The History of Locks

Ancient Lock Devices

Locks and keys have been around for aeons. In the ruins of Nineveh, the capital of ancient Assyria, the earliest known lock and key were discovered. This kind of lock was developed by the Egyptians – they created a wooden pin lock. This was made of a bolt, key, and door fixture. With insertion of the key, the pins withdrew from the drilled holes within the bolt, allowing the lock to be turned. With no key in the lock, the pins would sit in the bolt, which prevented movement.

Another lock that has been known since antiquity, which is recognisable today, is the warded lock. English craftsmen are said to have invented these all-metal locks between 870 and 900AD. Theodore of Samos is said to have invented the key in the 6th century BC. In Roman times, affluent people frequently kept their valuables in safe boxes within their homes. They would wear the keys as rings on their fingers, to keep the key handy, and to show their wealth.

Modern Lock Devices

When the industrial revolution came in the late 18th century, with it came precision engineering and the standardisation of components. Out of this came locks and keys with more complexity and refinement.

In 1778, Robert Barron perfected the lever tumbler lock. This lock utilises a set of levers which prevents the bolt from moving within the lock. His lock featured a double acting lever, which meant that the lock could not be opened if the lever was moved too far or not enough. This style of lock is still in use.

In 1818, Jeremiah Chubb vastly improved the lever tumbler lock. The Portsmouth Dockyard was burgled, prompting the British Government to proclaim a competition to make a lock that could only be opened with the one and only correct key. Chubb produced the Chubb detector lock, which included an essential security feature that would impede unauthorised attempts at access, and would also show that it had been interfered with. £100 was awarded to Chubb when after three months, a trained lock picker was still unable to pick the lock.

Stay tuned to this blog for more history of locks, brought to you by Out and About Locksmiths.


Full Disclosure

The Concept

There is a concept in the lock world known as full disclosure. It entails the full details of a security vulnerability being made public, including how to find and exploit the weakness. The idea behind this is that when a security system’s weakness is exposed, a fix will be put in place faster. This is not only in the name of better security, but also for a better image for security companies. The window of exposure is reduced in this scenario.


This issue was first raised in a 19th century controversy about revealing lock system weaknesses to the public.

“A commercial, and in some respects a social doubt has been started within the last year or two, whether or not it is right to discuss so openly the security or insecurity of locks. Many well-meaning persons suppose that the discussion respecting the means for baffling the supposed safety of locks offers a premium for dishonesty, by showing others how to be dishonest. This is a fallacy. Rogues are very keen in their profession, and know already much more than we can teach them respecting their several kinds of roguery.

Rogues knew a good deal about lock-picking long before locksmiths discussed it among themselves, as they have lately done. If a lock, let it have been made in whatever country, or by whatever maker, is not so inviolable as it has hitherto been deemed to be, surely it is to the interest of honest persons to know this fact, because the dishonest are tolerably certain to apply the knowledge practically; and the spread of the knowledge is necessary to give fair play to those who might suffer by ignorance.

It cannot be too earnestly urged that an acquaintance with real facts will, in the end, be better for all parties. Some time ago, when the reading public was alarmed at being told how London milk is adulterated, timid persons deprecated the exposure, on the plea that it would give instructions in the art of adulterating milk; a vain fear, milkmen knew all about it before, whether they practiced it or not; and the exposure only taught purchasers the necessity of a little scrutiny and caution, leaving them to obey this necessity or not, as they pleased.”

A. C. Hobbs (Charles Tomlinson, ed.), Locks and Safes: The Construction of Locks. Published by Virtue & Co., London, 1853 (revised 1868).


Here at Out and About Locksmiths, we hope you enjoyed this blog.

Home Security

One of the most common crimes is house break and enters. In many cases this is due to a house having an unlocked window or door.

Security Measures

There is a range of measures you can take to maximise your home security. These methods don’t cost a lot, and can reduce your risk of burglary.

