TOOL ~ What, Who, and Where We Are Going

4-Key Iron Puzzle Lock

An Art of Design

Locksmithing is a profession and an art of designing and producing locks and other protective hardware mechanisms that secures buildings, objects, storage facilities, cabinets, rooms and other places. After a long journey through history, the art of Locksmithing went through many changes. For the longest period of time, locksmiths were talented metalworkers who had the knowledge of shaping metal, creating by hand dozens of individual pieces of the locks, forging keys, and doing much of the file-work. 

Dating Back to Ancient History

History of locksmithing started in Ancient Egypt and Babylon, approximately 4000 years ago. During that time, locksmith created wooden devices that used tin tumbler principle to prevent free movement of the door bar. The pins could be moved only with the use of large and cumbersome wooden key (created in the shape of modern toothbrush) that was inserted into lock and pushed upwards, which moved internal pins and unlocked doors. The oldest of those simple locks currently known was discovered in the ruins of the Assyrian Empire, in the city of Khorsabad near Nineveh. Scientists and historians agree that this wooden lock was created around 704 BC. 

Mass Production Means Drastic Change

After the adoption of advanced metallurgy in 18th century Europe, locksmiths were finally able to create much more durable locks and keys. During that century, many famous locksmiths managed to improve upon designs that remained largely unchanged ever since the fall of Roman Empire. With the arrival of more and more successful designs and industrial mass production, locksmithing went through drastic change. Cheap industrial locks took the lucrative market of locksmiths away, and they were forced to become specialized in two fields –work as repairmen of industrial locks (fine tuning of damaged gear or replacing broken parts with those created in factories), replicate keys for people who wanted more of them available for personal use, or work for large security companies who design and build safes for banks and governments. 

Today's Locksmiths

Today, locksmiths work from their shops (often working with all door-related hardware, such as closers, frame repairs, hinges, electric strikes and more), security institutions (designing and creating several layers of locks that protect against theft or intrusion), investigational institutions (forensic locksmiths), security consultants or are focuses on one aspect of a skill (locksmith working in a car company, designing only car locks). 

TOOL ~ Who We Are


TOOL was founded in 1994 for the purpose of promoting cooperation among locksmiths throughout the state. Since its inception, TOOL has been the leading force within the state in the areas of education and legislation. It is our goal to promote the highest levels of professionalism within the industry and to provide protection to the consumer.

TOOL continues to lead in the areas of education and legislation. TOOL proudly achieved its biggest feat to date in 2006 with the passage of the "Tennessee Locksmith Licensing Act of 2006." Later, in the 2010 legislative session, TOOL, with the cooperation of the other Tennessee locksmith associations, was able to persuade the General Assembly to incorporate a criminal penalty into the existing code to help with tougher enforcement. 


Keep Learning With Continuing Education

TOOL offers continuing education in all aspects of the locksmith industry. Along with our regular board meetings, we offer an outstanding variety of classes from Basic Lock Servicing to Safe Manipulation and more.  

 TOOL works diligently to provide classes and state approved instructors to meet continuing education requirement set forth by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.