Smartkey cylinders compatible with Schlage C keyway locks so you can finally consolidate your keys without replacing the entire lock. There are numerous form factors for their handlesets but the deadbolt cylinders seem to be standardised.

If you want me to fix it for you I’m happy to do so. You can bring the lock to me by appointment or you can pay me a service call to come to your location and fix or replace your cylinder on the spot.

This whole post is pretty diy but if you are interested in how to rekey one of these cylinders without a working key then either buy a rekey cradle or a “better resetter” or watch the following video. I have never invested in a Kwikset Smartkey rekey cradle. I have a better resetter tool but it fell behind some stuff in my van a year ago so this is how I reset smartkey lock cylinders now:

I forgot to mention in the video that the shim is very useful if your working key doesn’t lift all of the wafers up high enough to slide the cover off. If that is the case you can push them out of the way and slide the shim over them.

How to rekey a Kwikset Smartkey cylinder with no working key

There are lots of things that can go wrong doing this and I refuse to accept any responsibility for what happens if you decide to do this. It probably voids your warranty, do it at your own risk. Do it over a surface in case you drop springs or little bits so you can find them again.

The only thing you really need is a screwdriver or other object to remove the c clip and a shim and a key you want to work in the cylinder. Search google for how to get a shim from a dvd package or something.

Next remove the c clip.

Put the key in. (You may be able to skip the next step depending on the cuts of your key.) This moves some little bits out of the way for your shim, slide the shim in between the housing and the little bits that moved out of the way.

When the shim is pushed all the way in there pull the plug out along with your key, it slides out very easily because of some ball bearings. Don’t let those fall out or if they do keep them to put back in later.

Now remove the two halves of the plug as seen in the video. The five sliding objects have to be lined up as in the video. Recombine the two halves and ensure that the smaller half slides back and forth. That means it worked. Now put it back together again and put it in the door.

If it malfunctioned before don’t trust it, it might malfunction again. You can remove malfunctioning sliders and replace them.