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Cabinet Locks: Magnets, RFID, Smart Locks and More for Security

Updated: September 11, 2022
Securely locking cabinets and drawers used to require a key. But with the digital age there are keyless, magnetic and other smart locks to securely keep your contents guarded. Learn what is best for your project and budget in this guide.
Cabinet Door Locks With Key
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Cabinet Locks: Magnets, RFID, Smart Locks and More for Security

With cabinet lock options that range from a key to Alexa enabled smart locks there are plenty of ways to secure what’s inside your cabinet.

But choosing which cabinet lock is best comes down to:

  1. How frequently you will use the door
  2. Your skills
  3. Type of cabinet
  4. Contents such as liquor, pharmacy or other dangerous items
  5. Ability to drill or alter the cabinet
  6. And of course, your budget.

While a Siri-enabled smart lock is easily the most technologically advanced solution it is also the most costly. However, other locks require drilling holes in the face of the cabinet. In this guide learn what the best cabinet locks are for your doors and drawers, where to buy them and how tools you’ll need to install them.

Top Picks

Smart lock for liquor or pharmacy:

Best magnetic for multiple doors:

RFID Lock:

External strap locks:

Traditional key lock:

Last updated on 2023-01-26 at 19:42 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

Features to Consider

While typically easier to install than a cabinet hinge, handle or knob a cabinet lock may require some basic installation steps:

  • Make sure your lock will fit your cabinet style – which is either frameless or face fame. 
  • Frameless cabinet locks are generally easiest to install
  • Meanwhile face frame cabinet locks may require attaching the lock to a backing block 
  • For multiple doors consider buying a number of the same brand and style so you can use one key
  • And for RFID locks most can be re-programmed to have one card open multiple locks
  • Drawers can be locked and most locks simply require installation on the top edge of the drawer versus the side

TYpes of Locks

With recent innovations you’ll find both old standard keys and magnets as well as now RFID and even WIFI equipped locks:

  • Keyed locks go back centuries and are inexpensive
  • Magnetic cam locks use a simple magnetic force to release an internal pin
  • RFID use a coded radio frequency to release the lock mechanism
  • Latch locks typically fit behind a drawer or door and the user pushes the latch free of the catch
  • Adhesive strap locks can be used on the exterior of a cabinet and do not require drilling into the wood
  • Handle locks use two door handles as a way to prevent the door from being opened

Smart Lock For Liquor or Medicine Cabinets

Yale Smart Lock

Bluetooth, Smart Device Enabled

Rather than just prevent a cabinet from opening, use a Bluetooth enabled device that can also track WHEN a cabinet is opened. Great for highly sensitive storage.

Top Features

  1. Easy to install
  2. Works on frameless and face frame cabinets
  3. Auto re-lock function to lock after opening
  4. Open with Yale app on phone or a voice assistant

Overview

As a step-up from the still high-tech RFID locks, a smart lock lets you do more than just keep a cabinet locked. It lets you control the lock from anywhere (accessories required) and track the usage.

Concerned someone accesses the cabinet without your knowledge? Just track the history.

Worried you won’t have your phone with you and need access? Just connect the lock to your Apple HomeKit compatible system (eg. Siri).

Pros

  • Highly secure
  • Ease of install
  • Compact
  • Can be shared access
  • No key to lose
  • Auto-locks

Cons

  • Price for multiple cabinets

Best for Multiple Doors

Magnetic Cabinet Lock

Discreet, Multiple Cabinet Solution

As an upgrade to the lever-style locks that make you search and push a lever to free the door, a magnetic lock lets you quickly free the door without pinching fingers.

Top Features

  1. Simple installation
  2. Works on almost all style of doors and drawers
  3. No screws – leverages 3M adhesive
  4. Invisible to outside of door
  5. Easy to remove

Overview

An adhesive magnetic cabinet lock is arguably the easiest solution to lock a cabinet door without installing a screw.

By simply adhering to the door and inside of the cabinet a magnetic lock uses the magnet to free the catch and allow the door to open.

Don’t need the locks on all of the time? Simply flip a switch to dis-engage the lock and re-engage when security is needed.

