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What Is A Cam Latch Lock? How Do They Work?

In any establishment, locks are essential. Not only do they provide security and safety to its residents but it also maintains privacy and keeps everything secured. Locks act as a barrier to ensure that your establishment or facility is safe as it can possibly be.

One essential locking mechanism that can make a big difference in your cabinets, lockers, desks, filing cabinets, and drawers are cam latch locks. These locking mechanisms offer several advantages that can be tailored to fit your needs and preferences. Not only does it ensure that your enclosures are secure and safe, they are also extremely resistant to dust and water, fairly easy to install, and blend well with most of your furnishings.

In this article we will take a closer look at:

1. What are 90 Degree Draw Latches?
2. Benefits of 90 Degree Draw Latches
3. Common 90 Degree Draw Latch Materials
4. Summary

What is a cam latch lock?

While some enclosures can be secured using a basic latch, those who have access points utilize cam locks lathes. A cam latch lock is a simple, robust, cylindrical locking mechanism that is utilized to attain the securing of access to entry points and panels. It is made up of a latch and a body that rotates when actuated to release or secure. They are an important hardware feature of cabinets and drawers as they secure doors and provide a sturdy and reliable closure. Cam latch locks enable these enclosures to be secured together without compromising their outward appearance. Most of these locking mechanisms are oftentimes not visible to the naked eye, making them appealing to modern consumers.

In addition, there are several benefits to using cam latch locks. Aside from the most prominent advantage which is security, cam latch locks are relatively easy to install, highly resistant to external elements, and come in various styles and designs. Most of these cam locks are operated with a pin or key, or with a manual turn. Cam latch locks are also available in a variety of styles and sizes. Based on your needs and preferences, you can choose from cam latches that are made up or designed with zinc-plated steel, chrome finish, black powder finish, stainless steel, black powder coat, heavy duty electronic cam lock, zinc, die cast zinc, key-locking, non-locking, locking cam latch, quarter-turn latch, swing-handles, surface mount, spring loaded, quick release grip or adjustable grip, and stainless steel with fasteners.

How does a cam latch lock work?

Cam latches are regarded as one of the most popular cabinet latch hardware. While they are commonly associated with drawers and cabinets, they are also frequently found in various industry applications. Cam latches are used in metal furniture, medical office furniture, wooden furniture, tool lockers, machine access panels, equipment cabinets, mailboxes, lockers, and in some automobiles. They are also sometimes found in old windows and school lockers.

These locking mechanisms are also often referred to as quarter-turn latches since they use a knob, handle, or a key to secure the frame panel. Compression latches are to some extent similar to cam latches since they latch in a quarter turn. Cam latch locks work by turning the base with a key, enabling the surfaces or doors to close. They secure the enclosure by blocking one side, which means cam latches do not work with doors that go beyond the frame. Cam latch locks usually rotate between 90 and 180 degrees, and can be utilized to secure several access points. Cam latches are also available in different mountings. Some of the options include knobs, concealed, and wings. There are also cam latches that come with a T-handle with a stainless steel cam lock, and quarter turn cam latches.

Common 90 Degree Draw Latch Materials

While you’re familiarizing yourself with door latches, hasp locks, toggle latches, lock latches, compression latches, and more, you can also be learning about the different materials that the most common 90 degree draw latches feature.

How they function and the industries in which they are the most useful depend on whether they are made of stainless steel, zinc alloy, plastic, or rubber.

Industries that require a high level of strength generally rely on the robustness and corrosion resistance of stainless steel. Stainless steel latches from leading manufacturers like Southco typically withstand a considerable amount of wear and tear.

However, if you require flexibility, you may opt for rubber and plastic latches. They are not generally as secure or strong, but they allow for an easier fit on corners and hinges for some applications. Some are also known to be zinc plated for extra strength or made of zinc alloy.

Benefits of a cam latch lock

Cam latch locks offer its users a variety of benefits. Some of the advantages of using this versatile mechanism include:

