There are so many applications that can benefit from keeping it secure with a padlock. Some are immobile like sheds, doors, and hatches for inlets. Others can travel like tool boxes, bikes, even backpacks. Padlocks can come in all shapes sizes and colors. The main focus though is always the same. They are a portable means of lock with a shackle that is designed to pass through some sort of opening. And they are meant to prevent vandalism, use, harm, or theft. They are affordable, come in various sizes and fit to specific applications with a key for easy opening.

What sets a padlock apart as unique in looks and function is the very simple workings that have stood the test of time. There is a curved shackle which can swing open then closes back down into the body. Somewhere on the body is a key hole. The key pushes tumblers that unlock the shackle. That is the basics of what makes a padlock a padlock.

Historic Padlocks

Old padlockHistorically the first ancient versions of a padlock were found from a very long time ago. They dated back to five hundred B.C.E. to three hundred C.E. That would be during the Roman Era. Just like today they were used for the same purposes. Only then they were associated to traveling merchants on the trade routes into China and Asia. In China, versions of padlocks have been noted as used since twenty-five to two-hundred and twenty C.E. in the Dynasty of the Eastern Han. Back then keeping it secure with a padlock meant using padlocks made from silver, bronze, brass, and other materials. As far as China goes they preferred using bronze for their padlocks.

In the western world the spring mechanisms of padlocks have been found at the York Jorvik Viking homestead in old England. The York padlock mechanism dated to eight hundred and fifty C.E. It was just after this that these objects first started being called a “padlock.” It was in this part of the world that the padlock was used to keep livestock within paddocks or an enclosure for livestock. This is where the “pad” in padlock is said to have been put into the modern language.

It was after this time period that padlocks where commonly formed from wrought iron and simplified in design. It was during the early nineteen hundreds after the industrial revolution that railroads helped spur more economical padlock production. The way money was saved in production was in stamping the shells for the locks out of flat stock of metal. With less time in production even though they were not as durable as those just before it the economy of the new style attracted more buyers.

Masterlock padlockIn modern padlocks there is a quantitative rating that measures the resistance to entry. Padlocks can be forced open buy means of such entry tools as drills, hammers, chisels and bolt cutters. There are also other ways to open a padlock without the owner’s key. These would include shims, picks, key duplication, and bump keys. The padlock’s ability to resist these types of opening are measured by organizations around the world. This is how they attain ratings instead of just on strength of material as in the early days of padlocks.

The basics of padlocks are the locking mechanism, the body, and the shackle. The shackle is the part that is shaped like a U. In shackle function it usually swings away when the padlock is open or unlocked. Some modern tech has taken this concept to the next level with flexible cable, straight, and circular shackles. As technology advances keep an eye out for the next phase of shackle advancement. And the specialized applications it might bring.

Why use a padlock? Covering the general uses only opened the door to what you can and should use a padlock for. In modern life a security system that fits in the palm of your hand, requires no electricity, and only the use of a key all for one price is what a padlock means. In common uses today treasures of merchants are less likely to use padlocks than things like protecting bicycles and gym lockers. But that is on the go. Around the house, simple all weather applications like tool sheds, tool boxes, and even smaller padlocks for backpacks and luggage are way more usual. One thing is certain, no matter how you use the padlock you will need to keep good track of the key or keep the website of a good high-powered locksmith handy. You may want your gym shorts back.