How do Wafer Locks Work?

In contrast to pin cylinder and lever locks, wafer locks used in vehicles are less common. Aside from drawer locks, you’ll also find them in lockers and padlocks.

Philo Felter obtained a patent for the wafer lock in 1868, which was the first time it was documented. This lock featured two sets of wafers and a key with a pattern on both edges, and it was double-bitted.

Springs are used to forcing obstacles into the lock housing to prevent the plug from spinning. On the other hand, Wafer locks employ a succession of single flat pieces of metal called wafers instead of pins. The single-sided wafer lock is the sort you’ll find on a locker.

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Wafer Lock

A collection of flat wafers is employed to prevent the lock from being opened without a particular key in a wafer tumbler lock or simply wafer lock. This pin tumbler lock is identical to the one discussed above and operates similarly.

While they look similar, this lock is quite different from one that is often known as a Disc Tumbler Lock.

The Wafer Tumbler lock prevents the operation of a locking mechanism by using flat wafers as a barrier. Only the correct set of keys will be able to break through the wafers within.

How Do Wafer Locks Work?

There are spring-loaded wafers inside the plug that protrude from the lock’s exterior case.

Each wafer has a rectangular exit at its center. Various vertical locations are used for the outlets.

As a result, the key must have grooves that correspond to the height of each wafer in the output. After each wafer is properly aligned with the key, it is pushed and straightened, allowing the plug to rotate and unlock the lock.

Types of Wafer Locks

Depending on the manufacturer, every wafer lock is different from the next. It is usual to find cabinets and table drawers with a 5-wafer, single-bit lock. Additional variations contain a pile of wafers that are tightly spaced to match the curves of a double-sided key. Hardware retailers carry double-bitted wafer lock designs.

It is also a wafer lock. However, the configuration of the wafer is different for ignition locks. Despite the fact that these locks may have various configurations in their wafers, they nevertheless work identically by employing the same operating system.

It’s worth noting that a few tools have been designed particularly for wafer locks. The tension wrench and the rake tool are combined into one pick. If necessary, you can use a rake or jiggle the tool to create a ledge. Despite the jiggling and raking actions, you should only apply some tension to the wrench.

  • Lock Jigglers
  • Wafer Rakes

In addition, there are extremely specialized picks called ‘Lishi picks’ after the brand that makes them for the more complex wafer locks used in automobiles. A specific type of wafer lock pick is produced for each pick.

You then pick each wafer by utilizing the guide as you go. These picks use the warding to determine where they should be inserted, then work like a rake to pick up all of the wafers at once.

  • The Lishi Car Lock
  • The Inner Groove Rakes

Wafer Tumbler Lock Design

What’s commonly found on the door of an average home is this basic wafer tumbler:


When the bolt is unlocked or locked, this button is activated.

As the wafer is being ejected, springs are placed on its side.


In terms of size and protrusion, a wafer’s dimensions might vary.


Located in this section of the lock is where the plug is housed. Wafers poking into it cause it to cease rotating.


When the appropriate key is inserted, this inner component of the lock rotates. When it is twisted, it engages the bolt mechanism of the locks.

History Of Wafer Tumbler Locks

Philo Felter received the first patent in the United States for a wafer tumbler lock in 1868. The wafer tumbler was improved by Hiram S. Shepardson, who created a single-bitted steel flat key shortly after that.

1878 saw Yale purchase Shepardson’s Lock Co. and Felter’s Lock Co. There were no substantial advancements or improvements in wafer tumbler technology for many years after then.

In 1913, Emil Christoph developed a double-bitted key variant of the wafer tumbler lock. B&S was awarded the switch patent in 1919 for the wafer tumbler that they had invented and manufactured themselves.

A double-bitted key was also employed in their design. A single-bitted five-wafer tumbler lock was patented by Briggs & Stratton’s Edward N. Jacobi five years later. According to archives, this lock was used in 1924 by the Hupp Eight car for the first time.

To the Wilmot Breeden Company in 1929, Willenhall, Ohio-based Josiah Park & Sons brought wafer tumblers to market.

How Much Do Wafer Tumbler Locks Cost?

The Wafer Tumbler Locks price ranges from $10 to $50.

Depending on your budget, locksmiths may offer you many types of wafer tumbler locks for your property.

When it comes to wafer tumblers, strength and quality are typically determining factors in pricing. An extensive and sturdy lock for an entry door costs more than one for a drawer.

Bottom Line

Because Wafer Tumbler Locks do not employ pin tumblers, they are not susceptible to key bumping or pick gun assaults. In addition to damaging wafers, bumping a wafer lock can also cause the bump key to becoming stuck.

Various types of threats can be used against wafer locks:

  • Lockpicking
  • Impressioning
  • Decoding
  • Bypass