Need to replace or repair your locks?

Door hardware and locks have a life cycle and, depending upon the type, grade and application, may need to be replaced. Sometimes the lock can be repaired, but it is often more cost effective to replace then to repair. Any repair will be temporary, anyway, because the equipment is older and wearing out. Replacing with new locks will guarantee you a much longer period of security for you and your family. You may even want to take the opportunity to upgrade the locks you’ve had for more high security locks.

Another advantage to replacing locks is that any keys you may have given to friends, family, or workers will no longer work. Your local, professional locksmith will make you at little or no cost as many copies of the new keys as you need and you no longer have to worry about who has access to your home.

Your locksmith can give you a basic estimate over the phone when you call to make the appointment. When he arrives and has a chance to look at the actual hardware and the condition it’s in, he can give you an estimate closer to the actual price. Even after he assesses the job, however, things can come up that might change that estimate. Problems can show up once a piece of door hardware has been removed.

Any warranty for the lock that isn’t working will be invalid if you’ve had someone who is not licensed or experienced working on it before you called a locksmith. Parts may be broken or lost. The same is true if you had someone without the proper knowledge install the lock for you. Take a look at the mechanism here:

Would you want someone trying to work with this mechanism who has no training and experience?

Whatever your locksmith needs are, the safest, most cost effective and most secure choice you have is to call a local, professional locksmith and have him do the work for you.

At A-1 Keys, we will always offer you options, do the job quickly and skillfully and advise you of any unexpected costs that may come up before we do the work. Trust your local, professional small businessman. Come by and see us at the K-Mart Mall on the corner of Third and Fairfax.

When you are locked out of your house

You’re locked out. Your Aunt Maizie who has your spare key is out of town for the holidays. Now what? Break a window? Try to “jimmy” the lock yourself? Here’s a better idea: call a locksmith.

Your local, professional locksmith will arrive quickly with the tools he needs to solve your problem. He will have several options to help you get back into your house. One of these is picking the lock.

Picking a lock is not as simple as many may think. It’s not like in the movies where the detective slips a pick into the lock and the door magically opens. Picking is an acquired skill that takes a lot of practice and even when the locksmith is good at it, sometimes it is unsuccessful. For example, the addition of specialized "top pins" can make a low cost residential lock very difficult to pick. Also, some locks require specialty picks or other devices that may not be available to your local locksmith. Most locksmiths will stop trying to pick the lock after 5-15 minutes and resort to alternative methods.

Bypassing a lock is an advanced skill and some locksmiths have learned it and some have not. The only way to learn how to bypass a lock is experimenting with locks over time. Your locksmith may be an expert at bypassing some locks, but maybe not yours. Remember, if anybody could do it, your lock would be worthless! If your locksmith is able to bypass your particular lock, however, it can be faster than picking or drilling.

The choice to drill a lock open is an accepted trade practice and one that is taught in the industry.  Drilling a lock open requires "strategic" drill points which are designed to prevent the least amount of damage possible to the lockset and mostly focuses on the cylinder alone.  It will, however, cause some damage to the lock.

If the locksmith can repair this damage, he will do so on the spot. If he can’t, he will replace the lock for you and can offer you a number of options that will vary in price and level of security.

If you have had to call a professional locksmith out to gain entry to your home, consider making extra keys now and find the perfect place to store them where they will be accessible to you if you should happen to get locked out again in the future.

A-1 Keys offers twenty-four hour emergency service. They can assist you if you are locked out of your house or your car. They are located at the K-Mart mall on Third and Fairfax and can make duplicate keys for you now before you find yourself locked out. Save yourself the service call and come by to have duplicate keys made now.

Locksmith Terms

Every occupation has its own words and phrases specific to that profession. Often consumers can feel a bit intimidated when professionals use phrases not commonly known to the general public.

It’s no different with locksmiths. These terms evolve over time because of the skills and knowledge required to do the job. They are by no means an attempt to keep the consumer in the dark. Nevertheless, professionals sometimes forget that their clients are not familiar with the industry jargon.

In this blog, we’ll introduce some of the words and phrases used by all professional locksmiths in an attempt to help you, the consumer, become familiar with them.


Access control - A device regulating access to an entry or exit.

