British Standard Mortice Locks – alcatraz edinburgh locksmiths



Old mortice locks versus present day British standard mortice locks


Old type mortice locks

Old mortice lock from house in Edinburgh

Old 2 lever mortice lock

As a practising Edinburgh locksmith for many years I often discuss with my colleagues the nightmare jobs we encounter. From the stories I tell them and the ones they tell me it seems the most difficult job a professional locksmith will encounter is ones that involve British standard mortice locks.

We can get called to emergency situations  for a variety of reasons. For example Sometimes people lose the keys to their house or their lock becomes faulty and they are trapped inside the house.

Back in the day a mortice lock was fairly simple to open. If a customer was locked out or a fault had occurred inside the lock, usually the situation could be sorted out very fast indeed. Inside these old locks were usually 2 or 3 levers (part of the lock lifted by the key). Anyone with a little knowledge of these locks could manipulate the levers to open the lock. A locksmith would have the Door open in a couple of minutes using ‘try out keys’ more commonly known as skeleton keys.


Introduction of the modern British standard mortice locks

British standard mortice locks that Alcatraz Edinburgh locksmiths install

British standard mortice lock

Now because these old locks were so easy to open many households were being broken into by opportunistic thieves. After so many claims being made for these burglaries Insurance companies decided enough was enough. They began invalidating insurance policies unless the insured property was secured with 5 lever British standard lock. This is where the problems begun for thieves and Locksmiths alike!

some of the features added to these British standard locks are listed below

  • They would contain a minimum of 5 levers as opposed to the old locks which contained 2 or 3 levers. An extra 2 levers doesn’t sound much but it makes a big difference in the world of lock picking
  • As well as adding extra levers, most of these new British standard mortice locks had ‘false gates’ fitted to the levers. These gates are little grooves cut into the levers which snag the lock unless lifted to the exact height with the correct key. This means if anyone was trying to pick the levers, unless they got each lever to the exact position the lock would fall into a ‘false gate’ and jam up. even if you had picked the first 4 levers correctly if you got the last one wrong the lock would jam and you would need to start all over again. This is why they are almost impossible to pick open – even for a professional locksmith!
  • Another safety feature they added to these new locks is a ‘metal curtain’. This curtain goes around the keyhole and stops anyone from sticking up picking tools through the keyhole to Manipulate the levers.
  • These locks were also fitted with much larger bolts which fits into a ‘metal box’ in the Door frame when locked. Therefore, kicking the Door in was no longer an option, you would more likely break a leg before you broke down a door containing a British standard mortice lock
  • Inside the bolt of this new type of lock, manufacturer’s would also fit rollers. These rollers are a very simple yet effective security measure. In the past thieves or locksmiths attending a lockout could simply wedge open a gap down the Door frame and saw through the bolt with a hacksaw. However with these rollers inside the bolt, if someone tried to saw the bolt the rollers would just turn therefore making it impossible to cut through.
  • One of the last methods a locksmith will use when attending a lockout is to drill the lock open and move the levers manually into the open position. Lock manufacturers became wise to this and starting covering the lock case in a hard plate metal. This type of metal is very hard to drill through unless you have special hard plate drill bits which are very expensive, and hard to obtain outside the locksmith industry.

So as you can see from the added security features above, Instead of opening a mortice lock in a minute a locksmith could be there for a couple of hours opening a Door. Obviously this is good for your home security and insurance companies alike. However, if someone is locked out they will now have to pay quite a bit of money to get back in. If they try and force entry themselves by kicking the door, because of the size of the bolt of these locks they will definitely cause damage to the Door and frame. This damage could sometimes cost hundreds of pound to repair!

My advice would be if you don’t have British standard mortice locks fitted on your property take the steps to get them installed. They are not only important in mortice locks all locks should be British standard. If you are locked out  and your door is fitted with the high security locks above, call our Edinburgh emergency locksmith number for free advice. Even with all the safety features described above, we have access to specialist tools and equipment which can still bypass all the safety features stated above. Not that the task will be fast or easy but it will cost a lot less than buying a new door and frame and paying a joiner to install them.






