Cam and Cabinet Locks: An Overview

July 1, 2014
After some lock history, Locksmith Ledger takes a look at several particularly interesting cam and cabinet locks available to locksmiths

Cabinet locks have been around for more than 130 years. Corbin Cabinet Lock (CCL), founded in 1882 in New Britain, CT, produced early brass cabinet locks equipped with pin tumbler locking mechanisms. Although wafer tumblers were invented a few years after the pin tumbler lock, they were not manufactured or marketed in those days. Manufacturing wafer locks using lathes and milling machines was not practical or cost-effective; the cost of machining the wafer tumbler chambers in a brass lock was high. The reason is wafer locks need a rectangular chamber with a partial cylinder shape to accommodate the spring.

Early die cast wafer locks were developed in the first quarter of the 1900s. In 1919, Briggs & Stratton incorporated their own wafer tumbler lock design for automotive lock applications. An advantage of die casting wafer tumbler locks is the fewer number of components required. However, early wafer locks suffered from cracking as a result of corrosion of the cast components.

Cam and cabinet wafer locks appeared after die casting locks became more practical in the 1920s using improved processes. Die casting provided the ability for high volume production, making wafer locks economical. Today, wafer locks are mostly made of zinc alloy die cast using single- and double-throw lock mechanisms.

Pin tumbler cam and cabinet locks provide a higher level of security, being configured to accommodate commercial keyways incorporating patented and high security lock mechanisms, interchangeable cores and large format cores. Mechanical combination locks, hasp-style cabinet locks equipped with an integrated finger pull and electromechanical cam/cabinet locks also increase security.

Cam and cabinet locks are continuously being developed and refined to provide solutions for residences, and commercial and institutional facilities. For this article, I contacted a few cam and cabinet lock manufacturers to discuss some of their products. Companies are listed alphabetically.

CCL Security

CCL Security began as Corbin Cabinet Lock in 1882. Today CCL produces padlocks, cabinet door locks, desk drawer locks, cam locks, electrical panel board locks, enclosure locks and other specialty lock products including the original Sesamee four-wheel combination lock.

For this article, CCL Security provided information on their 650/651 Series zinc die cast five-disc tumbler cam locks which provide field flexibility to more easily key into an existing lock system. The cam locks are available in four lengths: 7/16", 5/8", 7/8" and 1-1/8". The key pull can be configured for one or two within the 90-degree rotation. Each of the 650/651 Series cam locks is supplied with two cams (one offset/one straight), two stop plates and spline fillers to convert the lock to a one key pull style. These single-bitted lock mechanism cam locks offer 200 combinations.

650/651 Series cam locks are available with the following key numbers: CH751, 8025, 415A and the LS-300. They accommodate popular key bittings used by many companies for specific applications where the locks are often keyed alike.

To accommodate the different spacing and depths, each disc tumbler is approximately .025" thick. The wafer chambers are slightly oversized. The flats of the cuts in the key blade are approximately .045". The disc's depths of cut are either all odd or even number cuts to have a sufficient increment to avoid accidental interchange. Wafer dimensions are shorter than the overall plug dimension, permitting the cut to be slightly over or under the original specifications.

Cut-to-cut spacing is normally .092"-.095" for these different lock manufacturers. The variable is the space for the first cut (shoulder to first cut). This distance for these locks can range from approximately .125" to .140". Having the large flat at each cut permits these bitting configurations to be operated.


CompX International manufactures mechanical and electronic security products including cam locks, cabinet locks and other locking mechanisms used in mailboxes, file cabinets, tool storage cabinets, medical cabinetry, electrical circuit panels and storage compartments. CompX Security Products includes CompX Chicago, CompX Fort, CompX National and CompX Timberline.

CompX Regulator Locks electromechanical pushbutton cabinet door locks have a user code and a supervisor code, each four to eight digits in length. RegulatoR Cabinet Locks operate using two AAA batteries that provide 50,000-plus operations. The battery compartment is accessible from the outside of the cabinet. A low battery indicator notifies when the batteries need to be replaced.

