The Dale C. Maley Family Web Site

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Wooden Padlock or Warded Lock with Key


I decided to try my hand at making wooden locks using Tim Detweiler's book Making Wooden Locks.



 I ordered and received this book from Amazon in early 2009.  The cover of the actual book I received does not match the picture of the cover shown on Amazon.  See reader reviews for more details.

I decided to build the padlock with the key first:





Making my first Wood lock

The following sequence of images show my progress as I build my first wood lock.

I wanted to use many different colors for the 5 laminations.  I had some walnut logs that have been stored in cardboard boxes for 20+ years.  I decided to start using them up, and they would give some darker color laminations. For the 5 laminations, I used 2-walnut, 1-maple, 1-padauk, and 1-African light hard wood species unknown. I used red oak for the shackle and maple for the key insert. The key is red oak.

Let's start with a piece of walnut log.  The fun part is getting it converted into a piece of rectangular stock !



Wagner Saf-T-Planer on the drill press mills one side flat.  Green vice holds piece of walnust, I slide the green vice and the piece of particle board below it under the planer attachment.  I used a combination of band saw, table saw, and the drill press with the Saf-T-Planer to convert this walnut log into 3/4" boards.




Here is the whole secret of how this wood lock is made with all wood parts, and no steel springs.  The 2 pieces of wood, ash, are springs that close around 2 flats on the shackle and hold it in place.  The key expands these 2 thin strips of ash out of the flats on the shackle to open it.  The author says one must use either hickory or ash for these 2 springs.  I mail ordered some 1/4" thick ash from Rockler for this project. You can see my product review of the ash on Rockler's web site.








Here is the key fitted into the rotating key insert.




You can see the vertical 1/4" dowel that is the key stop.  It prevents the key from rotating more than 90 degrees.




Here the key is inserted between the 2 wood springs, but the key is not opening them.




Here the key has the 2 wood springs wide open. Note on the right hand side that the 2 springs are a bigger diameter than the 3/4" diameter shackle....allowing the lock to open.






Note that laminations are numbered 1 thru 5 on the front to remember the proper assembly sequence.  Now it is time to make the 3/4" diameter shackle.




I have a lot of success gluing the pattern onto the piece using plain white Elmers glue. Once the pattern is cut out, I simply scrub off the paper pattern and glue using a dish cloth and water.  Works great!



Had to set up the old router table and use a 3/8" round-over bit to convert the 3/4" square shackle cross-section to 3/4" round.  Did it in 3 passes (height of router bit).

This can be dangerous to be very careful doing this operation!!!!



Close-up of 3/8" round-over bit.  This is a plain steel bit (I don't have one in carbide) with a steel screw on top versus rotating bearing.  A carbide bit with rotating bearing would probably cut easier.



Author recommends making shackle longer than needed, so you have some square ends to clamp up the piece in the vice.......and this is very good advice!  I sanded using orbital sander shown behind the shackle.......also used Dremel with sanding drum.






Now ready to cut-off the extra square stock ends and put in the grooves and notches.



As my buddy Mick Montgomery would say, "This is Man size work!!"



 Lock is completed except for belt sanding the main lock body.  Coffee cup gives an idea of the size of this padlock.



Because my Engineering friends (like Bruce Baker and Mick Montgomery) will want to be able to dis-assemble this lock to see how it works, I decided to make a removable shackle lock pin.  You are supposed to insert a piece of 1/4" dowel, glue it in...and sand it flush.  I used a piece of round scrap from making the key insert in lamination #5 as a handle and glued it to the 1/4" inch people can easily pull out the shackle stop pin, remove the shackle....and look down in and see the 2 wood springs that make it work.





Here are the various notches and flats required.  The upper flats are for the 2 wood springs to lock the unit.  The lower groove around the piece allows the shackle to rotate 360 degrees when open. The groove on the bottom right prevents the shackle from being pulled out of the lock completely.




Ready for final sanding and finish of polyurethane.  I belt sanded the base with ~80 grit, hit the edges 4 times on a drum sander in the drill press.....then finish orbital sanded using 220 black wet sanding paper.  I like the black wet sanding paper because you can extend the life indefinitely by just rubbing with a wet towel to clean.



 First coat polyurethane applied and parts drying.  Took author's advice and clamped thin strip of scrap in green stick in key insert to hold base while drying.

And now for the finished wooden lock.......







And with a coffee cup to give you something to scale the size of the finished wooden lock.......




 And some closing thoughts on making this first lock....

  • This lock was not near as tough to make as the most complex 4 wood models in the book Making Wooden Mechanical Marvels.
  • It took about 12 hours to make this first lock. It took some additional time to convert the walnut log into 3/4" thick boards which you would not have if your started with 3/4" thick boards
  • Author says making shackle is toughest part, and he is right. It takes time to set up the router table and take 3 passes with 3/8" round-over bit. Then it takes quite of hand sanding to convert 3/4" square to 3/4" round cross-section.  It also takes time to hand cut the flats and grooves on the bottom end of the shackle.
  • Author recommends having Forstner bit set from 1/4" thru 2-1/8". I have a small 7 piece Forstner bit set, but max size is 1". I was able to use hole saw bits for holes over 1" on this project, plus I bought 1-1/8" spade bit for one hole.  I have a complete set of Forstner bits on order from 1/4" thru 2-1/8" by 1/8ths.
  • Over-all a fun project. The all wood locking mechanism is cool. I'm looking forward to the reaction of my engineering co-workers when they play with it







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