Anti-thrust bolt - A spring bolt, particularly for a night latch, which cannot be pushed back once it has shot out and locked a door.

Anti-thrust plate - An overlapping metal plate fitted to doors which open out blocking access to the lock bolts.


Birmingham bar - A steel bar fitted to the inside of the door frame on the hinge side to resist kick-in attacks.

Backplate - A plate on the inside of a door through which the cylinder connecting screws and tailpiece is passed.

Bit - The section of a key which enters a lock, which has the key cuts formed in it and which engages the bolt or tumblers of the lock. The bit is called a blade in the case of a cylinder key.

Blank - An unfinished key as it comes from the manufacturer.

Bolt - The part of a lock or latch which closes it by extending from the case or faceplate to engage in the staple, striking plate, link, shackle or other member.

BS 3621 - British Standard Grade certifying the lock fulfills specific security requirements. Locks conforming to this grade display the BS kite mark stamp. Many insurance companies require these lock types for entrance and exit doors.

Bumping - A lock picking technique using a specially designed bump key to open a pin tumbler lock.

Butt Hinge - A rectangular hinge, one half of which is mortised into the edge of a door, the other half into the door jamb, so that both halves touch when the door is closed.


Casement Window - A window with its sash hinged at the side or top.

Code Book - A listing of code numbers and their corresponding combination of key cuts for the locks of various manufacturers. These codes enable a ocksmith to cut a key for a coded lock without an existing key to copy and without having to take the lock apart.

Cylinder lock or latch - Any lock or latch whose mechanism is contained in a cylinder.


Deadbolt - A lock bolt, usually rectangular, that has no spring action, and locks against end pressure when fully projected.

Deadlatch - A latch or nightlatch, with a springbolt which can be locked (or deadlocked) by key or other means.

Deadlock - A lock having only a square-ended deadbolt operable from one or both sides by key, and occasionally from outside only by key, inside by thumb turn. Sometimes operable only from outside and with no inside keyhole, which is designated a single-entry deadlock.

Disc tumbler lock - A cylinder lock having disc instead of pin tumblers.

Door viewer - Optical device fitted through a door to allow observation without opening the door -- also known as a peep hole.

Double cylinder deadlock - A deadbolt lock whose bolt may be operated by a key from either side.


Escutcheon - The key hole cover of a mortice or other similar type lock.

Extractor - Any of a number of thin tools used to remove broken key segments from a lock keyway, often homemade from spring steel wire, crochet hooks, fish hooks, coping saw blades and the like.


Face - The front surface of a lock cylinder perpendicular to the keyway at the point where the key enters the lock.

Fixed Tumbler – A safe deposit lock lever tumbler with an unchangeable setting. Also called a fixed lever or a non-changeable lever. While combination tumblers may or may not be fixed tumblers, guard tumblers and trap tumblers are always fixed tumblers.

Flush Bolt – A locking bolt which, when installed on a door, is flush with the surface of the door.

Four Pin Master Key - a master key for all combinations obtained by progressing four bitting positions.

French Spring – A flat-wire, coiled spring used in French door locks to hold the lever handle horizontal. Also called a gun spring.

Call A-1 Keys for an assessment and estimate. The best money you can spend is securing your property and your family before a problem arises. The financial and emotional cost after a break-in are too high for you to have to pay.


Grade 1 - Locks rated for commercial applications. They meet commercial building requirements. These locks are tested to 800,000 cycles and are vandal resistant which makes them well suited for trouble areas.

Grade 2 - Locks are designed for light duty commercial (interior) and heavy duty residential. Commercially they are good for light duty doors such as offices. They are the preferred grade for residential over grade 3 locks.

Grade 3 - Light duty residential locks. They should never be used for commercial applications. The effective security of grade 3 locks is in high debate among security professionals. Security is not the place to be cheap. Why would you spend $3000 on a flat screen TV and $15 on the cheapest front door lock you can find?

Grip - the knob, lever, thumbpiece, push-pull operator, etc., of any working trim.


Hinge bolts - Fixed steel bolts fitted into the rear edge or hinge side of doors and closing into holes in the door frame, protecting from forced attack on the hinge side of the door.

