How to Use a Cam Lock for Security and Convenience


Cam locks, also called cam and tumbler locks, are one of the most common lock systems in use today. They can be found on everything from tiny padlocks to massive industrial doors, as they have been in use since the 1950s and continue to be refined by inventors and engineers every day. In order to effectively use cam locks, you’ll need to learn how the different parts work together. With the right information, you’ll be able to choose the right lock for your needs and set it up securely with ease.

The Different Types of Cam Locks

Cam locks are ideal for securing large containers, such as dumpsters, because they can be opened with minimal effort. They are also easy to install. Screw the cam lock onto the surface of the container, then tighten it with a wrench. To open it, turn the screw on top counterclockwise until you feel resistance, then continue turning it clockwise until you hear a click and feel resistance again. When you’re finished, turn it counterclockwise back to where it was before to secure it. There are two main types of cam locks: barrel cam lock and disc cam lock. Barrel cam locks are less common than disc cam locks, but they have an advantage in that they can be installed without removing any external hardware from the door. With this type of lock, the barrel is inserted into the edge of the door or frame, with one end protruding out on either side. The barrel is then rotated until it is wedged tightly against the edge of the door or frame. This type of cam is typically used for sliding doors where there’s no space around either side to install an internal cylinder-style lock.

Disc cam locks are more common than barrel style locks because they’re easier to install and require less room around them on either side.

How to Measure for a Cam Lock

  1. Measure the height of the door frame.
  2. Measure the width of the door opening.
  3. Determine how high you want the cam lock handle to be from the floor (usually between 1-4 inches). The cam lock is designed so that it can be mounted as low as 1 inch from the ground or as high as 2-3 inches from the ground. You will want it at least one inch higher than your lowest stair railing if you are installing this on an exterior door, or you will need a keyed cam lock if you are installing this on an interior door where children may have access to windows or other dangerous areas in your house.
  4. Measure the distance from the bottom of the latch bolt to the edge of your door jamb by placing a measuring tape along the inside edge.
  5. 5/8 is the standard size and should work for most doors, but it’s important that you measure before purchasing to avoid having a difficult time trying to install because you purchased something too small.
  6. Decide whether you want manual or automatic operation by measuring for clearance space beneath your door and taking into account any thresholds you might have there.

Installing a Cam Lock

The cam lock is installed on the door frame, with the outside edge at the bottom of the door. After installation, place a pin through both holes on top of the cam lock from the inside of your house. This pin should be long enough so that it will not come out when you open or close your door. There are two ways that you can use this security system: one way is by using a keyed cam lock like we have in our example, which requires a key to open it. The other way is by using an unkeyed cam lock, which is opened by turning it until you hear an audible click sound. Make sure that when you install the first pin all of its teeth are showing. Turn the second pin 180 degrees around so that it’s facing up. Open and close your door to make sure that everything is secure before removing any pins. To remove pins, hold them down while sliding them out; do not pull them directly away from the lock. Once they’re removed, put them back into the holes on top of the Cam Lock where they came from (this ensures proper installation).