Our building manager Jose decided the building, and all our apartments, will be “more secure” Curse of the Upside Down Lock!if he changes all the locks from Rightside Up to Upside Down.

I discovered this insanity, this madness, this curse of the Upside Down Lock — now means we have to turn all our keys upside down so the teeth face downward in order to fit into the building locks. After a lifetime of living “teeth up” when it comes to inserting keys,

I have to admit the only person who is frustrated by this new Attack of the Locks is me and not “crooks and burglars” as Jose claims. Jose also thinks using upside down locks puts “less torsion” on the key and it “makes your wrist feel better” after turning keys The Right Way all day long.

Has anyone else been exposed to this New Key Madness? Or is this just another one of Jose’s bright ideas that results in making the entire building darkly miserable? Did I miss the memo on new lock theories?


  1. Hi David,
    Are you sure that keys inserted with their teeth up is the correct position for locks?

    … turn all our keys upside down so the teeth face downward in order to fit into the building locks …

    I’ve never ever put a key into a lock where the teeth didn’t face down, including my car, PO Box, extra-heavy duty storage padlock, and the locks at home and work.
    I have experienced locks that twist the wrong way. I could never figure out how to unlock the VU house in Cambridge, England without thinking hard because the key lock rotated the wrong way. I wonder if they do things differently overseas or if that was just our building?

  2. Now that’s strange, Chris!
    Every lock I’ve ever opened in my life is with teeth up, not down!
    In the image for today’s post I had to flip it upside down to get the teeth to point downward.

  3. I take back the part about the car keys — they have teeth on both sides. 🙂
    I saw Bob Villa suggests putting the lock so that it is “teeth up” to keep dust from interfering with the lock.

  4. Chris —
    I think you and Jose are the new “Big Two” and in your own Key World!
    I know professional locksmiths pick locks right side up because they need to imitate the teeth of the keys. Can you image having to push pins and manipulate cylinders upside down?
    Jose, after having our mailbox keys live “teeth up” for four years decided a year ago to turn them sideways. Have you ever tried to insert a key on a keyring sideways? It’s very clumsy.

  5. I take back everything — my deadbolt lock is “teeth up” and the lever handle keyhole is sideways. My locking mailbox is also positioned sideways.
    It’s amazing how a tool I use every day is something I never really notice. I always thought the teeth were inserted teeth down, but all of the locks I have looked at around the house aren’t like that at all.

  6. Thank you for giving us an early morning thrill, Chris!
    You have been rightly restored back to your proper place in the original “Big 2.”
    Now… is Jose insane or what?!!

  7. Maybe Jose should switch to electronic keypad locks so that we don’t have to worry about keys. 😉
    My office control access during office hours using keypad locks. And, I have one that controls the deadbolt on the front door and another that controls the garage door so my 9-year-old doesn’t have to worry about losing keys. The key to security there is to tell anyone with the code to keep it secret!

  8. Hi Chris!
    Ha! I honestly think Jose installed a lock upside down and then was too tired to go back and put it right and so he came up with this new “theory” about upside down being more secure than right side up and that became the “new install theory” from then on.
    Hey! Proximity cards are even better than punching in numbers! Then you can track who entered and left and how long they stayed. If you’re worried about losing the card, implant an RFID chip in the hands!

  9. Hi David!!
    Hmmm, lets see. For the front foyer door and our apartment door, the teeth face up. For our mailbox, the teeth face down. We’re currently having problems with our front foyer door though. The lock is broken so when we turn our keys, we have to be careful not to turn them too far because the catch keeps snapping back into place so we can’t open the door. It’s damn annoying when you have your hands full when you’ve been shopping!

  10. Thanks for the Key Report from Canada, Dawn!
    I hope you and Tara and Jeff are all doing well in your new digs. I read about the fire. I hope you are all doing okay even though you weren’t in the direct line of fire.
    I agree locks are funky things and need to be handled with care much too often! We, too, have a wonky front door lock that you have to jiggle just right to get into the building. Sheesh! Gimme an implant already!

