People lose keys all the time. They get copies made more frequently than they lose keys. There is however a minor problem attached to that. Hardware stores and lock shops may be extremely skilled in duplicating keys but they tend to produce bad copies every once in a while. It’s most annoying, when it happens to you.
Your son is locked in his room and you rush to get a copy of a key and after a frantic dash all over town you manage get a copy and upon returning home you find out that it doesn’t work. You might have to end up breaking the door, but if you follow these 5 steps diligently, you can rest assured that every copy of a key that you get made will be a good copy.
Image Credits @ Richard
Step 1: Inspect the key and its copy in Sherlock style
On an average, a hardware store can store up to 150 types of blanks each one varying on size, grooves, nicks and cuts. When you do get a copy made, the first thing you must do is to mark which one is the original and which one is the copy. Once that is done, you must take a magnifying glass and inspect the general shape of the original key and compare it accordingly to the duplicate. Chances are you might detect a few errors or differences, but more often than not the search ends up with you feeling that it is a perfect copy. What you must then do is to place the key in the lock repeatedly and check if it enters smoothly or if it gets caught once in a while. This can help ensure that the copy is available for constant use.
Step 2: Can the key open your lock with ease and be copied as well?
The most important aspect after the key entering the lock is its ability to open the lock with its teeth which basically depends upon the depth of the teeth. If a key of a Primus lock or locks of college dorms are to be opened, it’s highly likely that the copy to such locks don’t exist. In that case, the average hardware guy or your locksmith will not be able to develop a key for it. He will be use a normal blank to try can create a duplicate but it’s almost certain that it won’t work. In these circumstances, it is a wise choice to find a new lock and break the old one rather than making a copy that will surely not open it.
Provide the key’s make and model
Each key is unique in the sense that the maker has given it a specific identity. The manufacturer gives a particular make, design method and unique model name to each key which is engraved on the head and shoulder of the key. This ensures that the right kind of blank is used rather than abiding by the normal blank which is used most often. In case the right model and make are not provided to the locksmith, he will resort to the normal blank which will mess things up for the key. Always remember to be as accurate as possible while choosing the blank.
Has the original key become worn from use?
There can be two major reasons why your lock became non-operational and thus resulted in a bad key. It both cases, wear and tear and damage and weather conditions are the leading causes of problem. On one side, the key simply does not enter your lock. And secondly, you have to jiggle it a little to put the teeth in place and open the lock. If the weather is the culprit, then a bit of oil or a lubricant can work wonders but damage and wear and tear are a lot trickier. What you will have to do is to take a mold of the inside of the lock and develop a key accordingly as it is not safe to make a copy of the original which in this case has gone bad.
In case of a broken or a bent key, the locksmith can still find you a proper replacement which will work like the original. All that he has to do is place it on a copying machine which runs along the contours of the original and runs the same shape on the duplicate.
Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy
It’s a common thing to do in most households. Take a copy of a key and give it to the hardware guy to make another one out of it. Here is where things can go wrong. It must be noted with caution that copies are never perfect. They tend to lack a very minute part of the original at all times because of the precision of the production process of keys. Every time you make a copy of a copy, you are losing out one portion from the original. It is said that after the fifth copy, the lock can no longer be opened by a copied key. So make sure you aren’t giving away a copied version to get more copies, but are rather finding versions of the original.
What has been opened, has to be closed…
Copying keys, finding key blanks making good ones, maintaining the original and preventing wear and tear can be a pain. But to ensure the worthwhile safety of the lock and the key and what lies within, one must ensure that the key is in perfect condition. These steps should have hopefully helped you understand how a copy can be done and how you can ensure that you aren’t receiving a bad copy.
Roger Thomas is an expert hardware specialist who has been in the industry for the past few decades and is well-versed in plumbing, lock and key, electrical and assembly line hardware. He also reviews various products that enter the market and also opines his advice on his blog. You can also find him suggesting some the wackiest contraptions to solve daily problems.