Lock Keyways For Access Control Guide

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Mar 23, 2017

Lock keyways can be the difference between a lock working or not. Understanding keyways is important for access control. Indeed, a member recently commented:

My biggest problem is specifying the right hardware with the wrong keyway

In this note, we examine keyways, identify which ones are most commonly used, how to identify them, and how they improve lock security.

Keyways Explained

The hole inside a lock is designed to fit specific shapes of keys. This key path is critically important, because not only does it keep potentially invalid keys out, it also precisely indexes a valid key in the right spot to move pins for unlocking it:

If not properly identified, the keyway will physically prevent a key from fitting into it.  Within the context of physical access control, proper keyway identification is as fundamental as choosing the right lock type or evaluating door swing.

Common Keyways

In the commercial door hardware market, there are thousands of different lock keyway profiles, but comparatively few are widely used. In terms of modern mainstream global use, these five keyways are the most commonly adopted:

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