Open A Door Locked From Inside





I had to feel sorry for a customer in north Edinburgh this month. I Got a phone call  from a man asking if I could open a door locked from inside -his bathroom door! he was stuck inside the toilet and had tried everything to get the door open. eventually he gave in and phoned some emergency locksmiths in Edinburgh.

When I got out his family were outside the bathroom door laughing at the pickle he’d found himself in. his friends had also got wind of what had happened and were phoning his mobile to wynd him up.  The problem with his situation was the lock was a door security bolt which is

open a door locked from inside. Alcatraz Edinburgh locksmiths

Door security bolt often fitted to internal doors

Morticed inside the door and locks into the door frame. There was no keyhole on the outside of the door and his bathroom was on the first floor of the house. So there was nothing I could do unless he wanted me to force open his door with a crowbar- not ideal because that could damage the door and the frame.


How to open a door locked from inside

Door security bolts are not high security locks but they serve a purpose for internal doors such as bathrooms and bedrooms. These door security bolts are easy to fit and are relatively cheap at around £10 for a pack of 2.

I decided the best course of action would be to use a method i learnt a few years ago from another Edinburgh locksmith. I would go outside and throw a rope through the bathroom window. I could then put all the tools in a bag and attach it to the rope, which could then be lifted into the bathroom. I would then guide him through the process of how to open a door locked from inside a bathroom. When I was passing the tools up outside, the neighbours in the next garden were laughing, they seemed to think he could open the door with a credit card – which would not have worked on this type of lock!

The tools i passed up to open a door locked from inside was a wedging tool and a hacksaw blade. I then went back in the house and up stairs to outside the toilet door. I told the man to open the door he would need to put the wedging tool (you could also use a large screwdriver) into the gap between the door and the frame and wedge open a big enough space so he could see the bolt of the lock. I told him to keep this gap between the door and the frame by holding the wedging tool in place with his hip. I then told him to pick up the hacksaw blade and start sawing through the bolt.

After a good 10 minutes he eventually cut through the lock! We both had a giggle when the door was opened. He was sweating from the effort needed to get through the bolt, but just relieved to be out. I decided Because he did all the work getting the door open I gave him a free lock to replace the faulty one.


If you ever need advice on opening a lock, contact one of the many reputable locksmiths in Edinburgh who will happily help you out.






Open A Locked Door With Credit Card – Is It That Easy?

Due to providing an emergency locksmith Edinburgh service, we see some sights when attending jobs where people are locked out.

We find that most people have a bash at opening their own doors, before biting the bullet and phoning a locksmith. Some people think they can open a locked door with credit card, or pick the lock open with a hair clip!

Listed Below is the 3 most common things we see when going out to job. The pros and cons of attempting each method will also be discussed.


1. kicking the door in:

Pros – if it works you don’t have call around for a locksmith and you will have saved yourself around £50 – £75 (depending on the time of the lockout and the locksmith prices of the company you call)

cons- you could break your leg or give yourself some other kind of injury. However If you do manage to kick the door in there’s a very high chance you will have damaged the frame of the door and the locks themselves. Therefore unless your a dab hand at DIY or you know someone who is you will need to pay a joiner to repair your door frame and possibly the door. You may also have to buy new locks and pay someone to install them. So as you can see this form of getting into your house could end up costing you hundreds of pounds!


2. picking the lock:

Pros – if it works you will probably feel great! Not to mention the money you’ll save on calling out an expert.

Cons – it doesn’t work!! I know most people have seen the movies where someone will put a paper clip in the lock, waggle it around for a few seconds and the door pops open. If only it did work this way life would be easy for locksmiths and thieves alike! the chances are you will just be wasting your time and if the picking object snaps in the lock you might need a new lock.