High Security Lock - A heavy-duty lock that provides more security than other locks. Frustrates picking attempts, thwarts drilling, and often provides key control.

Hook Bolt - a lock bolt shaped in the general outline of a hook. Normally used on sliding doors or where spreading of the frame and door is a possible attack.


Index (of a combination lock dial) - the mark outside the dial ring of a combination lock used as a reference point.

Interchangeable core - a key removable core which 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.


Jackscrew - a threaded rod used for centering and balancing a vault door & frame in position during installation.

Jamb - The inside vertical face of a doorway.


Key code - A series of numbers or digits on a key or lock that specifies or references the particular cuts of the key to operate a lock.

Keyless entry - Method of opening locks without a traditional key. Method can be elecronic or mechanical. For example, numbered keypad, fob, proximity card, magnetic stripe card.

Keyway - The configuration of grooves along the blade of a key. Just as you "can't put a square peg in a round hole," neither can you put any key into any lock. The keyway of the key must coincide with the keyway of the lock. Since a Master-key must enter all the locks of a Master-keyed group of locks, all the locks in the group must have keyways compatible with the Master-key.


Latch - A mechanical device which automatically keeps a door closed.

Lever lock - Lock with levers that are each lifted to the correct level by a bit key or flat metal key to enable the lock to operate.


Manual Dogging - 1. An exit device that requires a physical action to dog it. 2. Using a wrench or a special key to dog an exit device.

Master Key - Opens all locks on the corresponding Master Key System. Individual keys on the system are limited to opening individual locks. Useful for building managers, commercial buildings and property managers.

Mortise Cylinder - a threaded cylinder typically used in mortise locks of American manufacture.


Narrow Stile - Pertaining to aluminum doors with stiles generally between 1-3/4 and 2-3/4 inches wide.


One Shot - of or pertaining to a wire run that has an unobstructed line of sight.

One-Sided Lock (single-entry) - A lock which has a keyhole on one side only.

Pin Tumbler Mechanism - The mechanism incorporated in the cylinder or body of a cylinder pin tumbler lock, latch or padlock.

Override Code - in an electronic lock, a factory-set or user-set combination that will always open the lock.

A-1 Keys will be glad to give you an estimate for duplicating your ignition or security keys.


Paddle Handle - a type of actuator which is relatively flat and operates the mechanism when pivoted on an axis near one end.

Passive Infrared Device - a device used to detect motion by detecting changes in heat pattern key.

Pattern Key - 1. an original key kept on file to use in a key duplicating machine when additional keys are required, 2. any key which is used in a key duplicating machine to create a duplicate key.

Perforated Tumbler - a combination wheel with multiple holes within its diameter for mounting the fly.

Pick - 1. a tool or instrument, other than the specifically designed key, made for the purpose of manipulating tumblers in a lock or cylinder into the locked or unlocked position through the keyway, without obvious damage. 2. to manipulate tumblers in a keyed lock mechanism through the keyway, without obvious damage, by means other than the specifically designed key.

Pin Tweezers - a tool used in handling tumblers and springs.

Plug - the part of a cylinder which contains the keyway, with tumbler chambers usually corresponding to those in the cylinder shell.

Push Bump Key - a lock picking key that centers itself after each impact.


Quadrant - a dutch door lock with a bolt that is 1⁄4 of a circle.


Re-Key - Manipulate a lock so that different keys open it.

Repin - to replace pin tumblers, with or without changing the existing combination.

Rim cylinder - The mechanism used in dead bolts that are mounted with screws from the opposite side of the door.

Rim Lock - A lock or latch mounted on the surface of a door or drawer.


Sash lock - A vertical mortice lock, consisting of a latch bolt and a key operated bolt attached to two sashes- usually referring to a window lock.

Spring Bolt - Sometimes called the latchbolt. It is a bolt which can be retracted by pressure into the lock-case and will return to the extended position when pressure is released.

Shear Line - a location in a cylinder at which specific tumbler surfaces must be aligned, removing obstruction(s) which prevented the plug from moving.

Slim Jim - a narrow strip of spring steel used to bypass the cylinder and unlock vehicle doors.

Standard Key Coding System - 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.


Talon - The notch in the bolt tail which the key or other rotating member engages to move the bolt.

