Locks and locking actions

The Victorians fitted locks to everything, even their whisky (hence the whisky tantalus), but the modern tendency is to dispense with them wherever possible, while the cheap pattern single-lever pressed-steel locks often fitted to mass-produced furniture can only be regarded as catches or securing devices, for they offer little or no protection. Thus if locks must be fitted for protection they should be the best of their respective kind.

Locks are made to require different keys by increasing the number or the position of the levers or gates which must be lifted by the key before it will shoot the dead bolt; by enlarging the diameter of the pin; and by shortening the pin socket in the key. Thus four good four-lever brass locks taken from the same dozen box and requiring different keys can often be adapted to accept one master key by rearranging the order of the levers, or drilling out the socket in the key to fit the different pins; and as delivery of special 'differs' or master keying can often take up to 12 months, some adaptation (including taking out one or more levers if they do not fit) is sometimes necessary, although not to be recommended if it can possibly be avoided. Purpose-made individual locks of beautiful workmanship can still be obtained and, although obviously much more expensive than the one-, two- or four-lever brass lock with cast riveted cap, are not out of proportion to the total making cost of a good piece of furniture. If maximum protection is required Yale-type locks with projecting cylinder nozzles can be obtained from stock which will give an infinite number of differs, with master keying up to 200 differs if required.

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