Cam Lock: Everything You Should Know [2023]

cam locks

Cam locks are small L-Shape or arm-attached locks, mostly used to secure furniture cabinets, drawers, glass doors, or other small enclosures. Cam locks are mainly two parts: an L-Shape bar and a cylindrical keyed nut. 

However, cam locks can be found in different sizes and styles to match the needs of various applications. 

Cam locks are mostly used on furniture items as they are invisible, which does not change the looks of the furniture. It is popular among home and office users because they are easy to use, less expensive and requires little set-up time.

The following are the benefit of using a cam lock:

  • It can be operated with a simple 90-degree turn. 
  • Easy to install.
  • Block water and dust from outside.
  • Easy to rekey.
  • Relatively hard to pick. 

How Do Cam Locks Work?

For the locking mechanism, cam locks mainly consist of two parts: a plug and a screw. The screw is fixed into the board, and the plug is on the other side. An arrow sign is marked on the plug where the screw will enter (so you know you have assembled the cam plug in the hole correctly). And when you use the key and turn the plug clockwise, the plug locks on the screw head and two pieces won’t come apart & when you turn the key anticlockwise, the plug release the screw head, unlocking the lock.

What Are Cam Locks Used For?

A Cam lock is a small lock it is mostly used to secure unwanted access to small household furniture, cabinets, drawers, etc. Following is the list of items where cam locks are mostly used:

  • Lockers 
  • Drawers
  • Cabinets 
  • Mail Boxes 
  • Fuel fillers caps.
  • Motorhomes 
  • Caravan doors
  • Closet
  • Plastic door
  • Containers

How Do You Remove A Cam Lock?

cam locks guide

Cam lock is relatively easy to remove compared to other types of locks. To remove a cam lock, you need two tools: a screwdriver and nail pullers. Using the screwdrivers, unscrew the locking screw. After unscrewing, the lock will not easily come off, so use the nail pullers and pull the cam-lock out. This technique only works if you have access on both ends (inside and out). 

However, if you have only access from the front end, you can use a hook pick to remove the cam lock. Insert the hook pick from the front end of the lock and pull the cam lock cylinder out. Pulling out the cylinder will not be easy, so use your muscle to pull it out.  

How Do You Open A Cam Lock Without A Key?

Losing the key is practically a frustrating experience. However, there are different types of techniques that can be applied to open a cam lock without a key, for example, lock picking and drilling. 

Lock Picking

This is an old technique to open a lock without a keythis technique does not work for all types of locks, but it works for locks such as cam locks. For lock picking, you need a few lock-picking tools, for example, a tension wrench, hook pick, rake, decoder pick, etc. However, if you don’t have tools, you can use 2 paper clips. Click here to know more details about lock picking.


This method can open the cam lock without a key, but it will ultimately damage the lock permanently. To open the cam lock using this method, you will require a drill machine with 1¾ inch drill bit size (depending on the diameter of the cam lock cylinder) and a hook pick. 

Using a drill machine, you need to make a hole from the front end of the cam lock (the hole should be at least one and a half inches long. After making the hole using the drill machine, insert the hook pick and pull the cam lock cylinder out. 

Are There Different Size Cam Locks?

Cam locks come in various sizes, from 1 inch to 20 inches. Small cam locks are used to secure small objects like drawers, and large cam locks are mostly used on doors or large cabinets. Not only size there are also different types of cam locks. Depending on where you want to use the cam lock, you can choose your preferred size& types.

Can Cam Locks Be Rekeyed?

Yes! Cam locks can be easily rekeyed by a professional locksmith. The mechanism of a cam-lock is much simple than other types of locks, so rekeying a cam-lock is relatively easy. A professional locksmith can easily rekey a cam lock by examining its combination.

However, if you are not a locksmith and have no expertise in rekeying locks before, you can use cam lock kits made by ESP that have all the necessary cam lock wafers that can be used to rekey the lock much easier. 

Watch the video below to understand the rekeying procedure of cam locks:

What Size Cam Lock Do I Need?

Cam locks come in different sizes, from 1 inch to 20 inches. Depending on where you want to use cam locks, you will always find one. Following are the standard cam lock size for different applications:

ApplicationCam Lock Size in Inch
Cabinets5/8″, 7/8″
Cabinets drawers3/4
Standard Mailbox8.3’’ x 10’’ x 2.7 (W x H x D)
RV Storage7/8″
Tool Box5/8″
Trailer Entry Door1-1/8″ cylinder, 1-3/4″ lock Plate, 3/4″ diameter.
Guide to cam lock size

If the application has a pre-existing hole for the cam lock, by determining the diameter of the hole, you can easily identify the cam lock size you need. Use a Caliper Gauge to measure the diameter of the hole accurately. Once you have the diameter of the hole, now you can choose your preferred cam lock size. Usually, the cam lock cylinder diameter will be 2 cm more than the hole size.

Are Cam Locks Interchangeable?

Cam locks are like lego; the lock has a few parts and works when all those parts are attached to each other. Cam locks parts are available at different marketplaces and can be brought separately. Each part of a cam lock can be replaced with new part, when it become faulty. 

What Are Electrical Cam Locks?

Electrical cam locks are battery-powered cam locks. Electrical cam locks work automatically when you enter the right password, fingerprint, or authorization code. The electronic cam lock mechanism is the same as a regular cam lock, but electronic cam locks work with electronic power, whereas regular cam locks do not need any electrical power.

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