Opening the lock may be easier than you think, as most were just made for ornamentation and, with a little patience, can be unlocked in no time. Many antique china cabinets used the old skeleton keys and are relatively easy to pick.
Even if you are not a professional lock picker or even haven’t tried this before, you may be surprised at the results. Have an assistant shine a flashlight into the locked mechanism. If the detail is not clear, have your assistant hold the magnifying glass or loupe over the lock, so you better can see what you are doing. Once you can see inside, you will imagine an old skeleton key with a barrel base and flat insert prong going into this mechanism.
Insert the miniature screwdriver gently into the ball area where the ball of the skeleton key would go. It is natural to feel a springing sensation; this may be pushing back of the tumblers or barrels if this lock is this sophisticated. Using a paper clip (bend it straight) or bobby pin, insert it into the flat area where the flat part of the key would normally go.
You should now have two different hands each holding a tool into the lock. Turn counter-clockwise at the same time, gently but firmly and applying the same pressure as if you are unlocking the cabinet with a key. This may require some jiggling and patience, but should move the tiny bar mechanism and unlock your door.
Locate and purchase a standard key that is used to open these type of locks. Check your local hardware store, perhaps in the antique restoration hardware section. If one is not available, it may be special ordered. If it works, now you have a functional lock and key and know how to get replacements. If the above steps haven’t worked for you, prepare to locate a professional locksmith with references that specializes in antique hardware to pick the lock. A locksmith will know the best route in finding a replacement key. Lock-picking kits are available for purchase, but you have to know how to use them in order to be successful. It may be just as cost effective to hire a trained professional to prevent you from doing damage to your cabinet. Older locking systems often contain delicate tumblers and pins that could break or snap if not handled properly. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if there is a certain type of lock you are after for your piece of antique furniture, that you can’t find on this page. It’s not impossible to restore locking function to vintage and antique furniture finds; here are a few tips on where to start from a locksmith. If you can’t locate a key, a locksmith may be able to make a key that fits the lock (but not always). Billysteve says it’s more common than you might think to find a key hiding in the back or under a drawer where it’s fallen out of sight. Some older wood antiques can be retrofitted with newer more modern locks —but keep in mind this might devalue the piece since it won’t be original. Billysteve says that a legitimate locksmith will view that as a last resort though. Billysteve says to be suspicious of locksmiths who don’t want to try another method first. Do you have any other tips/tricks for locking old furniture after you’ve lost the keys (or never had any in the first place)?
Did you buy a piece of antique furniture that didn’t come with a key?
Or perhaps you have keys for your antique lock, but it is broken?
These jewelry quality skeleton keys are also for sale in our shop. An attractive and versatile brass exterior gives way to a classic steel box; a decorative key, with ornate antique details, complements each lock set. These are high quality furniture and cabinet locks and are quite reliable. All you need to know is the lock company’s name and the key code, then look through our list to see if we have the key you need. Normally, you can easily unlock these older pieces with a skeleton key, but sometimes those keys have been misplaced and are inaccessible to you.
How to Lock Used Furniture If the Keys Are Long
In fact, many old locks were built for pure decoration and can be easily bypassed, even without a skeleton key.
You may even be able to gain access easily using only common household items. The bow is the round part at the opposite end of the end that you’d insert into the lock. The bit is the carved end that inserts into the lock to disengage it. The barrel is the shaft connecting the two ends. Alternatively, you can look for and purchase a set of keys with varying barrel and bit sizes and configurations. Most commonly, neglect can render a lock difficult to work with. If the lock in question is on a piece that was stripped and refinished, but the lock itself was not removed before the work was done, it can be clogged with finishing and debris. Another common problem with antique locks is a broken spring. This can result in bolts that can be easily moved without a key, bolts that don’t align properly with the selvage holes in the lock, or bolts that simply do not lock into the correct position. To resolve this problem, you’ll need to disassemble the lock’s housing around the pin and bolt so that you can visually examine the spring. Typically, screws secure the lock housing to the other frame. All you have to do is find a screwdriver that fits the screw, remove the screws, then extract the lock’s interior mechanism. Work carefully here, because the screws on antiques may be badly rusted or corroded. If you find a broken spring, you can remove it with a small screwdriver or similar tool. Replace the old spring a salvaged one from a similar lock or even with a piece of a bobby pin. If you can bring the piece itself into the locksmith or dealer’s shop, this will probably be more convenient by allowing the expert the greatest possible range of options in repairing and locating a suitable key for your lock. If that isn’t a feasible option, try taking a few high quality pictures of the lock for your selected locksmith or dealer to use in identifying and repairing your lock. Specifically note any engraved markings on the lock.
