Locks are relatively simple
mechanical devices if you understand how they work and padlocks are no
Padlocks are made in a wide
range of sizes from miniature masterpieces of only a few millimeters to huge
pieces a foot or more in size. Padlocks also range greatly in their level of
security. The vast majority is simple spring mechanisms but some are high
security locks using sophisticated keys or combination locks. Most padlocks are
simple to look at but many are works of art.
The weakness of most modern
padlocks is the hasp they attach to and the fact that they are exposed to
simple attack with a sledge hammer or a pry bar. Most medium quality padlocks
can be quickly dispatched with a quick blow of a hammer.
Padlocks come in various
sizes, styles and complexities. There are as many mechanisms as there are
makers and there seen to be more types of padlocks than any other lock.
Padlocks use almost every
form of metalworking including both forging and casting, and have been made
from almost every common as well as precious metals. Iron, steel and brass are
most common but padlocks have also been made of stainless, Damascus, silver
gold and platinum.
Padlocks are commonly made
in form follows function shapes but they are also made in every geometric shape
as well as that of animals, birds and fish.
The simplest padlock
mechanism is a “spring” lock. This is a simple arrangement where the
spring or a lever actuated by a spring latches the lock and a key simply pushes
the spring to open the lock. Push pins, screw and the familiar bit type key are
Occasionally these locks
will have wards. The most common types are cylindrical wards on the inside
faces of the case.
Padlock cases are made
either by forming two shallow boxes which are assembled with short shouldered
studs that are riveted on the outside, or are two flat plates with side pieces
also held together with the same short riveted studs.
While the lock is being
built the studs are riveted to the back of the case and the parts then fitted.
When everything is complete the front cover is riveted to the rest. Once
assembled the padlock cannot be disassembled without cutting off or drilling
out the rivets.
On some locks the rivets are
low pan head types and on heavy locks and on brass locks the heads are
countersunk and then finished flush. Modern locks like the Yale are full of
holes filled with press fit or bradded plugs that are
finished flush so that you cannot see them.