Skeleton Keys have always carried an element of mystery as they have been central plot devices of many mystery and detective stories. However, despite their shrouded reputation, there’s no magic or mystery to skeleton keys - they operate according to simple mechanics. Let’s learn what skeleton keys are all about.
What are they?
When most people hear “skeleton key” they think about an old fashioned looking key with an extended neck and rounded/decorative top. There are actually two kinds of keys that are known as skeleton keys. Old fashioned skeleton keys work with old fashioned warded locks - these are only really found now in older furniture, however due to how easily they can be picked, these hollow locks aren’t really used anymore. These locks take skeleton keys, barrelled, rounded shaft keys. The projections inside warded lock key holes blocks flat or incorrect keys from turning inside it, making it necessary for a key to be made that exactly matched the projections inside the lock.
These keys are also referred to as skeleton keys; these masters fit inside multiple locks within one facility, for example in hotels or schools. While many individual keys are fashioned to only open one door, the master key is able to open any door, including ones that some of the single-door keys can also open. Pin and tumbler style locks can be opened by multiple keys - the single key designated to that door, as well as a master key. This is made possible by situating a 3rd pin near the first two - that can be raised according to the dimensions of the key that would be used.
Both these keys work according to mechanics - no electricity, codes, or programming is needed. The locksmith accomplishes the simple task of making a key that matches the mechanical aspects of the lock, whether the internal mechanisms are a series of tumbler, pins, or channels, or a old fashioned warded lock.