Making small lock parts

Making small lock parts

Every now and then we need a small part that is not commercially available. Lock pins are a good example of these small parts. Most lock pins are commercially available, but if you want a custom part you pretty much have to make it yourself.

Commercially made lock pins are made on a special type of lathe called an Escomatic lathe where the material does not move and the cutting tools rotate around the brass stock. This method of manufacturing is much better for making small parts as centrifugal force and flexing of the material are less of a concern.

CNC Lathe

We don’t have an Escomatic lathe, so to make lock pins we are using a conventional CNC Lathe.
CNC or computer controlled lathe makes repetition much more consistent and faster. The flex in the stock material does mean we have to use a bit of trial and error to get the diameter and size correct.

The tooling used for our lock pins is a specially ground high speed steel cutting tool. The tool has a very fine cutting edge to minimize flex of the stock material. The lock pin in the video below also required a very small hole drilled in the pin. A tungsten carbide drill was used to drill the hole.

CNC lathe operation

Using this setup we can quite quickly manufacture different custom pin designs. the changes made in the structure of the code are usually quite minimal and the tooling is usually able to be kept fairly standard.
As locksmiths we are only doing short runs and sometimes only require a few parts to be made for a specific job. Large runs would have to be outsourced at a much higher cost.

BTW- Lock pins are the parts inside the lock cylinder that go up and down when you insert your key. They are of different sizes to match the cuts in your key.

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