What is a locksmith?

What Does a Professional Toronto Locksmith / Security Professional Really Do?

A professional trained locksmith or security professional may do some or all of the following services, install locks, deadbolts and other mechanical or electronic locking devices to safeguard homes, businesses, vehicles and other property.  Locksmiths may modify or repair such devices, change the keys to locks, make duplicate keys or access cards, generate or program new keys or cards for locks whose keys or cards have been lost and respond to emergency calls to unlock vehicles, homes and businesses that have been locked accidentally, or whose locks have malfunctioned which would require emergency access.

Some locksmiths install and service electronic security sytems and surveillance systems. Many locksmiths can also specify, and design, provide, install and service a wide range of electronic access control systems and closed circuit television (CCTV) systems.  Because of the integration of electronic security systems with computers and high speed networks, some locksmiths maintain security hardware and software for computer systems as well.

When new or replacement lock cylinders are needed, a locksmith can help the customer in determining the correct choice of locks needed based on the security needs of the customer, life safety legistlation and frequency of use.  The locksmith installs locks and security devices using manufacturer’s specifications by cutting or drilling the proper opening in the selected location with small hand and power tools to perform the installation.

A locksmith may also sell and install safes for home and business use.  Bank vaults have many locking devices and related hardware that require regular service by locksmiths such as; vault doors, time locks, safe deposit boxes and teller equipment.

A locksmith can repair a lock by taking apart examining it to locate worn or malfunctioning parts, then cleans and adjusts the internal mechanisms and replaces these parts with new ones supplied by the lock's manufacturer.

A locksmith makes duplicate keys using a key-duplicating machine. With the customer's (pattern) key and key blank clamped in their respective vises, the locksmith moves the pattern key across the guide. A rotary cutter cuts the same pattern into the key blank. The locksmith carefully examines the new key to ensure its accuracy.

A locksmith may respond to 911 emergency calls for customers who have accidentally become locked out of a business or home or automobile.   The locksmith always begins by examining the kind of  lock needed to be defeated to develop the best method to circumvent the lock. These methods may include use of lock picks, bypass tools or other special instruments.  Generating a key by code or other skilled means is also a method of opening a lock for a customer.   Years of experience, skill and knowledge determine the method a professional security professional uses to gain entry to a lock. There are times when the quality of the lock, concern for safety of occupants and other factors such as a malfunction of the lock may force the locksmith to use destructive techniques to gain entry.   Before performing an emergency opening or certain other sensitive tasks, the locksmith may require positive ID procedures to insure the person has the legal authority to command entry.

For security reasons or because keys are stolen or misplaced, many businesses, hotels/motels and apartment complex owners contract with locksmiths to provide new master key systems, reset combinations and rekey their door locks on a regular basis. Some cities and states require locksmiths to be licensed and bonded. The licensing process may include submitting fingerprints, undergoing a state or national background check, passing an examination, and paying a fee to the licensing agency. A self-employed locksmith must also keep business records and maintain a proper inventory of locks, parts, keys and tools.

Qualifications: Mechanical Locksmithing involves precise and detailed work. Good locksmithing professionals possess mechanical and mathematical ability, good vision, spatial perception, eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity. They must be able to understand lock and key specifications, operating manuals and other written or oral instructions as necessary. Additional traits include patience, emotional stability, honesty, ependability, accuracy and the ability to get along with other individuals.

Education and Training: During high school, the prospective locksmith should take courses in mathematics, mechanical drawing, metalworking, basic electronics, physics, and English plus some business education. To install electric locks, alarms, access control systems or surveillance devices, locksmiths must have knowledge of electricity and electronics.

Traditionally, on-the-job training has been a best method of learning locksmithing skills.  Locksmith trainees work with experienced locksmiths until they have mastered the necessary skills to ride on there own.   In some on-the-job training programs, employees attend demonstrations or receive classroom as well as practical training. The length of time necessary to complete on-the-job training ranges from three months to four years, depending on the level of expertise required for a given sector of the profession. Completion of courses at a locksmithing school will provide a basic knowledge of the trade and may shorten the length of the on-the-job training programs.

Continuing education for our locksmith industry is provided by seminars and classes presented by lock manufacturers, locksmithing schools and locksmith associations, including the TAOL.

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