  • Make sure all your doors and windows have key-operated locks, and most importantly, remember to use them!
  • Don’t place spare keys in obvious places like under the doormat.
  • If you have an alarm system, make sure it is working and remember to activate it every time you leave the house. It may seem like a hassle to use it when you’re just popping down to the shops, but is it really worth the risk of getting robbed?
  • Get items of value police engraved or microdotted.
  • Become acquainted with your neighbours. Make sure you have each other’s phone numbers, and watch each other’s homes for suspicious activity. By being observant, you can reduce prowling and loitering. Report this kind of activity to the police.
  • Join the local neighbourhood watch group.
  • Make sure your house is secure even when you are at home.
  • When hiring a gardener or house cleaner, make sure to check their references for reliability.
  • Remove keys from internal doors and windows when you’re not at home.
  • If your alarm system is faulty and goes off frequently, get it fixed immediately, and tell the neighbours that there was a fault. People ignore alarms that go off too often.
  • Make sure salespeople who ask to enter your home are legitimate. You can do this by calling their office.
  • Make it seem like someone’s home when you’re away by leaving a light on or the radio playing. You can use timing devices to add more realism. Turn down the volume on your house phone.
  • Keep keys, cash, and valuables out of sight and well hidden.
  • Don’t leave a note on the door – this is a dead giveaway that the home is vacant.
  • Make sure your house or unit number is clearly visible in case of an emergency.
  • Know alternative ways of exiting your house in case you have an intruder.
  • Call 000 in an emergency, and have other important numbers on speed dial.
  • If your house does get broken into, don’t touch anything so the evidence is not destroyed before the police arrive.

If you do get locked out of your house accidentally, you know you can call Out and About Locksmiths at any time.

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General Information

In most countries, the traditional trade of locksmithing requires the completion of an apprenticeship. The formal education level varies depending on the country – from a simple training certificate awarded by an employer to a full diploma from an engineering college. Locksmiths come in a variety of types: commercial (working from a storefront), mobile (working from a vehicle), institutional, or investigational (forensic locksmiths). They may be specialists in one aspect of the skill, like automotive lock specialists, master key system specialists, or safe technicians. Many locksmiths are also security consultants, however not all security consultants have the knowledge and skills of a locksmith.

In the past, locksmiths repaired or constructed entire locks, including their parts, however, with the advent of cheap mass-production, this has become less common. Most locks are simply replaced if damaged. This excepts most high-security safes and strongboxes. Locksmiths also frequently work on existing door hardware such as door closers, frame repairs, electric strikes, and hinges. They also service electronic locks, for example making transponder keys for vehicles, and implementing access control systems.

While fitting and replacement of keys is still an important aspect of locksmithing, these days locksmiths are mainly involved in the installation of high quality lock sets, and the management, implementation, and design of keying and key control systems. Locksmiths are frequently needed to ascertain the level of risk to an institution or an individual, and then advise and implement correct combinations of policies and equipment to create a security layer that surpasses the reasonable threat of a potential intruder.

Out and About Locksmiths

Here at Out and About Locksmiths, we offer a mobile locksmithing service that is available 24/7. We install locks, cut keys, advise about security systems and general home security, cater to commercial clients, cut car keys (including transponders), and we are an SCEC approved locksmith. Contact us today!

Don’t Get Locked Out Again

Have you ever been locked out of your own home? It can be embarrassing, and even dangerous. This can be a stressful and inconvenient situation, and it takes time and hassle to get back inside. Here at Out and About Locksmiths, we’ve put together some precautions you should take to avoid this.

Keep Track of Your Keys

This is a straightforward point. Use a system to keep your keys in the same place all the time, for example a key hook by the door.

Develop a Checking Habit

To ensure you never forget important items when leaving the house, make a mental note every time. For example: “I’ve got my wallet, keys and phone”. You will find this greatly reduces the chances of locking yourself out. You can even say this out loud if it helps reduce your anxiety about forgetting.

Hold Your Keys in Your Hand

If you’ve forgotten something inside the house and return to grab it, keep the keys in your hand – don’t put them down on a table or you might forget to pick them back up before you leave again.

Back Up Your Keys

Pre-emptively distribute spare keys amongst friends, neighbours, and family whom you trust. This makes getting back inside a breeze. You can just make a call or take a short walk and you’re back inside. You can also keep a spare key at work or in your car.

Digital Locks

An alternative to keys is digital locks. They are secure, convenient, and easy for a qualified locksmith to install. They can be programmed with different entry codes.

Spare Key Safe

Never just hide a spare key outside your house. This makes it far too easy for intruders to get in. A good option is a wall-mounted safe. These tough, coded containers are a safe backup option.

Although being locked out can be an emergency and we’ve all done it, following some of these pointers should drastically reduce or eliminate the likelihood of it happening again. Make sure you put our number in your phone – 0431 515 640. This way you will always have someone to turn to just in case.

Apart from calling us, you can contact us here.

New High-Security Lock from The Australian Lock Company

BiLock Exclusive

The widely recognised BiLock high-security master key system has been improved.

The Australian Lock Company has been a leader in security since 1980, and it has been the leading choice for high-security installations such as the Royal Australian Mint, international airports, Las Vegas casinos, Bank of America, military and security establishments, and industrial and civic sites.

Fewer keys are needed with this system, which means lower costs for security administrators.

It is recognised by the official government security advisor, the Security Construction and Equipment Committee (SCEC).