RegulatoR cabinet locks are designed to fit into a ¾" Double D cam lock opening. They are available in three barrel lengths, 7/16", 1-3/16" and 1-3/4", and can be installed on wood or metal cabinet door and drawers. The spacers assist with varying latching points inside the cabinet.

Two versions are offered - manual locking and self locking. The self-locking version features SlamCAM, a spring loaded latch mechanism that allows the user to push the door closed. The latch mechanism retracts automatically locking the lock. The manual locking mechanism requires turning the knob back to the locked position and is packaged with two CompX National cams and FlexaCam. RegulatoR is available in three configurations: right, left and vertical. Location of the door hinges determines hand of door. When facing door, if the hinges are on the right side of the door, the lock must be a right-hand mount.

CompX Timberline’s Double Door Latch is designed to control the movement of the inactive door, through the movement of the active door. The Double Door Latch eliminates the need for a secondary locking mechanism such as an elbow catch, or other device.

This double-door latch is a double-ended latch. Mounted, the active door end of the latch is fully extended, while the inactive door latch end is extended from the body only about ¼". When the active door latch end is fully retracted into the body, the inactive door latch end is fully extended.

As the active door is closed, the activator pushes the latch end against the body, extending the inactive door latch end. When the active door is closed, the extended latch end slides into the catch mounted onto the inactive door, securing the inactive door and preventing it from opening. A slot in the catch acts as a strike to secure the extending latch end. When the active door is opened, the latch end retracts from the catch, permitting the inactive door to be opened.

The CompX Timberline Double Door Latch is available in white and black finishes, with a top-mount kit and a bottom-mount kit for right hand and left hand active doors.

FJM Security

FJM Security Products is a division of the Frank J Martin Company, founded in 1957. Product offerings are in three major categories:  key storage, cabinet locks and padlocks. FJM Security brands include HitchSafe, ShurLok, Combi-Cam, KeyGuard, Combi-Bolt, Combi-Ratchet, MobiSafe, Padlockable Cam and SOBO High Security Padlocks.

For this article, FJM Security Products provided information on their Combi-Cam, Combi-Cam Ultra and Combi-Cam E Locks. The Combi-Cam is a three- and four-wheel combination locks built onto a conventional cam lock barrel. The three-dial model has up to 1,000 possible combinations, and 10,000 possible combinations for the four-dial model. The combination can be changed quickly without disassembly or special tools when the combination is known. To change, enter the combination and depress the reset button. Keep the button depressed while changing the dials to the new combination. The Combi-Cam replaces any ¾" diameter Double D cam lock. Combi-Cams are available with 5/8", 7/8", 1-1/8" or 1-3/8” length barrel. An optional finger pull is available for the three-dial model.

The Combi-Cam Ultra three- or four-dial combination cam lock offers key override and patented code discovery. The three-dial model has up to 1,000 possible combinations and the four-dial model has up to10,000 possible combinations. The tubular lock mechanism has over 50,000 key codes, which can be masterkeyed for greater flexibility.

If a combination is lost or forgotten, the Combi-Cam Ultra code can be retrieved unlocking using the tubular key and then turning all of the dials until they stop. The three or four-digit number in the center line is the combination. Combi-Cam Ultra is available in black or chrome finishes in 5/8", 7/8" and 1-1/8" lengths. Included components are 1-3/8”” straight cam and a 90-degree stop cam.

The new Combi-Cam E electronic lock has a compact profile and retrofits standard ¾" Double D cam locks. The long life battery powered electronic lock has a master, service and user codes with audio and visual feedback and warnings. A low battery warning begins occurring during the final 250 operations. This electronic lock can be set to Locker Mode, a one-time use option. The lock is non-handed, able to be installed left or right hand. The Combi-Cam E meets IP-55 standards for humidity.

Kaba Ilco

Kaba Ilco Corp. offers a range of Ilco branded lock products including cam, cabinet and specialty locks. For this article, we will discuss their tubular and N54G wafer cam lock kits, thumbturn cam locks and latching cam locks. 

