How to Recognise a Mortice Lock

A common question that locksmiths are likely to hear is ‘what type of lock is a mortice lock?’ A colleague of mine who runs a Coventry locksmith business once told me that while everyone can identify a Yale lock, many people do not know what a mortice lock looks like.

Mortice locks (or mortise locks in the US) require the locksmith to chisel a hole into a door frame. This is a complicated, skilled job, and should not be attempted by anyone who does not have full training, as any slip will decrease the level of security that your lock will provide. I would strongly advise that you choose an experienced, professional locksmith service to do this work for you.

Mortice locks are different from other locks because they are installed on the inside of the door frame instead of on the surface. This provides much more security, particularly if the lock you choose has 5 levers. British insurers often stipulate this style of lock as a minimum requirement, and by complying with their requests, you may be able to save money on your premiums.

The keys for mortice locks are easy to identify. In contrast to the modern Yale-style keys, keys for mortice locks are designed in a way that many people would say is ‘old-fashioned’. The keys have a long, narrow stem or shank with a square shaped ‘bit’ moulded on to the end. The bit is then cut in a unique pattern to allow the lock to be worked, with the unique profile lifting individual levers. Highly skilled locksmiths are often able to manipulate the lock by picking these levers, although this is a talent that can take years of practice.

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