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Cylindrical Locks – The Advantages & Disadvantages

cylindrical locks

There are a wide variety of lock types in use today. Some are old varieties that can almost be considered antiques (and in some old houses, actually are antiques). Others are extremely high-tech, such as locks that require your fingerprint to engage in locking or unlocking. Most other locks fall somewhere in between. One of the more common types of “in-between” lock used for both commercial and residential purposes is the cylindrical lock. Here are all the details you need to know about it if you’re considering what type of lock to have installed on your house or business.

What is a Cylindrical Lock?

A cylindrical lock goes through the whole door. Not every type of lock does this, so that sets the cylindrical lock apart from other types of locks at the start. The ends of the lock have a knob or lever on each end (so one on either side of the door). The knob or lever retracts the latch on the lock when it is turned or pressed.

The most common way of installing a cylindrical lock is through the “boring” method. In this method, two holes are bored into the door at perpendicular angles to each other. One hole is larger than the other, and is bored into the face of the door. A smaller hole is bored into the side of the door. The side hole adds an extra layer of security for the lock by allowing a metal bar to be inserted through it. The bar is retracted through the side hole when a key is used on it, and the door is allowed to be opened through the latch retraction of turning the knob or pressing the lever. It is a two-fold locking mechanism, and is seen in some variety or other on most modern commercial and residential locks.

The Invention of the Cylindrical Lock

Cylindrical LockThis type of lock was invented in 1909 by Walter Schlage. Its development was the result of the need to build a more inexpensive lock. Its predecessor, the mortise lock, was much more complex in construction, and therefore more expensive to build. This was true in both the parts needed to build it and the labor needed to assemble it. The cylindrical lock was a lot simpler in design and easier to construct, so it could be built for much less money, and thus sold more cheaply to the public.

Its inexpensive price helped it to quickly catch on among the public, and soon, the cylindrical lock began replacing the mortise lock as the main type of lock people were using for commercial and residential purposes. It was just as functional as the mortise lock, so those that used it didn’t notice any difference in its ease of use or in the security it provided. As a result, you don’t see too many mortise locks anymore, except in very old houses and other antique buildings.

The Advantages of Cylindrical Locks

advantages of cylindrical locks Cylindrical locks can be installed very quickly in most cases. With mortise locks, a pocket for the mortise needed to be drilled into the door and then chiseled out even more by hand. This was a time-consuming process. The cylindrical lock only requires a drill to drill the two holes in the door. With electric drills, this can be done in hardly any time at all, and the lock can be installed in less than an hour by a skilled locksmith.


Once the holes are drilled, the parts of the lock are pushed or snapped into place, secured with screws where necessary, and the lock is ready to use. No deadbolt is required unless you particularly want one. Sometimes, the lock can be installed even more quickly than that by eliminating the need for drilling. There are some doors that are sold with holes pre-drilled in them for the installation of cylindrical locks. It doesn’t get much more convenient than that.

There are also a vast variety of styles and finishes available for cylindrical locks. This means you can choose locks that match the color, finish, and/or style of your house. This is something that is not available with most other types of locks. Cylindrical locks also come in a wide variety of prices. While most of them are far less expensive than other types of locks, you can always choose an extra high-end one if it fits your security needs or style preferences. For example, most cylindrical locks come in either residential, light commercial, or heavy-duty varieties in terms of durability. The amount of security you need will determine the durability level of the lock you purchase, as well as its price cylindrical locks are highly customizable to anyone’s needs.

The Disadvantages of Cylindrical Locks

The biggest disadvantage of the cylindrical lock is that it is not typically as strong as the other types of locks. Even with heavy-duty strength locks, an enterprising and determined burglar could break the lock by putting enough pressure on it. With the lightest locks, a strong hand can do this. High-security locks may require specialized equipment to break, but it can still be done with enough time and pressure. While other locks are not invulnerable to breaking or picking, the cylindrical lock seems to be especially vulnerable to it.

Also, while deadbolts are not required with cylindrical locks, you need to plan ahead if you do choose to use one. If you don’t buy the same brand of lock for your cylindrical lock as well as your deadbolt, you will need two different keys to open your door. This is obviously a situation you will want to avoid since getting into your building should be a simple matter for you for safety reasons.

Cylindrical locks are very common and convenient. If you are building a house or a commercial building and are looking for a cost-effective lock that can be used on every door in the structure, the cylindrical lock is the one that will offer you the most advantages for your money. Look into getting the one with the durability you require, and you will likely never be disappointed with your lock choice.

Learn more about Important Locks Throughout History.

If you have questions about cylindrical locks, we would be more than happy to help you. Give us a call at (610) 644-5334 or message us using our online form and we will answer any questions you may have.

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