Padlocks: Selecting the Right One for the Job

Are padlocks important? We think so, and we really can't emphasis enough the importance of knowing about them. We'll give you a brief history then dive right in so you can select the one perfect for protecting your property from thieves and vandals.

Padlock History

The word "padlock" was coined sometime after 800 AD and is derived from the words "paddock" and "lock." In case you didn't already know, a paddock was a place early tradesmen used to park their horses and other beasts-of-burden" for the evening while they rested. As part of the "rental agreement" a lock was commonly supplied to ensure they would still be there in the morning. The name "padlock" stuck and is commonly used to describe a lock that is not part of the structure or door being secured.

Padlock Improvements

Today, many improvements have been made to the padlock. Some improvements are to better fill the need of securing a particular item. Other variations, usually in materials, have been made to satisfy whether or not the lock is intended for use indoors or out. However, if you look at the different styles on the market today, the most common variations seem to be designed to thwart thieves in one way or another.

Padlock Types

  • General Purpose: These locks (keyed and combination) can usually be found quite inexpensively at your local big-box superstore, in bulk if needed. Being made of less expensive metal, they typically don't stand up to adverse weather conditions and can rust or even freeze you out.
  • Keyed Padlocks: Keyed locks can also be purchased in bulk if needed. However, the better makes can be purchased with a master key that will operate all the locks in the set with each lock having there own separate key as well.
  • Combination Padlocks: Number combination locks are good for allowing several people access without having to keep track of keys. This can be okay for most applications, however be advised that these are the easiest to break into silently if the thief has the time. Some reasonable advise for letter combination locks is to use an acronym instead of a word. Something like "DTMB" for "Don't Touch My Bike" is much better than using the word "BIKE" for securing it.
  • Adjustable Padlocks: These locks are very versatile for securing different things such as bikes, gate and trailer doors. This sort of lock has a shackle that will accommodate most distances between objects up to 5 inches apart. However, because of this feature, they are the most vulnerable to bolt cutters and hacksaws.
  • Serviceable Padlocks: Local locksmiths will have access to this type of padlock. This type of padlock offers the option of a locksmith being able to change the key that open it. These padlocks also are some of the most secure. This is because they are commonly made for a more specific application, indoors or out. These padlocks are usually made of quality materials and better able to withstand lock-picking and forced entry attempts.

Selecting the right padlock for the purpose intended, is something an experienced, professional locksmith can certainly advise you on, more than a typical short blog post ever could. If you're at all concerned with keeping a certain piece of property safe and secure from theft or vandalism, we believe you should contact your local locksmith for advice you can bank on.

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