  11. Now this is funny!
    I remember my first day in my apartment in USA – I fumbled for 25/20 minutes while entering my house to figure out that the key worked in a different way than it used to in India…
    Every key worked differently here – my door lock, closets, mailbox – I felt utterly confused and frustrated!
    It was always upside down back in India and my apartment in USA was completely opposite!

  12. Hi Katha!
    Incredible! I wonder if “teeth up” is some kind of wacky Americanization of the lock industry?
    Jose was not born in America so maybe he’s bringing some of his home culture here and applying it to our feeble American minds?
    When we were living in the Bronx we were provided “the best lock ever” and it the key had dimples, not teeth and you could put the key in upside down or downside up — didn’t matter! The key was huge, though and it had a giant plastic “handle” that always dug into your pocket. I wish I could remember the brand name…

  13. I am not sure if Jose is implementing some ‘home touch’ but I surely know the frustration! 😀
    How would you feel if your next door neighbor sees you ‘locked’ in the same position struggling and concentrating over the door lock as he saw you 15 minutes earlier?
    Yes, exactly, dumb. That too of a boutique collection!
    I even started questioning my own ability while figuring out the mechanism – “what am I doing here if I can’t even open my own apartment door?”

  14. Ahhhh, I remember with longing the days of the “old fashioned” type keys where there was an actual keyhole to insert the key into instead of these thin Yale Lock type keys of todays world.
    When I was staying with my friend in Ireland before flying out to Canada, his apartment building had implemented a different kind of security for the front foyer door. Instead of keys, we had a swipe card. I’d LOVE to use one of those again. It was a great novelty to me at the time, and I must confess that using one of those made me feel a little more important heh. For the first three weeks, it was totally the highlight of my day 😀

  15. David, that’s why you are you!
    I understand my neighbor’s skepticism about helping a foreigner; he didn’t know how I was going to react.
    I remember, my apartment and storage keys looked almost identical, I tried both of them – took a while to realize the mechanism was completely different.

  16. Hi Dawn!
    I remember those great old locks, too! My grandfather’s house had doors with skeleton keys. You could peek through the lock to see inside the room!
    I agree swipe cards — proximity cards are even better because you can keep them in your pocket and they still work — are wonderful technology!

  17. Hi Katha —
    What’s the danger in asking someone if they need help? They’ll either accept your offer or decline out of anger or embarrassment.
    You’re right about keys looking the same. Some people go as far as color-coding them to keep them straight. Then you only need to remember a color instead of a key’s profile.

  18. David,
    I guess there are a few things that work in such cases in general –
    There is a tendency to take any kind of rejection personally.
    People don’t want to interfere in others’ business, because it’s not their problem – why bother?
    If I ask someone whether he/she needs help it means I am assuming he/she is weak…

  19. David! I didn’t say I assume people who need help are weak!
    I was talking about the general conception. This was one of my experiences. I asked one of my classmates once if she would like me to help and I immediately sensed her annoyance. Later she told me she thought I was seeing her as a wimp!

  20. I was not weak, I was just confused…
    And, any help any time is welcome to me – I offer it too, whenever I can.

  21. im a know street lock picker i feel as though upside locks are the easest to pick also gravity helps the pins fall in place

  22. I lived in Croatia and Germany before I moved to the US. The key locks over there are all with the teeth down as long as I can recall. But then I got to the US where most of the key locks are with the teeth up.
    I always wondered what the difference is and which method is better…

  23. I’m from Slovenia and for as long as i know – all of our locks (everywhere) are opened with the key teeth down. Same goes for Germany, Austria, … there have been some black sheeps and have been “upside down” from the system i know.
    Now i live in Spain and dont have any clue what’s the “standard” here … i’ve even seen opposite locks on the same door. Spanish people are crazy over locks – use too many (8 per door) … extra bolts on the door. I had a apartment the main door looked like a safe door with the bolts. On the other side of the building you can enter in the apartment through a balcony door with a butter knife… it sucks.

  24. I appreciate that international insight. It makes one wonder about the cultural memes for security and “locking things up” and how those values change based on upbringing and national conscience.

  25. I was on a tour in New Orleans recently, and it was a superstition that caused people to start turning their keyholes/locks upside down to keep out evil. Maybe that is where he gets it from.

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