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Wafer Tumbler Locks - Lock Picking Net - Dictionary of Locksmithing


The wafer tumbler lock was Invented as a cheap security lock that offered a reasonable degree of security to the owner. These Wafer locks are make up over one-fourth of all the locks in the world. The outside of a Wafer tumbler lock resembles the popular pin tumbler lock, but uses a much more simpler mechanism. The keyways of a Wafer lock usually have simple side ward indentions. The key is usually shorter than that of other types of locks, but equally broad. It could be cut on one or both sides. A two sided wafer lock is often called a "double wafer." The lock consists of four main parts. The plug housing, which contains the wafers and springs, the shell, the cam also known as the locking bolt, and the retainer. The wafers are sometimes referred to as "discs" because their top and bottom are rounded to fit into the cylinder.

Each Wafer lock has a series of chambers in which the wafers rest. These spacing closest to the front of the lock is numbered with one, and their numbers increase toward the back of the lock.

Each wafer is equal in overall size, but the key slots are of varying height. A metal spring exerts pressure on the spring wing of each wafer, forcing its lower part into the shell's "locking grooves" which lets the lower portion hang about midway into the keyway. Looking into the lock, you should be able to see this. These wafers act to hold the plug and shell together, preventing the lock from turning.

When the correct key is inserted into the cylinder, it goes through the key slots on each wafer, raising the wafers out of the locking groove. The key must have the appropriate depth of cut in each position to raise the wafer the correct amount. The depth of the key's cut and the length of the wafer's key slot is any one of five different depths. The shorter the top edge of the wafer's key slot, the lower the key cut depth value. For instance the number 1 slot (the slot that is the largest) would require the shallowest cut in the key.

Usually lock manufacturers place a number four or five wafer near the keyhole to block the view of the back wafers. Also note that the same type of wafer may appear several times in the same lock.

On some brands of wafer tumbler lock you will see a small hole. When the lock has been unlocked, you can remove the entire lock plug by inserting a piece of stiff wire into this hole and depressing the retainer. Though nowhere near as secure as the pin tumbler lock, the wafer tumbler is a very popular, low cost lock. The lock is normally found on cheaper cabinets and desks, some padlocks, some automobile locks, locking handles, and trailer doors. Where more security is desired, the double wafer type is used, providing wafers on the top and bottom of the keyway.

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