Glossary of Terms

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*ALL – SECTION KEY BLANK  n. The key section that enters all keyways of a multiplex system.

BITTING  n. 1. The number(s) that represent(s) the dimensions of the key.  2. The actual cut(s) or combination of a key.

BITTING LIST  n. A listing of all the key combinations used within a system. The combinations are usually arranged in order of the blind code, direct code, and/or key symbol.

BOW  n. The portion of the key that serves as a grip or handle.

*BUMPING  n. One of many methods used to open locks with the use of “bump keys” that leave no sign of physical attack.

CAM  n. 1. A lock or cylinder component that transfers the rotational motion of a key or cylinder plug to the bolt works of a lock.  2. The bolt of a cam lock.

CHANGE KEY  n. 1. A key that operates only one cylinder or one group of keyed alike cylinders in a keying system.  2. Any device that is used to mechanically or electronically allow resetting of certain key or combination locks.

COMBINATE  v. To set a combination in a lock, cylinder, or key.

COMPOSITE KEYWAY  n. A keyway that has been enlarged to accept more than one key section, often key sections of more than one manufacturer.

CONSTRUCTION CORE  n. An interchangeable or removable core designed for use during the construction phase of a building. The cores are normally keyed alike and, upon completion of construction, they are to be replaced by the permanent system's cores.

CONSTRUCTION MASTER KEY (CMK)  n. A key normally used by construction personnel for a temporary period during building construction. It may be rendered permanently inoperative without disassembling the cylinder.

CONTROL KEY  n. 1. A key whose only purpose is to remove and/or install an interchangeable or removable core.  2. A bypass key used to operate and/or reset some combination type locks.  3. A key that allows disassembly of some removable cylinder locks.

CONTROLLED CROSS KEYING  n. A condition in which two or more different keys of the same level of keying and under the same higher level key(s) operate one cylinder by design: e.g., XAA1 operated by AA2.

Note: This condition could severely limit the security of the cylinder and the maximum expansion of the system when (1) more than a few of these different keys operate a cylinder, or (2) more than a few differently cross keyed cylinders per system are required.

CORE  n. A complete unit, often with a “figure eight” shape, which usually consists of the plug, shell, tumblers, springs, plug retainer and spring cover(s). It is primarily used in removable and interchangeable core cylinders and looks.

CROSS KEYING  n. The deliberate process of combinating a cylinder (usually in a master key system) to two or more different keys which would not normally be expected to operate it together. See also "controlled cross keying” and “uncontrolled cross keying."

CUT KEY  n. A key that has been bitted or combinated.

DAY KEY n. 1. The key for a day gate or day operation of a safe or vault lock. 2. A cash register key that does not allow audit or reset functions. 3. See 'change key'.

*DISPOSABLE CONSTRUCTION CORE  n. Used with interchangeable core keying, where non-essential locking doors are used within a construction project. Locks are supplied with disposable plastic cores.

DUMMY CYLINDER  n. A non-functional facsimile of a rim or mortise cylinder used for appearance only, usually to conceal a cylinder hole.

HIGH SECURITY CYLINDER  n. A cylinder that offers a greater degree of resistance to any two or more of the following: picking, impressioning, key duplication, drilling or other forms of forcible entry.

*HOUSING  n. The part of a locking device that is designated to hold a core.

INTERCHANGEABLE CORE  n. A key removable core that can be used in all or most of the core manufacturer's product line. No tools (other than the control key) are required for removal of the core.

KEY BITTING ARRAY (KBA)  n. A matrix (graphic) display of all possible bittings for change keys and master keys as related to the top master key.

KEY CABINET  n. A cabinet with hooks, Velcro, or other means designed to store keys systematically.

*KEY CHANGES  n. The total possible number of different keys available for a given type of tumbler mechanism.

KEY CONTROL  n. 1. Any method or procedure that limits unauthorized acquisition of a key and/or controls distribution of authorized keys.  2. A systematic organization of keys and key records.

KEY INTERCHANGE  n. An undesirable condition, usually in a master key system, whereby a key unintentionally operates a cylinder or lock.

KEY SECTION  n. The exact cross sectional configuration of a key blade as viewed from the bow toward the tip.

KEY SYMBOL  n. A designation used for a key combination in the standard key coding system, e.g., A, AA, AA1, etc.

KEY SYSTEM SCHEMATIC  n. A drawing with blocks utilizing keying symbols, usually illustrating the hierarchy of all keys within a master key system. It indicates the structure and total expansion of the system.

KEYED ALIKE (KA)  adj. Of or pertaining to two or more looks or cylinders which have or are to have the same combination. They may or may not be part of a keying system.

KEYED DIFFERENT (KD)  adj. Of or pertaining to a group of locks or cylinders, each of which is or is to be combinated differently from the others. They may or may not be part of a keying system 

KEYING  n. Any specification for how a cylinder or group of cylinders are or are to be combinated in order to control access.

KEYING CONFERENCE  n. A meeting of the end-user and the keying system supplies at which the keying and levels of keying, including future expansion, are determined and specified.

KEYING SCHEDULE  n. A detailed specification of the keying system listing how all cylinders are to be keyed and the quantities, markings and shipping instructions of all keys and/or cylinders to be provided.