How to Unlock an Antique China Cabinet
This information may help the locksmith or dealer locate a matching key. Fortunately, those tools are probably within your home already.
You can clip a piece of stiff, sturdy wire such as a coat hanger and bend it into shape by creating a 90-degree angle at one end. Be sure to leave enough “barrel” space for you to work with as a handle. For smaller locks you may find a sturdy paper clip that’s been straightened out will fit better into the lock’s mechanism. This is especially true for smaller pieces, such as jewelry armoires and jewelry boxes, which tend to have smaller locks with smaller component parts. Like with the wire coat hanger, you’ll want to bend one end of the straightened paper clip into a 90-degree angle, leaving enough space on the other end of the clip to grip as a handle. Once you feel a little resistance, indicating the wire has been inserted fully, carefully twist the wire. If you feel the lock bolt move into the open position, you’ve successfully picked the lock. However, more than likely this method will require several tries before successfully opening the piece. But year after year, he noticed that furniture required more than just refinishing.
Because keys were often lost, armoires and desks were either permanently locked or permanently open. When trying to unlock a piece of furniture, he first tries an old key. Biunno’s specialty is making skeleton and barrel keys for antique furniture and doors. Biunno opened it and made a replacement key. Most keys he makes are either steel or brass, or a combination. Biunno said, so he always tries to restore an existing one rather than replace it.
When a lock is beyond repair, he tries to replace it with one of the many antique ones he has collected over the years. He will travel in the metropolitan region for an additional fee. Keys for locked furniture can also be made. To save money, a customer might consider removing the lock and bringing it to the store for repairs. The company even operates a 24-hour emergency service. Furniture keys, he said, cannot be made by machine, but must be filed by hand. Because of the labor involved, even duplicate keys can be relatively expensive. The usual approach is to either ignore the locks or take the attitude that if the key is around — great, if not, no big deal. But locks don’t have to be such an enigma. Mortise refers to the cutout portion of wood in which the lock is mounted. A full-mortise lock is fully enclosed by the drawer front or door in which it is mounted. Only the selvage, or top edge, of the lock is visible on the lip of the drawer or door, and nothing shows on either side. A half-mortise lock is exactly as it sounds — half exposed.
The top selvage is visible, but so is the back, or lockplate, of the lock on the inside of the drawer front. Also usually visible on a half-mortise lock are the screws or nails that hold the lock in place. Most older and antique furniture locks work on the simple idea of a key moving a bolt through the lock and into the adjoining frame member. The key usually fits over a center pin of a given size and rotates around it. The blade of the key engages a semi-circular cavity in the bolt and moves it forward or back, as the case may be. The bolt, however, may have a built-in resistance to impede the use of an unauthorized key. The resistance is a notch in the bolt that engages a surface of the lock housing and prohibits the bolt from moving. A spring holds the bolt notch fast to the face of the lock housing. The key must not only be the right size to move the bolt forward and back, it must be the right size to compress the spring and release the bolt so it can move. Most bolts have two notches, one in the locked position and one in the unlocked position. In addition to correct barrel size and blade size, a lock may employ other features to prevent the entry or use of a bogus key. The most common is an inside ring of raised metal, concentric to the pin, that requires a notch in the key. This feature is easy to overcome by inserting a new blank key in the lock and working it back and forth. This will put a mark on the blank where the notch should be and it can be cut out with a hacksaw. Making nice notches is possible with a little practice. A variation is two inside rings of different heights that require two notches of different depths but that’s a detail. This lock relies on a series of spring-loaded levers, each of different thickness to deny entry. The levers must be aligned in a perfect line to allow the bolt to pass, but since their thickness is random and hidden, figuring out a cut pattern is very difficult. This lock requires notches to be made on the bottom of the key blade rather than on the face of the blade and is much more difficult to fabricate.
