Padlocks – They’re all the same, aren’t they?

This was pretty much what I always thought. The bigger the padlock, the  better, and made of cast iron too. Wow! That’s the one for  me!

The Downside Of The Internet

That was how I thought, until I saw a video on YouTube and then I learnt otherwise. It appears that the simple, traditional design padlock’s shackle ( U-piece )  section can be broken out of the body quite easily. A simple move with innocent looking tools, means tough looking , poured metals like cast iron are far weaker metal in many planes (directions) than steel  or stainless steel  housings  and can more easily be burst apart  or be cut with the well known, but cumbersome,  bolt-cutters. So if you have a padlock that is easily accessible and not under regular watch, you may have a problem with anyone who fancies a go at it! There are of course exceptions to this rule, but will be noticeably more expensive than others, so I started looking at alternative designs I saw in the local shops. The traditional looking but with a built up shoulder around the shackle , multi-layered (laminated ) steel or the circular (disc lock) design appear far better and are usually ‘deadlocking’ so as to not spring open if damaged the way traditional padlocks do.

The disc lock design has a particularly small exposed ‘throat’ area for the locking bar, which prevents most type of tools even been able to be inserted to cut or break it apart. Designed by the manufacturer Abus it is seen as a superior lock that many have copied the design of,   but some copies use thin cases that can be smashed. Abus then overcame this by inserting circular discs into their design, making it amazingly strong and difficult to even drill out.  Many designs  of padlock also  seem to employ brass or stainless steel bodies to avoid corrosion weakening  from the great British weather .

padlock-designs

Last year, I did make the mistake of buying a smart looking Pound Shop ,  ‘weatherproof padlock’ with neat looking  rubber cover. After the winter fitted to my shed, it was near useless, full of water and corrosion, so the key would not, at first, even fit the barrel!

Combination padlocks are also not regarded well as they are limited by proportional number of dial to combinations. i.e. a four dial bicycle lock can be cracked in about 40 minutes by a bored child., so again not to be used in unsupervised locations.

A casual glance at hardware stores such as Wilkinsons in Cannon Park, reveal own brand (Wilko) Disc models they list as 60mm (this refers to the outside case diameter) @ £10.00 and the larger 70mm model at £11.00. The Abus and other brands such as Yale locks may cost more, but obviously quality brands demand a premium. Take care to always ensure the throw bolt (or shackle) diameter is measured to actually pass through the application you are securing as these sizes do not relate to that dimension.

Another  very strong design is the side sliding bolt or shutter / container lock which you may see on shop front shutters. The bolt is pushed sideways through the top of the body, again offering a small ‘throat’ area to exposure. This is also considered to be a very strong design and is often an insurers minimum spec. for business use.

Measure your application careful and try to purchase the largest padlock you can fit to secure it. If you are fitting additional exterior mounted ‘hasp and staple’, always buy a nice heavy gauge unit and ensure all fixings are hidden once it is closed. Through wooden buildings I recommend discarding the supplied screws and  using fine machine screws/bolts and nuts with large spacer washers inside  to prevent levering off. Some high quality units come with additional covers and others have integral locks, so you can’t actually misplace the lock whilst the application is in use!

padlock-variantsAs with all locks, the key lever quantity is an essential part of the design and 7 levers is far more complex to pick than 4 lever design, so go for higher numbers for peace of mind. Lock picking starter kits are now freely available on the internet, so we must guard against being  ‘easy pickings’. (Excuse the pun!)

There are lots of variants of padlock in superstores and I noted that Homebase (Canley A45) in particular, does keep an impressive range of this type of security products and quality brands, and other stores such as B&Q superstore and to a lesser extent, Wickes.

Sheppards  D.I.Y on Broad Lane is also always on my ‘first visit list’ for any hardware products as prices are always very competitive and better, staff are knowledgeable and give sound fitting advice.

NOTE: If you require, perhaps for simplicity, a number of padlocks on a particular single property, or even for securing on a number of separate locations, matched sets of up to 4 identically keyed padlocks can also be purchased in packs. This keeps it simple for the elderly with perhaps a  garden shed, maybe two garages or tool storage/ outside toilet  etc now just needing  a single key. And the other keys  could  of course be supplied to other, trusted  parties.