Cam locks are a type of hardware used for locking drawers, cabinets and other furnishings. These locks consist of a base, which contains a keyhole, and a long tailpiece or tongue known as a cam. When a key is inserted into the base, the cam is rotated between 180 and 90 degrees. Depending on how the lock is installed, the cam will fit into the lock strike in one position, and will be free of the strike when moved to a different position. Cam locks are among the most simple, affordable and easy-to-install locking devices used today.
While cam locks are commonly associated with file cabinets and desks, they are also used for a variety of other applications. These locks are found in electrical panels, trophy cases and other types of display units. They can be used on mechanical access panels to prevent tampering, and are even found in some older types of windows. Some school lockers are also secured using cam locks.
Cam locks are available in many styles and finishes to suit the needs of various applications. Larger, sturdier cam locks are more secure, and can be used to larger pieces of furnishing or high security applications. Mini cam locks are used in small panels and other areas where space is at a premium. Standard steel or brass finishes are used for indoor applications, while weather-resistant materials like galvanized or stainless steel can be used outdoors.
These locks are operated using flat keys, rounded keys or even combination mechanisms. Flat keys are typically turned in the lock to rotate the cam, while tubular keys may need to be pressed or turned. Combination mechanisms allow users to operate the lock without the use of a key, and may be more convenient for applications like school lockers or some filing cabinets.
While these locks offer a number of advantages, there are also a number of potential drawbacks that must be considered. These locks are not typically as durable or secure as other types of locking devices, and may not be sufficient for high security applications. They are typically easy to break into by drilling or using other lock picking tools. Some high security cam locks are designed to resist drilling and picking, but are more expensive than standard units. Finally, it may be difficult to impossible to replace the keys on a cam lock if they are misplaced, or if additional keys are required.