Buy Antique Cabinet Locks
This is one case where if you don’t have the key, don’t worry about it. The second most common problem in the old locks, besides no key, is a broken spring. Symptoms of broken springs include bolts that can be moved without a key, bolts that don’t lock into position or bolts that do not line up with the holes in the selvage. Removing the housing around the pin and bolt will reveal the condition of the spring. Most springs are merely flat pieces of tension steel inserted in a slot in the bolt and wedged against the housing. If the spring is broken, remove it from the slot by punching it out with a small screwdriver. Then replace it with the spring from a salvaged lock or — better yet — with a piece of a modern bobby pin. The most common problem with old locks is neglect, especially if the piece has been worked on before and the locks were not removed before stripping and finishing. Collect as many steel keys as you can to try stubborn locks with before you cut soft brass ones that may break in a reluctant bolt. Easy install and a wonderful, historically accurate addition to my home. Did you scroll all this way to get facts about antique cabinet lock ?
The most common antique cabinet lock material is metal. These vintage styles secure cabinet drawers, cupboard doors and lift-lid boxes. Antique furniture locks are quality made adding appropriate detail to period furniture.
You may have sensitive documents or valuable items hanging around your home or office that you’re be concerned about when you’re away, or you may just be trying to keep the kids away from eating the paste. Whatever your reason, a good cabinet lock always provides a feeling of safety and security.
We offer quality cabinet locks so you can safely and securely store your goods out of sight. Our keyed cabinet locks come with a variety of lock styles. Standard locks are simple to use, and you may already have a number of standard cabinet locks around your office. Tubular locks have a unique look, and can add an extra level of protection. Tubular cabinet locks are harder to pick open, and you’ll never be confused which key is which. The tubular key will stand out against everything else on your key ring for easy and quick access. You’ll never have to worry about losing keys with our combination locks for cabinets. Simply set the 3-number code for whatever you decide, and all you have to do is remember what those numbers are. If you’d like to make your new security system matching your cabinets, we can help you with décor ideas. Our products come in a wide variety of materials, colors and finishes.
Our antique-styled cabinet locks will go perfectly in older, wooden furniture, and stainless-steel locks are ideal for steel filing cabinets.
We even have store-quality locks for clear sliding-glass display cases. Come home relaxed and secure that your sensitive items are protected and safe. Made of solid brass or steel with matching skeleton key, these locks will secure your cabinets and drawers with function and style. Made of durable, polished steel, it features a solid-brass strike and faceplate that are left unlacquered, allowing the brass to develop a lovely patina. Made of steel with an antique-brass finish, it’s suited for clock cases, cabinets, or wardrobes with narrow stiles. Comes complete with one matching skeleton key. Made of durable, polished steel, it’s suited for chests or boxes. Comes complete with one nickel-plated skeleton key. Made of durable steel, with an economical brass plating, it is suited for drawers or cabinet doors. The bolt shoots both directions for right or left-handing. Made of durable, polished steel, it features a solid-brass strike and faceplate. Made of durable, polished steel, it comes in an array of lacquered finish options. Made of durable, polished steel, it’s suited for drawers or cabinet doors that are hinged on the left side. Made of durable, polished steel, it’s suited for drawers or cabinet doors that are hinged on the right side. Made of durable, polished steel, it’s suited for drawers or cabinet doors. Made of durable, polished steel, it’s suited for drawers or cabinet doors, and features an extended selvage for added stability. Made of durable steel, with an economical brass plating, it’s suited for drawers or cabinet doors. Comes complete with one brass-plated keyhole cover and skeleton key. Made of durable polished steel, it’s suited for cabinet or wardrobe doors. The bolt shoots both directions for right or left handing. Comes complete with one brass-plated skeleton key. Replace a broken or missing key, repurpose for a decorative project, or delight wedding and party guests with their own keepsake to take home. Replace a broken or missing furniture key, repurpose for a decorative project, or delight wedding and party guests with their own keepsake to take home. Its unlacquered finish allows it to age naturally into an antique patina. For furniture or cabinet applications, operability can only be determined by testing, therefore we recommend purchasing an assortment of keys at one time. Let’s start with the types of vintage-style furniture locks we carry. Here you’ll find furniture and chest locks in flush mount, full mortise, and half mortise varieties. The full mortise locks we carry get mounted in a pocket cut into the wood edge (with only the edge of the lock where the tongue extends exposed).