To pick a lock properly takes years of locksmith training and experience, and you need the right kind of lock picks. There are hundreds of different variations of picks which all serve a different purpose. However even with all these picks at their disposal a professional locksmith still might not be able to pick open your lock. So as you can see a paper clip just wont cut the mustard!


open a locked door with credit card

open a locked door with credit card

3. open a locked door with credit card

Pros – if you manage to pick open a locked door with credit card you won’t need to phone around for help and you’ll save yourself some money.

Cons – its highly unlikely it will work! I have been out to a few jobs where the customer has tried to open their door with a credit card and the broken card is still wedged in the door when I arrive. A credit card could work on an internal door in a house to open a basic latch or cupboard lock etc as these doors can be thin. However, the main reason it won’t work on a main door lock is that the credit card is neither flexible or long enough. When a locksmith try’s to ‘slip’ open a Yale type lock they use special card called ‘mica card’ which is around double the length of a credit card and so flexible it can fold totally back on itself. This type of card is needed because to get to the latch on a Yale type lock, the card needs to be flexible enough to bend around 2 corners and travel into the frame (up 4 four inches) to reach the latch of the lock.


I hope this little blog on how to  open a locked door with credit card and the other homemade lock opening techniques has enlightened you, and that it will save you time and money in the future if your locked out. Which if you are Alcatraz – Edinburgh locksmith is just a phone call away 24 hours a day!



Pay per click ads (PPC) – know the risks

Being a modern day Locksmith can be tough. We are in one of the most competitive trades in the United kingdom. It is almost impossible to get on page 1 of Google, never mind top spot on page one.  When searching for anything on Google (or whatever browser you use) you will notice the websites at the top of the page have little boxes beside them with the letters ‘ad’ at the side. These websites pay the search engines money to be placed at the top – sometimes thousands of pounds a week! This form of advertising is called ‘pay per click. Every time a potential customer clicks a website using the ‘ppc’ advertising that company pays the search engine money.


The purpose of this blogpay per click

to highlight why i think these websites should be avoided like the plague! Listed below are just some of the reasons i think they should be bypassed.


Top of Google in a day

Websites that are organically at the top of Google (not ppc) will be established websites which have in some cases took years to reach their position. They have built up trust with the search engines and may have many good reviews from customers on places like Google +. However in contrast the ‘pay per click’ websites at the very top of search results can be owned by someone who’s built a website in the morning and later that day be at the top of page one. This can pose many risks to a potential customer. For example these traders could be unqualified and uninsured, not to mention their prices will be highly inflated to pay for the PPC advertising.


National companies

Another problem with these ‘pay per click’ adverts is they are used by ‘national companies’ who make themselves out to be a local company. For example say someone types in ‘emergency locksmith Edinburgh‘ into google to find a local Edinburgh locksmith. some people will just click on the first website at the top of page one. The customer thinks they will be connected to locksmiths in Edinburgh or at least in the Lothian area. However, in reality they are phoning a ‘national company’ call centre usually hundreds of miles away. These national companies charge extraordinary prices for a job a local tradesman would do for half, sometimes a third of the price. The irony of it is these ‘national companies’ will use the local tradesmen to do the job but only pay them a fraction of what they have charged the unwitting customer!


My experience of pay per click ads

I nearly fell for one these pay per click adverts a couple years ago when I didn’t know any better. The drains outside my house were blocked up and sewage was backing up through my kitchen sink and onto the floor. In a panic I just typed ’emergency Plummer Edinburgh’ into the search engine and clicked on the website at the top of page. I got through to an English sounding woman which seemed quite strange considering I though I was phoning an Edinburgh Plummer. Anyway I was told it would cost £120 for the Plummer to attend and that’s not including parts. Something told me that was not right so I went onto Google maps and typed in my search again and picked a company who was based just down the road. The Plummer came out and unblocked my drains for a total cost of £60!

