Pin Tumbler Lock vs Wafer Lock

Know the differences between a pin tumbler lock and a wafer lock, or wafer tumbler lock when in doubt as to what type of cylinder lock to purchase. First, let us take a lock at a pin tumbler lock.

Pin Tumbler Lock

Pin tumbler locks, also known as a Yale lock, the known manufacturer of locks, is a mechanical unit that contain pins of varying lengths. It is a very common cylinder lock and a mechanism used among radial locks, or tubular pin tumbler locks. It has an opening which is cylindrical and that is where the plug is found. When rotating the plug in a certain direction, the lock will be opened. Within the plug is a passageway, or a keyway, and this is where the key enters. Beyond this keyway is a group of levers or cams that starts a mechanism to prevent it from locking. Within this keyway are protruding ridges that prevent a certain key from getting into the plug, thereby preventing it from being picked.

Wafer Lock

What is a wafer lock? A wafer tumbler lock, or simply known as the wafer lock utilizes a set of flat wafers to stop the lock from opening unless a specific key was used. This is similar to the above-mentioned pin tumbler lock and functions similarly. Although, the wafer lock is a single piece of equipment whereas the pin tumbler is a combination of equipment, the wafer lock is sometimes erroneously thought of as a disc tumbler lock.

How a Wafer Lock Works

Within a cylindrical wafer tumbler lock, there is a group of flat wafers where the cylindrical plug is attached. These wafers project in the outer casing of the lock because these are inserted into slots in the plug and are spring-loaded inside. The plug’s rotation is not possible as long as a wafer is still projecting through one of the furrows. At the core of each wafer, there is a rectangular outlet. The outlets are placed in varying vertical positions. Therefore, the key must have grooves that will correspond to the height of each wafer within the outlet. As soon as the key fits each wafers perfectly, the wafers will then be pulled and straightened to align, making it possible for the plug to rotate and open the lock.

Types of Wafer Locks

Every wafer lock varies depending on its manufacturer. One of the most common wafer lock is the single-bitted, five-wafer configuration that is utilized on cabinets and table drawers. There are also other varieties that have a pile of closely-spaced wafers to specifically correspond a double-sided key’s contours. There are also double-bitted wafer lock configurations that are available and can be inquired upon purchase in hardware stores. Ignition locks are also considered wafer locks and has a different wafer configuration. Although these locks may have different types of configurations in their wafers, they still function similarly using the same operating standard.