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Types of Drawer Locks Used in Custom Closet Systems

Cam Locks Versus StealthLocks® for Closet Drawer Security

Custom closet systems frequently include built in drawer units in adition to hanging rods and shelves. Often, these drawers are equipped with locks to secure jewelry, watches or other valuable items stored in the closet. The types of locks typically used in closet drawers include cam locks and electronic hidden locks — a radio frequency controlled locking mechanism that can lock and unlock a door similar to how a car key fob works. Both types of locks provide a level of security to discourage theft. But which type to choose? Each has its own advantages and the best type to use will depend on your own situation and personal preferences.


Cam locks are simple locks that use a key to open or close the lock. Cam locks consist of a base and a cam, the base being the part into which the key is inserted and the cam being the tail part that acts as the latch. The cam is a locking lever that can be used to secure doors, lockers, safety boxes, windows, cabinets, drawers, file cabinets and many other items. The cam rotates between 90 to 180 degrees, locking and unlocking. Cam locks are commonly used in offices where clients or customers personal information is being held. For instance, file cabinets and desk drawers operate with cam locks. It is a basic lock that is very simple to use — making it appealing for users. The cam lock is a simple device that provides easy extra security for valuable items and personal information. It is not a high security lock, but more of an impediment to easy theft.

Cam locks are made to accommodate a variety of installation situations, and different versions can be used in material from 7/8 inches to 1-3/8 inches thick. The most common closet drawer lock for 3/4 inch material — the type of furniture grade laminate used by Closet Works — is the CB-185. Manufactured by CompX Timberline, it is a single cylinder high quality cam lock designed specifically for the wood furniture and cabinet industries. The CB-185 is a single bitted lock that features a removable core for easy replacement and can be keyed alike or differently. It mounts mount easily and securely in 3/4 inch material with two screws. It consists of two separate components: a Lock Plug, and a Cylinder Body. The different cylinder bodies allow for different keys. The offset cams have a setback of 15/32 inches. It locks in the counter-clockwise position. Benefits of this lock include: small diameter; high quality/long life; solid brass keys; coded on face & keys; master-keyed standard; removable lock plug.

Closet Works CB-185 cam drawer lock from CompX Timberline
CB-185 Cam Lock from CompX Timberline used on Closet Works drawers and cabinets


StealthLock® is an innovative keyless cabinet lock operated by radio frequency technology, electrically controlling cabinet doors and drawers. It works on the same principle as a key fob for a car. The lock operates in passage or cycle modes, and is released with an RF controlled key pad transmitter. It is user programmable with optional modes of operation. Self-Lock Mode allows the user to program the receiver latch to automatically re-lock 10 seconds after unlocking. With the Passage/Manual Lock Mode, user must manually lock. Single Use Mode allows the user to choose their code at time of operation. Single Use Mode is recommended for shared or day use lockers or cabinets. It uses a battery operated transmitter that operates within 15 feet of the receiver latch. A single transmitter can be set to open multiple drawers/locks and there is no limit to the number of drawer locks it can open.

StealthLock® is a hidden lock, and from the outward appearance of the cabinet or drawer, the unit is invisible. It is perfect for closet systems, due to the material used for closet construction. It is not recommended for metal cabinets or files. Overall, the StealthLock is more secure than a traditional cam lock. The user programmable codes work like a password, ensuring that every lock opens with a different code. The lock includes a steel strike plate, furthering the security of the lock. The transmitter pad uses a CR2032 coin battery, and the receiver latch uses four AAA batteries. The downside is similar to that of a closet safe. If you let the batteries go dead, you will have to break into the cabinet and force the drawer open, possibly causing damage to your drawer and closet system. It is best to remember to change the batteries when they are low. Luckily, the lock is set up to help the owner to that end. The transmitter pad counts the number of times the transmitter pad is activated. At 5500 activations, the green light on the transmitter pad blinks continuously. Batteries need to be changed in both the transmitter pad and receiver latches. It's recommended to change batteries every year.

Closet Works radio controlled StealthLock from CompX Timberline
StealthLock® from CompX Timberline used on Closet Works drawers

Overall, closet drawer locks provide an additional level of security to your home, especially for storing jewelry. They are not intended to replace a full home security system or a safe.

Closet drawer locks and cabinet locks should be thought of as a deterrent to theft, rather than full prevention. They add an additional level of defense and peace of mind to the other security measures installed in the home. They can keep sticky fingers out and even prevent unauthorized borrowing of valuables. However, they are installed in drawers made of wood or wood product materials. A dedicated thief will take the time to cut around and break the lock to gain access. Extremely valuable items should be kept in a safe.