Uses and Features

The BiLock can be used for almost any lock in your organisation, including your existing lock hardware. It’s unbeatably economical.

Master locksmith Mr Brian Preddey, the inventor, has devised additional 14th and 15th elements, meaning that the BiLock’s 16.8 million combinations are protected with two unique codes. Exclusive factory-allocated codes allow unprecedented key control and ultimate security.

It is protected against imitation or replication by a 20-year patent.

Its applications include door locks, padlocks, rim locks, switchlocks, mortise cylinder locks, cabinet locks, and more.

You can easily upgrade your earlier BiLock sites to BiLock exclusive.

Its lock core can quickly be changed due to the re-engineered next-generation Quick Core Change key. This drastically reduces the length of a breach due to lost keys or other incidents, and provides top security at greatly reduced maintenance and servicing costs.

It comes standard with a high-tensile steel anti-drill barrier, in compliance with AS4145.2. 22 keyhead colour options are available, as well as compatibility with electronic access control systems. The keyhead colour options can be used in 8500 combinations for secure key identity. MiFare chips can be installed in the keyheads for integration into access control systems.

Constant innovation and development has built a global reputation for The Australian Lock Company’s high security products.

We stock BiLock here At Out and About Locksmiths.

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ASSA ABLOY Apprentice Day

ASSA ABLOY has held a successful locksmith apprentice day at its Portobello site in the West Midlands (UK) for the second year in a row.

They hosted the 10 apprentices signed up to the Locksmith Level 2 Apprenticeship as part of their commitment to the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) and Skills for Security apprenticeship partnership.

The theme of the open day was ‘Past, Present and Future’. It consisted of manufacturing facility tours and practical product assembly sessions. It provided an insight into the future of the industry, especially pertaining to smart home technology.

Steve Ross, from the team who delivered the training on the day, said: “This programme is an excellent way to connect with the next generation of locksmiths, and is a great forum to allow us to share our knowledge and experience whilst also discussing trends for the future. After all, it is these young individuals who will become tomorrow’s business leaders and who will help take the industry into the digital word – exciting times indeed.”

He also said: “It is important that these young locksmith entrepreneurs are made aware of how fast our industry is changing, and see the opportunities which exist beyond the traditional mechanical world. Notwithstanding this, the mechanical world is still a significant part of the industry, and is the bread and butter of most locksmith businesses. The digital revolution brings with it fantastic opportunities with ‘smart home’ technology and app based management growing at a phenomenal rate. Security products are part of this revolution, as can be seen within the Smart Living portfolio of solutions from Yale.

“It’s great to spend time with these apprentices at the beginning of their careers within the industry, and we hope that our overview of the history of locking from 4000 BC through to the exciting world of tomorrow will help them on their way.”

At the end of the day, each apprentice was presented with a commemorative plaque as a memento.

For more information, visit ASSA ABLOY.

BSides Canberra

If you’re in the security industry or just interested in security in general, you should get along to the BSides Canberra conference.

What is BSides?

“Each BSides is a community-driven framework for building events for and by information security community members.  The goal is to expand the spectrum of conversation beyond the traditional confines of space and time.  It creates opportunities for individuals to both present and participate in an intimate atmosphere that encourages collaboration. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from participants. It is where conversations for the next-big-thing are happening.” –

BSides Canberra Conference

BSides Canberra is an annual two-day security conference. It is open for discussion and debate to security professionals, academics, hackers, and hobbyists.

BSides General Admission includes:

  • Two days of single-track security presentations and interactive workshops
  • Opportunity to participate in the Capture-the-Flag (CTF) competition
  • Access to Physical security area including – Hardware, Wireless, Lockpicking & Tamperproof
  • Breakout areas and licensed bar for socialising & networking
  • Free T-shirt
  • Electronic badge
  • Conference booklet & sticker
  • Entry to the Friday night conference party
  • Entry to the Saturday night conference party

Lockpicking Workshop

If you’re interested in the workings of locks and security devices, this workshop should appeal to you. The workshop focuses on the operation of fundamental physical security hardware and its weaknesses. It is a physical security demonstration and participation area.
You can learn about lock vulnerabilities and try lockpicking on locks of various levels of difficulty. There will also be the chance to compete in the Australian BSides lockpicking competition.

Tamper Evident Workshop

There will be a new workshop at this year’s BSides – Tamper Evident Workshop. This focuses on “Tamper Evident Seals”, which are security mechanisms designed to show if someone has accessed something or somewhere without authorisation. The workshop will provide tamper evident seals for participants to try their hands at bypassing. Different methods will be explored, such as physical attacks with precision instruments, or chemical solvents. This area of security is often overlooked and BSides aims to further develop security measures to make our information and premises safer.

More information about BSides Canberra can be found here.