How to Add a Lock to a Filing Cabinet

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You can add a lock to your filing cabinet.
Image Credit: TommL/iStock/GettyImages

Whether it's a small business looking for better security for documentation or homeowners protecting their privacy at home, installing a lock on a filing cabinet isn't complicated. In fact, you'll be done inside of 10 minutes. There are a few ways to secure a filing cabinet, but locksmiths agree that the easiest and best solution is to install a file locking bar.

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Why File Locking Bars Work

If you have a broken existing lock on your filing cabinet, you can try replacing an existing lock. Without one, a file locking bar can lock down as many drawers as you want. The installation will take the same amount of time either way, and the end result is a locksmith-approved level of security recommended for nearly any organization. The most locksmith-recommended file locking bars come from ABUS, a company known for locks, especially bike locks.

The steel bar is designed to fold over the front like a latch, preventing any or all drawers from opening. It's secured by your choice of padlock, so invest in a quality lock. Another favorite of locksmiths is the ABUS 83/45 series of padlocks, which has a hardened steel shackle and can be conveniently rekeyed to match your house or business key.

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Inside, another bar mechanism slides up or down, locking the entire bar into place over its mounted hinges. There's a small lever you install that raises to open the locking bar for file access. With its 16-gauge steel bar being reversible for both left- and right-side mounting, the locking bar is the most versatile and secure option for most situations. Though the file locking bar is top notch for security, it leaves some aesthetics to be desired, but maybe updating your filing cabinet is an option.

Get Ready for Installation

The locking bar ships with the appropriate-size drill bit (3/32) as well as bags of wood and metal screws. Set these aside for later installation. You'll need a drill, a screwdriver, and a marker.

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Remember that locking bars are removable and reversible, so you can always change which side it's on. For now, put it on the side that's most convenient, without any obstruction within an inch of the filing cabinet since the bar needs to be opened outwardly for the drawers to pull out. (You can, however, have two cabinets side by side, as the bar is designed to open on a 90-degree angle between two drawers.)

How to Install a File Locking Bar

The hinges should be on the same side of the cabinet on which you install the locking bar. Once you've decided, you can get started.

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Step 1: Install the Locking Lever in the Bar

Hold up the bar so the three holes show through the center opening where the handle gets installed. Place the black lever/handle into these holes, turn the bar over, and attach the handle with a large screw using a screwdriver. The lever should lift up when installed on your chosen side of the cabinet.

Step 2: Position the Bar Against the Cabinet

The outside of the bar should run flush down the outside of the cabinet so that the bar can open without obstruction. Use a pencil or marker to mark the top hole of the bar, where you'll install the first screw. Set the bar aside; it's time to drill.

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Step 3: Drill the Holes

Using the included drill bit, drill the first hole into the cabinet. Once you are finished, grab your screwdriver and mount the locking bar with a screw. Don't sink it in tight yet; you'll need to line up the bottom first. Do that now by repeating step two for the bottom hole and loosely affix it with another screw.

Step 4: Secure the Locking Bar

Is everything looking great now that the top and bottom anchor screws are positioned? If so, it's time to snugly tighten the screws. Now, install the rest of the screws. Simply drill through the positioned hinges where the screw holes are indicated and install screws accordingly.

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Using the File Locking Bar

To lock the cabinet for the first time, raise the black handle, close the file bar, and then lower the black handle. It will be secured in place.

At the top, loop your chosen padlock through the bar and lock it to prevent the black handle from being able to be raised. To open it, remove the padlock, raise the black handle, and lift the bar out 90 degrees.

If you've never considered a locking bar for file security and you now like the idea, you can always drill out an existing filing cabinet lock to make the switch to a heavier-duty solution, like the locking bar.

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references

Steffani Cameron is the daughter of a realtor and interior decorator mother and a home contractor father. Steffani is a professional writer with over five years' experience writing about the home for BuildDirect and Bob Vila. Raised with a mad love for decorating, Steffani gave up her Art Deco apartment to travel and work remotely for five years. She's in love with experiencing traditional decor around the world, including stays in Thai teak plantations on the Mekong River and cave homes in Turkey.

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