The N54G wafer cam lock kits are configured for the single bitted Ilco N54G key blank, using a five wafer tumbler lock mechanism. The substitute Ilco key blank for the N54G is the Y11. The code series is 501-700. These cam locks are available in six lengths: 3/8” (10 mm), 1/2” (13 mm), 5/8” (16 mm), 7/8” (22 mm), 1 1/8” (29 mm) and 1 3/8” (35 mm). In addition to the cam locks and keys, each cam lock kit comes with a 90-degree stop washer, 180-degree stop washer, ring, wood washer, 1-1/4" straight cam and 1-1/4" offset cam.

N54G wafer cam lock spacings are:

1- .130"      2-.225"

3-.320"       4-.415"


Depths are:

1-.250"       2-.235"

3-.220"       4-.205"


Spacing from the shoulder to the center of first cut is .130". The cut-to-cut spacing is .095". The depth increment is .015"

The thumbturn cam lock has a thumbturn in place of the keyed lock cylinder and provides non-secure latching for cam lock applications. To maintain the secured position, thumbturn cam locks are equipped with a ball detent system that indexes between the latched and unlatched positions. They cam locks are available in three lengths - 5/8", 7/8" and 1-1/8" - and can be equipped with any length straight or offset cam.

The latching cam lock is similar to the thumbturn cam lock. Both offer keyless operation. But unlike the thumbturn cam lock, the latching cam lock has a flat face with a full length slot running through the center. The latching cam lock provides a non-key locking mechanism. To operate this lock, a flat blade screwdriver or similar item is required to rotate the latching mechanism.  The latching cam lock is available in a 5/8" length. The maximum material thickness is ¼". It can be installed in three overlay, flush or lip mounted configurations. They can be equipped with any length straight or offset cam.

The tubular cam lock uses the 1137 keyway and the Ilco 1137B key blank. The code series is 1000-8999. This seven pin tumbler tubular lock spacing is 45 degrees from tip to first cut and 45 degrees cut-to-cut. The depth increment is .015"

Tubular cam lock kits are available in three lengths: 5/8", 7/8" and 1-1/8". Each cam lock kit comes with a 90 degree stop washer, 180-degree stop washer, ring, wood washer, 1-1/4" straight cam and 1-1/4" offset,

Olympus Lock

For the past 20-plus years, Olympus Lock Company has been manufacturing and designing rekeyable cabinet and cam lock bodies for third party cylinders. They offered details on three unusual cabinet locks at my request.

The DCP500 is a hasp-style cabinet/locker lock with an integrated finger pull. It has a ¾" Double D barrel that can be installed into a maximum material thickness of 1-1/8". This padlockable cam lock accepts a straight (up to 2-1/2") or offset (up to 1-1/2") cam. It accepts most standard padlocks with a shackle diameter of 3/8" or less.

The 100DR/500DR Cabinet Deadbolt Door Locks with optional 15-1-35 extended bolt increases the overall bolt length to 1-1/2" for the left or the right hand bolt projections. This enables the lock to be located farther from the edge of the door and still provide plenty of bolt engagement. These cylinder removable, rekeyable locks are identical except for the keyway. The 100DR has the National N Keyway and the 500DR has the CCL R1 Keyway. They have 15/16" or 1-3/8" barrel length. The barrel diameter is 7/8". The locks are available with the standard, non-handed or optional key-retaining function. Handing must be specified for key-retaining function.

All MRI cabinet door and drawer lock parts and components are non-ferrous (non-magnetic) metals so they can be used in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) environments. The 100M cabinet door lock uses the National Keyway N Series. The 500M cabinet door lock uses the CCL R1 Keyway. The 200M drawer lock uses the National Keyway N Series. The 600M drawer lock uses the CCL R1 Keyway. These locks are equipped with solid brass cylinders and non-magnetic bar strike. They have 15/16" or 1-3/8" barrel length. The barrel diameter is 7/8". The locks are available with the standard, non-handed or optional key-retaining function. Handing must be specified for key-retaining function.

For More Information

For more information on the products described in this article, contact your local locksmith distributor or visit the following web sites.

CCL Security:

CompX Security Products:

CompX Timberline:

FJM Security:

Kaba Ilco:

Olympus Lock:

For a complete listing of cam and cabinet lock manufacturers, visit our Online Buyers Guide at

To read additional Locksmith Ledger articles on cam and cabinet locks, visit