Disc tumbler lock

The underside of a disc tumbler lock.

A disc tumbler lock or Abloy Disklock is a lock composed of slotted rotating detainer discs. A specially cut key rotates these discs like the tumblers of a safe to align the slots, allowing the sidebar to drop into the slots, thus opening the lock. Unlike a wafer tumbler lock or a pin tumbler lock, this mechanism does not use springs. From a security standpoint, the disc tumbler lock cannot be bumped. Because they do not contain springs, they are better suited for areas with harsh conditions and are often used at outdoor locations like railroad and public utility installations.[1]

Disk tumblers are difficult to pick and are sold as "high security" locks. Picking the lock is not impossible, but requires a lot of time, a dedicated, professionally made tool and special expertise. This level of difficulty tends to drive attention to alternative methods of gaining entry. The locking mechanism can be disabled destructively by drilling into the lock to destroy the sidebar. Anti-drilling plates can be installed to prevent this.

In areas of the world where this type of lock has historically been rare or unknown, the term "disc tumbler lock" is sometimes mistakingly used to refer to wafer tumbler locks, which are much less secure and are commonly found on desks and file cabinets.

The lock was invented by Emil Henriksson in 1907 and manufactured by Abloy. Another popular brand in Malaysia is Solex. ABUS manufactures padlocks and cycle locks employing disc tumbler cylinders in their Plus line.


The classical Abloy design consists of a notched hemicylindrical key, and a lock with detainer discs with holes ranging from a hemicircle (180°) to a 3/4 circle (270°). The key is inserted and rotated 90 degrees. Notches, machined to an angle, correspond to complementary angles in the holes of the discs. For example, if the hole is 270°, the key is 180°, and if the hole is 240° (270° minus 30°), the key is 150° (180° with 30° notch) of the circle. In addition, there is a notch in the perimeter of each disc. A sidebar inside an opening in the lock cylinder around the discs, and an edge in the casing obstructs the movement of the cylinder beyond the 90°.

When a correct key is inserted and turned, all the discs will rotate such that notches in the perimeters line up. This allows a sidebar to drop from the cylinder into the slot, so that it does not obstruct the cylinder, allowing the cylinder to rotate and open the lock.

The lock is locked again by rotating it into the other direction, sliding the sidebar back into the cylinder opening and allowing the straight edge of the key to return the discs to the scrambled "zero" position.


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