Tap - A tool with external cutting threads to cut internal threads in a hole.

Threshold - A piece of wood or stone which lies directly under the bottom edge of a closed door. Also called a sill.

Tumbler - The detainer which must be lifted to allow the lock bolt to move.


UL Listed - listed in a directory as having passed specific Underwriters Laboratories testing.

Unidirectional Cylinder - a cylinder whose key can turn in only one direction from the key pull position.


Valet Key - an automotive key that operates all locks except storage compartments, on a vehicle where there is also a master key to operate all locks.

VATS - abbreviation for Vehicle Anti-Theft System: an electronic system in some vehicles which uses a resistor pellet of varying value imbedded in a mechanical ignition key.


Wheel Lock 1. a lock which prevents rotation of a wheel, 2. a lock which prevents removal of a wheel.

Wheel Puller - a tool used to remove the steering wheel from a column.

Wide Stile - pertaining to aluminum and hollow metal or wood doors with stiles 5 inches wide or larger.


X - sym. symbol used in hardware schedules to indicate a cross-keyed condition for a particular cylinder; e.g., XAA2, XlX (but not AX7).

- a component designed to secure cylinders or turn disks in both sides of a mortise lock by means of a single setscrew.

Z-wire - 1. A wire bypass tool with two opposing right angle bends, for retracting a spring latch. 2. A wire tension wrench for the control lug in certain IC padlocks.

We hope this definition of locksmith terms has been useful to you. A-1 Keys would like to remind you that it’s always best to call a professional for any problems or needs you have concerning the security of your home and the security and operation of your vehicle. Trying to get into your locked vehicle on your own can create damage to your car that will cost you more money than calling a professional locksmith who has the skills and tools to get you into your home or vehicle properly. A-1 Keys has all the latest tools and technology to solve your lockout, installation or duplication problems without causing further damage to your property. The best way to insure you do not need to call a locksmith at night, in the rain, or from a lonely stretch of road is to be prepared in advance. Call A-1 Keys to have duplicate keys made now so that you do not compromise your safety in the future. Transponder keys can be made for a much lower price if you have the original. If the original is lost, your costs will go up significantly. If you have lost the key, it is impossible to make a duplicate without the vehicle. It will always cost more to have a locksmith come to your location than it will to take your key to his store and have a duplicate made there. You may also incur towing charges if you can’t get a key made right away. A-1 Keys is your local, professional locksmith. We look forward to serving you.

What is it, exactly, that a locksmith does?

A professionally trained locksmith installs locks, deadbolts and other security devices to protect your home, your car, and your business. Locksmiths also rekey locks, make duplicate keys, and program new keys when a transponder chip is involved. They respond to emergency calls to unlock vehicles, homes and businesses that have been locked accidentally, or whose locks have malfunctioned or been compromised by burglers. More times than you’d guess, keys break off in ignitions or in locks which requires the skills of a locksmith to remove.

If you need to replace or rekey a lock, you can get valuable information from your local professional locksmith to help you find the right solution to your problem. Many times people believe they are going to save money by attempting to fix the problem themselves; but without the knowledge and skill of a professional, the truth is they will often spend more money than if they had simply contacted a locksmith first.

One of the simpler tasks of a locksmith is making duplicate keys. Using your key as a template -- and assuming it does not have a “Do Not Duplicate” directive stamped into the metal -- the locksmith can quickly and inexpensively duplicate the key for your use.

A professional locksmith has mechanical abilities, good vision, spatial percepetion, hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity. Their job often requires tremendous patience, both with difficult locks and with frustrated customers.

Although there are trade schools which offer classes in locksmithing, most locksmiths receive their best training as an apprentice to an established professional. As new keys and new locks come onto the market, locksmiths must continue their education to stay current. There are seminars and conventions that offer continuing education and most professionals belong to the Associated Locksmiths of America.

How To Choose A Locksmith

When should you begin to look for a locksmith?

That’s easy. Right now.

“Right now,” you say. “I don’t need a locksmith right now.” I know. Unfortunately, when you do need a locksmith, you’re most likely to be in a crisis situation; not the best time to have to make any decision, much less a decision about who to call to get you into your house or into your car.

