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What Are the Different Types of File Cabinet Locks?

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  • Written By: Andrew Kirmayer
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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File cabinets are most often used to securely store and organize documents. Generally found in offices and homes, they can be made safe and secure when some kind of lock is included. Many types of file cabinets are manufactured with locks built in; others can be fitted with a lock of the user’s choice. File cabinet locks can be mechanical or electronic and consist of pad locks, tubular cylinder locks, or cam style versions. Depending on the filing cabinet, lock bars as well as sliding teeth or keypad locks can also be selected.

Regardless of the type of file cabinet locks used, some are available in either keyed or keyless configurations. The traditional style of lock and key is still used in many cases. Electronic locks, however, are often beneficial for people that tend to lose keys. They typically eliminate the need to change keys when the cabinet is turned over to someone else. An electronic keypad lock generally operates by opening an electromechanical mechanism when the correct code is pressed on the keypad.

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A tubular cylinder lock typically fits through a hole in the cabinet. Installation can be challenging, so a professional may be needed to put in these file cabinet locks correctly. The lock has a long cylinder shape and usually opens with a round key. A cam lock often looks similar but includes a rotating bar mechanism at the back, which is controlled by a key. This bar latches onto some part of the cabinet’s interior, holding the drawer in place when locked.

In the case of a sliding teeth lock, one part of the locking mechanism remains in the cabinet. The part that the key goes into, however separates from the main lock when opened. Generally used for sliding door cabinets, this lock can be rendered unusable if the key and the second half of the device are misplaced. Another option for file cabinet locks is a lock bar, which usually installs on the exterior length of the cabinet. Opened and closed with a padlock, it can replace the locks of individual drawers or be used as a universal lock for all of them.

Other kinds of file cabinet locks can also control one or multiple drawers as well. Choosing a file cabinet as well as a lock depends on what the fixture will be used for. Locks also come in different colors and sizes, while some may be designed to fit certain kinds of cabinets. Help from a store clerk or online research can help determine which lock goes with the appropriate file cabinet.

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