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How Do File Cabinet Locks Work?

Steve Smith

Each file cabinet lock has a tumbler just like a door lock. This tumbler works in the same way. When the key is inserted into the file cabinet lock, the teeth push and roll the tumblers into position, based on the shape of the key. If the key fits, then the tumblers lock into the open position, and you are able to turn the key in the file cabinet lock. This action releases the lock if it is already set, or locks the cabinet if the lock is in the unlock position prior to inserting the key.

The Tumbler

Lock Bar

The file cabinet lock has a small, round bolt which is connected to the body of the lock. This is a small knob or rod positioned on the bottom of the key and tumbler body. The knob is connected to the tumbler assembly, and when the key is turned to the left, it raises into the "lock" position. This means the bolt is sticking up from the body of the file cabinet lock and it will not allow the cabinet to open.

Mounting and Operation

The file cabinet lock is mounted inside the cabinet frame. Usually, the lock is installed using a kit. A hole is drilled into the top of the frame right over the file cabinet drawer, and the tumbler housing and cabinet lock are inserted into this. The lock is installed so the bolt will slide into a hole on the top or bottom of the file cabinet shelf, depending on the design of the cabinets. When locked, the bolt then slides into this hole, and prevents the file cabinets from being opened.