Maybe you’ve already been in the position of needing help with a car lockout or a house lockout. You already know that when you needed the locksmith, you needed him immediately. You know better than anyone that you should make this decision when you’re not stressed out.

So how do you find a good locksmith?

Recommendations are a good start. Ask your friends, talk to your insurance agent, see if any of your neighbors have had to call a locksmith lately. Did they like him? Do they have his business car?

If you have the time, drive by the locksmith’s address to make sure that his address exists. Some locksmiths make up fake addresses or buy phone numbers in your area even though they live and work far away. Local businessmen are going to be responsible to you. They’re in your neighborhood. If someone isn’t honest about their address and phone number, how honest are they going to be about your costs?

A side note: the address is important, but the shop being open 24/7 really isn’t. Your locksmith often has calls to run which take him away from his shop. If the address connects up to a physical shop, he’s there. If he’s gone, he’ll be back. Make a note to call him for a time to meet and discuss your locksmith concerns.

Ask your locksmith for an estimate of costs before he does the job. He may not always be able to give you an exact price, but he should be able to give you a quote that is very close to the final bill he hands you. If something unexpected comes up while he’s working, he’ll stop and talk to you about it and get your approval.

If your locksmith is coming to you, look for a van advertising his business name and phone numbers. Any reputable locksmith will have his business name painted on his van. Ask for a business card when he arrives at your door.

Most locks can be opened by a professional. There is, however, a higher and higher number of people learning how to pick locks. Because of this, some lock manufacturers have made high security locks that are virtually un-pickable. That’s good for you unless you’ve locked yourself out of your house. If your locksmith has to drill the lock, which is a very rare occurance, it is because there is no other solution.

And there are some car manufacturers who refuse to reveal key codes for their vehicles. In those rare cases, your locksmith will have to refer you to the dealer to get you into your car. That will then involve a towing charge as well as the charges to get into the vehicle and to make a duplicate key. Unfortunately, there’s nothing the locksmith can do about the manufacturer’s decisions.

The primary thing to remember is this: you will need a locksmith. At some point in time, you will need a locksmith. Start looking around your neighborhood today for the local businessman who is going to be reliable, responsible and reasonable. You’ll find him!

Has Anyone Seen My Keys ?

It’s a common problem: you can’t find your car keys. You had them in your hands, or your purse, or on the hook by the front door... and they just disappeared all on their own! No problem. Run down to the hardware store and get a cheap copy.

Except -- you can’t. Car keys have grown up. Have you called a locksmith lately and asked how much it would cost to replace your car key? You couldn’t believe the price he quoted you. You think the world is trying to rip you off. Not true. Here’s what has happened in the last fifteen years or so.

Before the 1990s, it was easy to get a spare key at the hardware store, local locksmith shop, or dealership. But it was just as easy for a thief to get a copy made and steal your car. Advances in key technology have made your car significantly safer from thieves; but the price of that safety has been more expensive key replacements.

In the West Los Angeles, Santa Monica areas, an hour of labor at a car dealer can cost more than $100. A blank key from a dealer can run you $30.00 just for the blank. But most modern cars need more than a series of cuts and grooves on a blank key. An electronic key fob (or transponder) is part of the key set. The cost of replacing this fob at the dealer can range from $150 to $600, depending on the car maker.

The reason for that is each fob has a chip in the plastic head of the key that needs to be programmed. This chip sends a signal to a receiver in the ignition. To get the right signal, the transponder must be reprogrammed using special equipment. If the wrong signal is received, the vehicle will not start, so you will have to have your car towed to the dealer before you can even begin the process, adding more cost to your final bill.

A-1 Keys can come to your location and program your key from their mobile locksmith shop, saving you the towing charges and bringing you a competitive price for the key and the programming.

Lost key hint: consider having more than one new key programmed for you while your locksmith is there. He can give you a break on the price of the second key set, and you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing you don’t have to go through this process all over again if you misplace your keys.

How Many People Still Have Keys To Your House?

Have you ever taken a moment to consider how many people could walk up to your front door, put a key into the lock, and gain entry? Over the years, you’ve given copies of your front door key to dozens of friends, relatives, workmen... all trustworthy to be sure. But relationships change. People change. You never know what circumstances might lead someone to decide to break into your home.