Pros

  • No screws
  • Economical for an entire kitchen
  • Can be dis-engaged when locks aren’t needed
  • One key can operate dozens of doors
  • Hidden

Cons

  • Magnetic key may need a thin pad to prevent scratching the cabinet face over repeated use
  • Doesn’t prevent un-wanted access by adults

RFID Lock

RFID Cabinet Lock

Discreet, Secure Solution

While magnets are a great lock, they don’t prevent un-wanted adult access. An RFID lock offers both invisible protection plus a secure key that can’t be easily copied.

Top Features

  1. Secure
  2. Easy to install
  3. One key can be made for multiple doors and drawers
  4. Invisible to outside of cabinet

Overview

An RFID lock is about the closest to a standard key and lock as you can find.

By maintaining a high level of security with a RFID tag that is programmed to the base you can ensure un-wanted access is prevented. And with a technology that allows for programmable keys you can have multiple cabinets work with one key.

Or, if you prefer, keys coded to separate cabinet openings.

This option from Yale is one of many in their line of smart locks for the home.

Pros

  • Highly secure
  • Auto-opens if batteries run out
  • Programmable keys
  • Hidden from outside

Cons

  • More expensive than magnetic options
  • Batteries require changing

External Strap for Cabinets

Strap Cabinet Lock

Flexible + Adaptable

Not all cabinets are made the same, and if you can’t lock your cabinet with a traditional lock these flexible straps will simply adhere to the cabinet edge. 

Top Features

  1. Universal fit
  2. Easy to install with 3M adhesive
  3. Adjustable length
  4. Press and slide to dis-engage
  5. Fits hard-to-latch items like refrigerators and toilet seats

Overview

Not every cabinet can be locked using an invisible lock.

Which means using an exterior lock to secure the contents of the cabinet. And, while clearly visible, these simple locks are adjustable and can flex to just about any cabinet with an accessible edge.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Simple to operate
  • Can use on cabinets, toilet seats, refrigerators and more
  • Adjustable length

Cons

  • Lack security for adults
  • Visible from outside of cabinet

Traditional Keyed Lock

Keyed Cabinet Lock

Simple and Inexpensive

If security and old-fashioned simplicity is what you need, then a traditional keyed lock has been keeping cabinets secure for thousands of years.

Top Features

  1. Secure
  2. Fits most cabinet doors and drawers
  3. Available in bulk with same key

Overview

There’s not much to say about a keyed lock other than it just works.

But, it requires a hole to be drilled in the face of the cabinet and can require some alignment back-and-forth inside the cabinet. However, once installed, this mechanism provides a secure lock that prevents access by everyone except, well, the holder of the key.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Low-tech
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Visible from outside the cabinet
  • Requires drilling a hole in the cabinet drawer or door

Lock for Glass Doors

Glass Door Cabinet Lock

Easy to Use and Install

From pawn shops to jewelry stores, almost everyone has seen this style of simple glass lock. And they are simple to install and no holes required.

Top Features

  1. Secure
  2. Easy to install
  3. Fits glass up to 0.47″
  4. No need to drill a hole in glass

Overview

For sliding glass doors its challenging to drill a hole in the glass, or use a traditional cabinet lock.

The solution? Use a simple lock that grabs the edge of one piece of glass, and then uses the other to firm up a keyed lock barrel. And while visible, on a glass cabinet there aren’t too many other options.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Doesn’t require drilling glass
  • Can be bought in bulk for a single-key solution
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Requires re-assembly of barrel to lock mechanism
  • Traditional key solution

Frequently Asked Questions

Do magnetic cabinet locks work on drawers?

Yes – you can install a magnetic cabinet lock on a drawer. Most magnetic latches install directly to the face frame or edge of the frameless cabinet. The only requirement is enough height (usually on top of the drawer) to support height of the inside magnetic catch.

How do I lock my kitchen cabinets?

Kitchen cabinets can be locked by a wide variety of locks. While many child locks use exterior door or handle locks, magnetic locks, RFID and now even smart locks are viable options for cabinets.

How do I lock a liquor or medicine cabinet securely?

Similar to exterior doors that use smart locks, there are now smart locks for cabinet doors that use Bluetooth, mobile applications and even home assistants like Siri or Alexa.

  • About the Author
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( Woodworker )

Eric has been a professional woodworker for over thirty years and has worked in small cabinet shops making everything from kitchen cabinets to hand-made furniture. Now working from a home woodworking shop Eric is sharing his passion for woodworking, tool advice and how-to knowledge from his Minnesota-based woodshop.

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