I hope this small blog is been of help as nobody likes being conned. My advice would be if looking for a service pick one of the naturally ranked sites on Google which has plenty of customer feedback and avoid pay per click ads at all costs!


Best Door Locks

 Inappropriate locks fitted to a property


Best door locks 

As an emergency Edinburgh locksmith I got called to a lockout yesterday at one of the busiest pubs in the city. The landlord had the key for the lock but the door would not open, So he phoned a few locksmiths for a quote. After he received my quote he asked if i could go there straight away, the pubs customers were due soon and the staff were waiting to get in – so no pressure on me!

When I arrived I noticed the door was coated in reinforced steel. It had no windows or letterbox and was fitted with only 1 lock cut into the steel. The owner gave me the key for the lock, which was a basic nightlatch or what most people know as a Yale lock (not the best door locks

best door locks

Basic Yale lock

on the market! – better off going with a ERA or Walsall!). I tried turning the key but it only moved a few millimetres in either direction – This means the snib on the lock has moved into the deadlocked position.

With this scenario a locksmith would normally put a  mirror through the letterbox and a long tool to lift the snib. However this door didn’t have a letterbox, just one big steel door!

I had no choice but to get out the crowbar. I could tell the staff were thinking good luck getting through that door with a crowbar! However, 2 ‘light’ tugs and the door was open.

Everyone seemed shocked how easy this heavy duty door was opened with a simple tool you can buy at most DIY stores. All in all I was in the premises in under 2 minutes of arriving!


The main reason for this post

to highlight the fact that nightlatch locks are not the best door locks when used on their own, and especially not on business premises with thousands of pounds worth of stock!

Night latches should ALWAYS be used in conjunction with a 5 lever British standard mortice lock. These mortice locks are amongst the best locks on the market for adding security to a door. They are morticed into the door and have a large bolt that goes deep into the actual door frame. This makes it almost impossible to force entry. Here at Alcatraz Edinburgh Locksmith Services, we will always try to educate our customers so that they are not spending unnecessary money in the future. If you have any specific questions related to increasing the security of your property, then give us a call today! – 0131 467 7675







Locksmiths In Edinburgh – Home Security Tips

Locksmith Edinburgh – home security tips

With summer around the corner locksmiths around Edinburgh will be busy repairing locks due to burglaries. Listed below are some security tips to decrease your chances of having an unwanted visitor! The staff at Alcatraz want to give you the best chance of avoiding the pain of a break in, and ruining your holiday return.

1. Avoid social media

Going on summer holiday’s is an exciting time. you can relax for a week or two whilst others are still at work. However, If you post about your holiday on Facebook, that post will reach everyone on your friends list. If your friends like that post, all THEIR friends will see that post too. So as you can see, a comment about an upcoming holiday could be reaching thousands of people. Some of whom are not very nice!

2. communicate with neighbours

If you have good neighbours tell each other the times you are going away. This way you can listen out for each others house, and look out for anything unusual.

3. don’t highlight your absence

If you go away, cancel stuff that may be left on your door step, which highlights your absence. Postpone things like paper and milk deliveries. Tell delivery companies not to leave parcels at the door. purchase a timed light: These lights will switch at the set times, giving the illusion someone is at home.

4. Secure garages and sheds

Make sure all out buildings are properly secured. A locksmith will usually attend a few forced entries avery month where a shed padlock has been cut away, or a garage lock forced open. Thieves know people keep valuables in these places. They also know most of these locks are flimsy at best!

5. Review your home security

Many security companies (including Alcatraz locksmiths) offer a free home security survey. They walk round your house and identify any weaknesses in your security. Some of the fixes are very inexpensive. For example a window \ patio lock only costs a few pound, but can enhance your security vastly. Also, just having a good quality door lock on the most important doors in your home will go a long way to increasing the security of your property. We use great quality locks such as Union, and ERA.


