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Keeping the toddler out: Tot-loks

Yes, this blog is mainly about factory automation software, but since it’s my personal blog, I get to have fun every once in a while (but I do have one rule: no politics).

I recently installed a set of Tot-loks on a cabinet to keep out my toddler who wants to be a monkey (she’s good at climbing). Here are my notes:

  • They’re more expensive than the normal spring latches; the deluxe starter kit cost about $20 (that kit comes with one magnetic key and four locks).
  • Sometimes they are the only solution; for example, if the door does not have enough of a gap for a spring latch and doesn’t have knobs. Plus, they are better looking, since nothing is visible outside the door, even if you could use something like this.
  • They are more work to install and require more modification, since you have to drill a 9/32″ hole almost through the door for the magnetic pickup in addition to driving at least four screws (six is better, but four seems OK).  If you remove the lock later you will have a noticeable (9/32″) hole in the door.
    • I didn’t happen to have a 9/32″ drill bit for my handy Skil drill/driver, but I was successfully able to use a 1/4″ drill bit.
    • The latch plate uses two screws.  The lock part has six screw holes, but it seems to work well with just the front two.
  • Like spring latches, you do need to test that you have installed it correctly.  If possible, test first making sure you can get the door open without using the magnetic key.
    • Of course, it’s often not easily to properly test and still know you can get the door open.  However, I had one lock that refused to open while I was trying to get it all lined up.
    • One way is to check the latch operation (making sure it opens strong using the key) with the door open.  The latch also needs enough space to work, but that can be tricky to check without closing the door.  Maybe using some strong (but not too strong) double stick tape on the latch plate before screwing would help – the tape should be strong enough that you can test operation, but weak enough you can force the door open without excessive force.
    • As always, you have to make sure the latch lines up with the latch plate.
    • The magnetic pickup part (you’ll probably need to use at least one extension piece) has to be close enough to the outer edge of the door to work.
    • The latch needs some space to work.  If it’s jammed against the latch plate, it will not be able to retract.  Sometimes my opening procedure is: push the door back a bit (to give the latch some room), wiggle the key around until I hear the latch retract, open the door while holding the key in place, and then replacing the key in its normal location (don’t forget it inside the cabinet!).
  • I highly recommend buying extra key and keeping it somewhere else – just in case you’re forgetful and lock your magnetic key in the cabinet.  (I just might have some experience with this…)
  • The lock can be broken with a screwdriver and a lot of force (handy in case you just locked your one key inside the cabinet, or you didn’t adjust the lock properly during installation).  So far my experience indicates you have a 50% chance of breaking the lock (thankfully, my sample size is very small).

Tony

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