  1. Easy installation: One of the biggest benefits of investing in cam locks is that they are simple to install. While some may think that these mechanisms are highly complicated and technical, they are relatively easy to use. You don’t need to be a technical literate or use special assembly tools in order to set them up as the installation process is extremely basic and simple.
  2. Resistant to dust and water: Due to its rotating and cylindrical technology, cam latch locks are highly resistant to destructive elements such as water and dust. If you are using the application or furnishings outdoors, then you don’t need to worry about the locks freezing or deteriorating. The last thing you want is your furnishings getting destroyed by external factors just because of poor hardware equipment. 
  3. Secure: Security is one of the most appealing benefits of a cam lock. They may be made from several different materials but cam locks are notoriously hard to pick. Investing in cam locks is a great way to ensure that your valuables are safely secured in your drawer, cabinet or in any other essential enclosures. In addition, since cam locks are available in various sizes and opened using several types of keys, they can be used to secure several different items. There are also cam latch locks that are heavy duty and electronically configured. So if you want cam lock with a higher level of security and efficacy, you can go for these types of locking mechanisms.
  4. Comes in various styles: Compared to traditional locks, cam latch locks are available in various styles, sizes and shapes. They can complement your furnishings without compromising their efficiency. Large cam latch locks tend to be more secure and are often used in high security applications, while smaller ones are used in small furnishings in places with limited spaces. They also come in different materials and types such as zinc, stainless steel, chrome finish, chrome plated, black powder finish, die cast zinc, zinc plated, and black powder coat, zinc alloy, adjustable lever, zinc-plated steel, non-locking, key locking, without cam, heavy duty electronic cam lock, and self-adjusting compression latch. 
  5. Can be used in several applications: These versatile locking mechanisms are used by several applications in various industries. They are often found in wooden furniture, lockers, doors, windows, industrial enclosures, medical office furniture, automotive applications, mail boxes, and metal furniture. They are also frequently used in gaming machines, pay phones, cash dispensers, vending machines, parking meters, and in some laundry machines. You don’t need to worry about your drawers, filing cabinets, desks, storage units, gym lockers, and other essential enclosures getting destroyed or violated as most of the cam latch locks available in the market are highly pick resistant. 

Some other variations that are available in the market include:

  • T-handle cam latch: A cam latch lock with a T-handle works well for metal doors and electrical panels since this type of latch closes and opens easily with a quick quarter-turn motion. You can also get an adjustable T-handle with compression, or a compression lock T-handle.
  • Quarter-turn cam latch: Quarter turn cam latches are relatively simple to operate. These locking mechanisms are often used in electronics, aerospace, cabinet constructions, medical, and telecommunications.

4 Steps to choosing the right cam latch lock

To ensure that you select the best cam latch lock for your application, here are some important steps you need to follow.

Select your installation cut out

The first step is to choose your installation cut out. It is important that you are aware of the dimension of your installation to ensure the mechanism’s efficiency. In addition, you should also know the thickness of your panel before purchasing your cam latch lock.


Choose your material, finish, handle material, color, and body style

After selecting your installation cut out, the next step is to pick your material, finish, handle material, color, and body style. You can choose from a variety of options, including black powder finish, black polyamide, black powder coated, clear-zinc coated, polyamide plastics, stainless steel, chrome-plated to chrome finish, steel, zinc alloy, chrome, black, steel, powder-coated, black-coated with fasteners or adjustable lever, zinc plated, locking cam latch, spring loaded, stainless steel with fasteners, surface mount, swing-handles, adjustable grip or quick-release grip, key-locking or non-locking, zinc plated steel, die cast zinc, polyamide nylon, die cast zinc alloy, 304 stainless steel, 316 stainless steel, die cast zinc-black powder coat, and black nylon.

While you might be overwhelmed with the array of options available, it is important that you select the one that suits your needs and preferences.


Select your locking key

Once you are finished with step one and two, then you can now choose your lock key. Cam latch locks are operated using several key options. You can use:

  • Rounded keys
  • Tubular keys
  • Flat keys
  • Cylinder lock
  • Standard insert
  • Combination locks

Keep in mind that tubular keys sometimes need to be pressed, while flat keys are usually turned to rotate the cam.


Consider the different accessories

There are also several accessories that you can use together with a cam lock. Some options available in the market include finger pull, dust cap, multi point latching, timber spur washing, protective collar, spacer washers, locating plate, wooden washer, nylon washer, fasteners, fixings, spacers, and adapters.


If you want to ensure that your valuables and other belongings are secured, it is essential that you are familiar with the different aspects or features of your enclosures. It is highly possible that you are already using cam latch locks in your cabinets, drawers, and other applications without knowing how useful they are. However, if you want to make sure that these locking mechanisms are composed of high-quality materials, it is important that you find a reliable and trusted provider or industrial components such as Reid Supply.

Reid Supply has been in the business since 1948, offering a wide array of high-quality industrial components. We’re always on the lookout for innovative new products that can resolve our clients’ problems. As one of the most preferred distributors in the industry, we have partnered with over 200 leading brands to ensure we can give you the perfect solution to your specifications or applications. You can choose from more than 40,000 quality industrial components, and they can also find several hard-to-source products for you.

The cam latches that Reid Supply offers are made from durable, reliable and high-quality materials. They come in different colors, finish, brand and handle materials. You can either choose from three colors: black, natural, and chrome. In regards to finish, we have an extensive collection to choose from such as black polyamide, clear-zinc coated, chrome-plated, black powder-coated, chrome, black, steel, stainless steel, powder-coated, and black-coated.

As for the handle material, you can choose from polyamide nylon, die cast zinc alloy, 304 stainless steel, 316 stainless steel, chrome, die cast zinc-black powder coat, black polyamide, and black nylon. Make sure that you choose the one based on your needs and preferences to ensure that it will work perfectly with your enclosure or application.

If you have any questions or need assistance with our selection, you can visit Reid Supply’s website or
call us today to get a comprehensive catalog of our products.