Follow the simple tips above and stay one step ahead of the burglar this summer! If you need any other tips on keeping your property safe call us anytime day or night or type ’emergency locksmith Edinburgh’ into your search engine and I’m sure one of my colleagues will be happy to give you some free advice.

Home Security : Some Essential Tips For This Summer



As a practicing locksmiths in Edinburgh we see on a daily basis why home security has never been more important! when it comes to fitting windows and doors the options are endless. With all these variations its important to know how each mechanism can be further secured. This in turn will decrease the chances of a burglary and improve you home security. Gone are the days when a simple bolt is enough to keep your belongings and loved one’s safe. staying ahead of intruders now an ongoing battle. below is a list of ways to increase the home security in your home.


1. Wooden Front Doors

The standard lock for most wooden front doors is a rim latch. commonly known as a Yale lock. However this alone is not enough to secure a property. A five lever lock should be fitted too for additional home security. this helps distribute any weight put against the door evenly.

2. UPVC Doors

multi-point locks are fitted to UPVC doors when they are made. it’s not usually possible to fit additional locks. Instead, to avoid ‘lock-snapping’ (a method of breaking the Euro cylinder on most UPVC doors) you should upgrade to an ‘anti-snap’ cylinder.

3. Sliding Patio Doors

These doors you usually find leading out onto a patio or decking. More modern varieties come fitted with a multi-point locking system built in. If yours aren’t; then a regular bolt at the top or bottom of the door will prevent the door from being opened from outside. as these doors are usually at the back of the building and allow direct access to the house, some homeowners decide to install a locking metal grill. These can be closed and secured when the doors are not in use.

4. French doors

like sliding patio doors, French doors offer to the home. this can be a very tempting option for burglars. Mortice rack bolts or mounted locking bolts can be fitted to the top and bottom of French doors, in addition to a five lever (British Standard 3621) lock in the middle. Hinge bolts, regardless of whether the doors open inwards or outwards, are also the best way to secure this type of door.

If you need more information on how to increase the security of your home, then please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us or type emergency locksmith Edinburgh into Google for a list of companies that can offer you. Advice. Our expertise in the industry comes from high quality training, and we are confident that you’ll get the best quality work done possible when you choose Alcatraz Edinburgh locksmith.

Emergency Locksmiths In Edinburgh

Emergency Locksmith Edinburgh – Prices

From what I’ve heard, following is the main concern people have when calling emergency locksmiths in edinburgh: how much will it cost me?

This concern is understandable. Calling emergency Locksmiths in Edinburgh is not something people budget for! judging by some stories Ive read online, customers concerns can be justified. Some of the stories include people paying double they should for an emergency locksmith in Edinburgh.

Say someone is locked out and needs a Edinburgh locksmith. Usually they will phone a couple of companies for a quote. This is where the problem can begin!

Some emergency locksmiths in Edinburgh will give a price for getting you into your property, say £50 for example. This price sounds reasonable, considering it could be 11pm at night. However, what they don’t tell the customer, is thats the price for opening the property non destructively (without destroying the lock).

As modern locks are becoming more advanced, the chances of locksmiths picking locks are decreasing. This is where the low quote locksmith makes his money!

If they destroy your lock to gain entry, you will be charged for a new lock, possibly a fitting charge, and with some companies VAT to top things off! So as you can see your £50 quote is long gone!

At Alcatraz – locksmiths Edinburgh we do not conduct ourselves in the above manner. All our prices are fixed, and we’ll tell you over the phone the price for destructive and non destructive entry: the difference will NEVER be more than £20, because if we need to destroy the lock, you will only pay for the lock, fitting is free.

Our labour charge starts from only £45 (vat included), and 9 out of 10 jobs are completed within the hour. We also only use top quality lock suppliers and brands such as Yale, Walsall and many more. Take a look at what some of  our other clients have been saying! 

For a free quotation call us today.