KEYWAY  n. 1. The opening in a lock or cylinder that is shaped to accept the key bit or blade of a proper configuration.  2. The exact cross sectional configuration of a keyway as viewed from the front. It is not necessarily the same as the key section.

LARGE FORMAT INTERCHANGEABLE CORE (LFIC) n. 1. A key removable core that can be used in all or most of the core manufacturer’s product line. No tools (other than the control key) are required for removal of the core.  2. Recognized as a core having a universal figure 8 shape, and is generally unique in size to a specific manufacturer.  3. An interchangeable core that is too large to fit into a small format interchangeable core housing.

LEVELS OF KEYING  n. The divisions of a master key system into hierarchies of access. 

MASTER KEY  n. 1. A key that operates all the master keyed locks or cylinders in a group, each lock or cylinder usually operated by its own change key. v. 2. To combinate a group of locks or cylinders such that each is operated by its own change key as well as by a master key for the entire group.

MASTER KEY SYSTEM  n. 1. Any keying arrangement that has two or more levels of keying. 2. A keying arrangement that has exactly two levels of keying.

MASTER KEYED  adj. Of or pertaining to a cylinder or group of cylinders that are or are to be combinated so that all may be operated by their own change key(s) and by additional key(s) known as master key(s).

MULTIPLEX KEY SYSTEM  n. 1. A series of different key sections that may be used to expand a master key system by repeating bittings on additional key sections. The keys of one key section will not enter the keyway of another key section. This type of system always includes another key section that will enter more than one, or all of the keyways.  2. A keying system that uses such keyways and key sections.

NMK  abb. A notation used to indicate "not master keyed" and is suffixed in parentheses to a regular keying symbol. It indicates that the cylinder is not to be operated by the master key(s) specified in the regular keying symbol; e.g., AB6(NMK).

PATTERN KEY  n. 1. An original key kept on file to use in a key duplicating machine when additional keys are required.  2. Any key that is used in a key duplicating machine to create a duplicate key.

PIN TUMBLER  n. Usually a cylindrical shaped tumbler. Three types are normally used: bottom pin, master pin and top pin.

PLUG  n. The part of a cylinder that contains the keyway, with tumbler chambers usually corresponding to those in the cylinder shell.

REMOVABLE CORE  n. A key removable core that can only be installed in one type of cylinder housing; e.g., rim cylinder or mortise cylinder or key-in-knob lock.

*SELECTIVE MASTER KEY  n. An unassociated master key that can be made to operate any specific lock(s) in the entire system in addition to the regular master key(s) and/or change key(s) for the cylinder without creating key interchange. Examples include:

  • (ENG) Engineering key
  • (HSKP) Housekeeping key
  • (JAN) Janitor's key
  • (SEC) Security key
  • (GRND) Grounds key

SHEAR LINE n. A location in a cylinder at which specific tumbler surfaces must be aligned, removing obstruction(s) that prevent the plug from moving.

SHELL  n. The part of the cylinder that surrounds the plug and usually contains tumbler chambers corresponding to those in the plug.

SIMPLEX KEY SECTION  n. A single independent key section which cannot be used in a multiplex key system.

SINGLE KEY SECTION  n. An individual key section which can be used in a multiplex key system.

SKD  sym. Symbol for "single keyed", normally followed by a numerical designation in the standard key coding system; e.g., SKD1, SKD2, etc. It indicates that a cylinder or lock is not master keyed but is part of the keying system.

SMALL FORMAT INTERCHANGEABLE CORE (SFIC)  n. 1. A key removable core that can be used in all or most of the core manufacturer’s product line. No tools (other than the control key) are required for removal of the core.  2. Recognized as a core having a universal figure 8 shape, and is small in size.  3. An interchangeable core that is too small to fit into a large format interchangeable core housing.

STANDARD KEY CODING SYSTEM  n. An industry standard and uniform method of designating all keys and/or cylinders in a master key system. The designation automatically indicates the exact function and keying level of each key and/or cylinder in the system, usually without further explanation.

SURREPTITIOUS ENTRY  n. The use of entry or bypass techniques that cannot be detected via disassembly and detailed inspection of lock components.

TAILPIECE  n. An actuator attached to the rear of the cylinder, parallel to the plug, typically used on rim, key-in-knob or special application cylinders.

TOP MASTER KEY (TMK)  n. The highest level master key in a master key system.

UNCONTROLLED CROSS KEYING  n. A condition in which two or more different change keys under different higher level keys operate one cylinder: e.g., XAA1, OB (operated by) AB, AB1.

Note: This condition severely limits the security of the cylinder and the maximum expansion of the system, and often leads to key interchange.

VISUAL KEY CONTROL (VKC)  n. A specification that all keys and the visible portion of the front of all lock cylinders be stamped with standard keying symbols.

X sym.  Symbol used in hardware schedules to indicate a cross-keyed condition for a particular cylinder: e.g., XAA2, OB (operated by) AA3, AA4, AA, A.

ZERO BITTED  adj. Of or pertaining to a cylinder which is or is to be combinated to keys cut to the manufacturer's reference number "0" bitting.