How Does a Locksmith Tumble Locks? 

In lock tumbling, a locksmith replaces the tumblers or pins in a lock. There are several reasons a locksmith may need to tumble a lock. These include breaking or catching a key, or a malfunction of the lock. To determine whether a lock needs to be tumbled, a locksmith will check its condition. A lock’s key pins and groove depths must match the keys that were used in the lock. If they are incorrect, the lock will not open. The locksmith will also replace or rekey the lock’s tumblers, or pins. 

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To tumble a lock, a locksmith uses a special tool. This tool is called a rake. This tool is made of metal and has a round or square bottom. It is designed to lift and manipulate more than one pin tumbler at a time. For example, a rake can lift three tumblers at a time, or seven tumblers at a time. 

Once the rake has lifted the tumblers, the lock’s plug will rotate freely. Once the tumblers are removed, the lock’s mechanism will rotate to engage the locking bolt. 

As the lock’s cylinder rotates, the bump key inserted in the keyway creates a temporary shear line. The bump key, which looks like a set of sharp teeth, strikes the corresponding pins to generate energy. That energy is transferred to the pins inside the lock. The pins then jump and disrupt the lock. 

Before tumbling a lock, a locksmith must identify the correct pins. Each key has five notches that correspond to the height of the pins in the lock. However, different keys raise and lower the tumblers in the lock at different heights. When a key is used in the lock, it moves the pegs in the key upwards, lifting the pins in the lock. 

Locks come in a variety of different sizes. Some have 30 parts, while others have less than 30. The majority of locks have a spring. Springs help ensure that the lock is not stuck. Often, these springs are metal, but they can be made from different types of metal. 

A lock’s key pins must be cut to a specified depth. These pins are also rounded to reduce friction and prevent key stagger. They must also be matched with the key’s ridges and notches. Pins that are cut to the wrong depth will cause the key to catch on the pins. 

Tumbling a lock is not always easy. Sometimes, a locksmith will need to disassemble the lock and remove the pins and the internal mechanism. Other times, a locksmith will need to add lubricant to the lock to maintain its functionality. Occasionally, a lock may be sent to a quality control station for a second round of inspection. 

Unlike regular lock tumbling, rekeying a lock is not as complicated. Rekeying involves replacing the existing pins, which allows the lock to be opened with a new key. Generally, rekeying costs $20 to $50 on average, depending on the type of lock.