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The Canal Lock

Leonardo da Vinci’s Canal Lock

Leonardo da Vinci’s Invention for the canal lock was one of his most enduring achievements. The lock he invented – the miter lock, is still in use today at almost any canal or waterway you visit.

His original drawing is shown below –

Leonardo's invention for the miter lock

Leonardo's invention for the miter lock

This is one of his inventions that was immediately taken into his local surroundings and it slowly spread worldwide over the course of a couple of centuries. The locks it replaced were inefficient, cumbersome and very heavy. Usually it took either one man working very hard or two men sharing the load to lift one of the old locks against the force of gravity. Leonardo’s design was more efficient, easier to move and did its job exactly as intended.

As the name implies Leonardo’s miter lock was mitered, that is, two 45 degree angles meeting each other at a point. When the oncoming water hit them it forced the two miters into each other which resulted in an even tighter seal between them.

Below is a video showing the difference between Leonardo’s miter lock and the portullis lock which it replaced, it also shows some modern day examples of Leonardo’s lock –

The canal lock is just one more example of how revolutionary Leonardo was, and another example of an invention of his that has survived the test of time long after its inventor, therefore almost making the man himself immortal.