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Best Combination Locks for School Lockers

Updated on July 13, 2016
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TR Smith is a product designer and former teacher who uses math in her work every day.

Getting a locker for the first time is an exciting part of starting junior high or high school. No longer do you have to carry everything with you from class to class, between home and school. To keep your books, backpack, coat, lunch and other belongings secure, most students lock their locker door with a combination lock. Combination locks are convenient because they don't require a key, just a simple number of set of numbers to memorize. If you can memorize phone numbers and your class schedule, you can easily memorize a combination.

The most popular style of combination lock is the dial lock, but there are many other kinds of combo locks that are just as good for locking up a school locker.

Typical dial combination lock available at any department or hardware store.

Dial Combination Lock

Master Lock is the most common brand of dial combination lock.Typically, the numbers on the dial range from 0 to 39. To open the lock you dial the first number going clockwise, then you make at least one full rotation counter-clockwise to land on the second number, and finally you turn clockwise again to land on the third number. Some dial combination locks have key control, so if you forget the combination you can still open the lock through the keyhole on the back. An advantage is that since the numbers are set at the factory, they are pretty random and difficult to guess.

One caveat of these locks is that a lock pick can narrow down the list of possible combinations by carefully examining the lock, if she knows what to look for. These locks can also be picked with shims by anyone who has practiced enough. However, these methods take time and most likely a thief would be caught in the act before he could get the lock open.

Resettable Word Lock

Resettable combinations locks are great for people who have trouble memorizing pre-set combinations, and for people who want the extra security of changing the lock combination once in while. Word locks are even better for some people who find words and letters easier to memorize than numbers.

When choosing a word lock for a school locker, look for locks that are sturdy and made of more metal than plastic. Also choose a lock that cannot be reset without knowing the correct password. That way, if someone does manage to pick the lock without knowing the combination, they cannot reset it to something else!

Choosing a good password for your lock means avoiding words that are easy for others to guess. "KATE" (if your name is Kate), "LOCK," and your favorite four-letter swear words are easy to memorize, but also among the first words a lock pick would try. Use acronyms and abbreviations instead. Or better yet, choose a random sequence of letters that has no meaning. If there are 4 dials and each dial has 10 letters, you have 10,000 combinations to choose from. And if there are 5 dials, you have 100,000 different combinations at your disposal.

Resettable 4-Digit Padlock

Resettable 4-digit combination locks are popular for securing storage sheds and lockers outside of school, but there's no reason not to use one on a school locker as well. Many people find it easier to memorize a 4-digit number of their choosing, rather than a 3-number combination issued by the lock manufacturer. When choosing a 4-digit number, it's vital that you pick something that's hard for others to guess.

For example, your birth day and month, birth year, street address, and the last four digits of your telephone number are insecure combos for locks (not to mention, insecure choices for 4-digit PINs). It's also a bad idea to choose sequences like 1111, 1234, 7777, etc. With 10,000 different numbers to choose from, you should be able to find something that's secure but hard to forget.

It's always a good idea to reset the combination once in a while, especially if you gave the locker combination to a friend who temporarily needed your space. These locks can be reset with a small key only when the lock has been opened by the correct combination.

More School Supplies

If you're taking calculus, pre-calculus, or AP stats, don't forget to buy a graphing calculator.


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