The key your son gave to his best friend could easily have been given to another friend... and another... all without your child’s knowledge. It’s your castle; it’s up to you to keep it secure. The most fool-proof way is to change the locks. This is a cost- effective, 100% fail-safe way to ensure no one comes into your home uninvited.

There are other advantages to changing the locks. Locks can become obsolete as security technology advances. You keep up with all the upgrades in computer technology. Your home deserves the same attention. All you are protecting on your computer are your files. Your home needs to protect your family.

You can change all the locks or rekey them to one master key so that you’re not carrying around a key for every door. Whichever way you decide to go, you’ll not only be making a sound investment, you’ll be providing the very best security for those you love.

Call A-1 keys today. A serviceman will come to your house to discuss all of the options available to you.

History Of Locks and Locksmiths

The History of Locks, Part 1

Locksmiths install, fix, pick and remove lock and key systems. People who are responsible for this kind of work need to have more than a fundamental understanding of how locks and key systems work. Although there are a lot of lock and key designs that changes the manner in which lock systems are created and manufactured, the basic system of a lock and the objective for which they are used remains the same.

The early form of locks used gate keys. Gate keys consisted of a blade which is the key bit at the end of the instrument and a long handle that holds the blade. Holding the handle at the right angle will enable one to open the door lock with the mechanism. The distance of the blade from the end of the key and the size of the key determines the lock where it will fit.

Over the years, concerns for securing property and wealth increased and in the middle ages, locksmith guilds were even formed. Locksmiths used their skills in securing castles. These skills were highly valued because of the need to secure criminals or prisoners in dungeons during the Dark Ages. Preventing the escape of prisoners required locks that were difficult to tamper with and locksmiths were sent to guilds so that they can be trained in the proper way to fashion a lock. Because of the importance of their line of work, they earned higher wages than other forms of specialized crafts.

Master locksmiths in guilds were highly respected. They were individuals who came up with new or innovative lock and key designs. These locks were then put up in display in guilds and museums.

Increased industrialization also resulted in the rise of crime. High incidence of crime made it necessary for locksmiths to create more complicated designs for lock and keys systems and makes it harder for criminals to steal people’s belongings and commit other crimes. Locks became more sophisticated and were harder to pick.

Thanks to locksmiths, different types of locks are now available. Popular lock systems include cylinder locks and lever locks. These types of locks operate in a similar manner as gate keys.

In contemporary times, locks have also gone digital. Digital locks using numeric coding, access key card systems can engage or release magnetic locks. Businesses in particular, use these types of systems because it eliminates the need for copying many different keys. Although these types of lock systems are vulnerable to hacking and power outages, they are still highly reliable as a way of securing your business facility and your assets.

Different techniques are now used to design a variety of lock and key systems for residential and commercial purposes. The locksmith industry has now grown astronomically. It has even become standard for people to install locks in any building or facility. External and internal doors, windows, vaults, safes, closets, automobiles are all equipped with locks.

For your car locksmith service needs in Los Angeles, depend on our reputable company. At A-1 keys, you will find an expert team of certified and licensed technicians who can take care of any of your lock and key need. Residential and commercial lock and key systems can be well taken care of when you hire our locksmiths. You will not have to worry about being locked out of your home or office when you have our group of professional locksmiths to unlock your building or house. Installation, re-key and repair services are specialized services that are also offered in our company. Contact our Los Angeles locksmiths today for reliable, efficient and prompt services!

  • Emergency lockout service
  • Transponder chip keys and remotes replaced
  • All types of automotive locks replaced
  • Broken keys extracted
  • Trunks opened
  • High security ignition keys replaced
  • Ignitions replaced
  • Locks rekeyed
  • Master key system installed
  • High security locks installed or replaced
  • Dead bolts installed
  • Key entry knob installed
  • Door closures installed
  • Panic bars installed
  • Surveillance systems designed & installed
  • Store front locks installed and rekeyed
  • Emergency lockout service
  • Keyless entry system installed
  • Emergency lockout service
  • High security lock installation
  • Security door and gates
  • Rekey and repair locks
  • Garage door remotes
  • Mailboxes rekeyed
  • Safes installed and repaired
  • Combination locks installed
  • Security systems designed & installed