Losing your only key can be inconvenient and costly in terms of both time and money. However, by making the effort to create a backup key, you can save yourself from unexpected and inconvenient circumstances.
This post will go over several methods for copying your key. We'll start with some inexpensive and easily accessible services that you're likely to discover locally. Then we'll get into some inventive approaches for manually copying your key utilizing things you probably already have at home.
For all of the techniques listed below, you'll need an original key to copy. If you don't have your original key, proceed to the following section of the guide for instructions.
1. Key Copy Kiosks
If you want to make a quick, cheap, and easy copy of your key, consider visiting a key copying kiosk.
Key duplicating devices are self-service kiosks that do not require interaction with a locksmith or any other staff. They function by scanning your key with a laser to determine the type of key and the depth of the incisions. They then cut an exact copy in seconds.
These machines can copy most home and padlock keys, as well as car keys and RFID key cards/chips. All you need is your original key and a credit card to pay.
However, each kiosk brand provides different types of keys and services, so you'll need to investigate the kiosk near you to see what they have to offer. More complicated keys can occasionally be scanned in the booth, programmed elsewhere, and shipped to you.
Key kiosks are useful since they allow you to select from a variety of key designs. Decorative keys depicting cats, flowers, or even your favorite sports team are available. Keys for different locks can even be color-coded!
So, if you need a quick key and don't want to deal with any bother, key kiosks are worth a look. I've used these hundreds of times and have yet to have a key not work.
If you need a key duplicate, there is no better alternative than contacting the grand wizard of locks and keys—the locksmith!
There is a widespread idea that locksmiths are a pricey service—and in some cases, they are.
However, key duplication is not one of those services, and many locksmiths can provide you with high-quality reproductions of practically any key you require at a moderate cost.
Pro Tip: If you need a new car key, bring it to a locksmith rather than a dealership. You'll save a TON of money.
If you no longer have the original key to replicate, you'll need to contact a locksmith. A locksmith can decode the bitting of your lock and cut you a new key per specifications, albeit this is a more expensive service.
A locksmith can also assist you to improve the security of your doors and locks while you're at it!
There are also methods for manually copying your key without the use of third-party services such as kiosks or locksmiths.
Before we get started, it's vital to note that, short of purchasing your own key cutting equipment, homemade keys rarely outperform professionally cut keys. They are also more prone to breakage.
However, a broken key is always preferable than no key at all, therefore let's look at three terrific methods for replicating a key yourself.
The initial do-it-yourself key copying approach is to file down a blank key to match your existing key.
This is a simple approach that takes simply a vice, a file, and a key blank that fits your individual lock. If you use a key blank from the wrong type or brand of lock, the key will most likely not even enter the keyway.
Please keep in mind that this method only works with pin tumbler lock keys and will not let you replicate keys for most other types of locks or keys for higher-security locks, such as dimple locks or pin tumbler locks with sidebars.
A key blank for your specific lock can be found at:
A local hardware store or retail stores like Home Depot or Ace
A local locksmith
When it comes to the file, you should use a pippin (cheap) file, a Dremel (expensive), or a triangular file (cheaper). Most little files, though, will most likely work with a little improvisation.
Follow these three steps to copy a key with a file.
Align both keys side-by-side and clamp them in a vise or vise-grip
Begin filing away at your blank while using your original key as a guide
When your filed key is done, insert it into the lock and test it
If your key no longer works, realign it with the key and double-check that you didn't miss anything or misalign it while grinding. If the key does not fit into the lock at all, look for slag or chunks of metal protruding from the key's side.
If this isn't the case, you may have used the incorrect key blank. Check that your key blank exactly matches your original.
Another method for making a quick and dirty key by hand is to trace your key onto another material and cut it out.
This isn't a long-term solution by any means, but it works nicely as a rapid backup.
You'll need a robust substance for your cloned key that won't break in the lock to utilize this procedure. Soda cans, old credit cards, hotel keys, and even metal objects like butter knives, provided you have a file, are common supplies.
To outline and replicate a key, you'll need transparent packaging tape, pliers, your original key, a cutting tool, and some material for your replacement key.
Follow these procedures to outline and copy a key:
Cut a strip of clear packing tape that is bigger than the key you want to copy.
Grab the head of your original key with some pliers and use a lighter to heat one side until it turns black (soot buildup).
Let the key cool, and then place the black side onto the tape and press firmly
Remove the tape, and a black imprint of the key should remain.
Place the tape on the material you wish to make a key from and cut around the imprint. Be as precise as possible.
Carefully test your new key.
Don't force anything if you're using a fragile material (like a gift card). Breaking off a piece of your lock is probably not something you want to deal with.
If you want to be super-spy and duplicate your key, you can always make a cast of it and manufacture a clone!
This process is far more difficult and time-consuming than simply ordering a copy. However, if you have an odd key for which you cannot find a blank, or if you simply want to have some fun without regard for expense or effort, this process will provide you with a highly accurate and functioning duplicate!
Casted keys, however, are not as robust as normally cut keys. While they may function, don't expect them to survive indefinitely.
To make a clay key, you'll need:
A key to copy
Lighter or torch
To make your mold, you should ideally utilize clay. Molds can also be made from Plaster of Paris, a bar of soap, or even bubble gum.
Zinc, copper, aluminum, or steel are the best materials for casting your key.
If you've lost your only key, you won't be able to generate a straight duplicate using any of the techniques listed above.
However, this does not imply that all is lost! There are some good solutions available depending on your situation.Call a Locksmith
Calling a locksmith may be a slightly more expensive choice than the ones listed below; nonetheless, it is the simplest and most dependable approach to take.
However, if you have locked yourself out and have no other way of getting in, a locksmith is your only true non-destructive choice other than manually manipulating the lock (which we will explain next).
When they arrive, you can discuss your alternatives, but the most cost-effective solutions will likely be to replace the lock or have it rekeyed.
Call Dokey Locksmith Services if ever you need any help with your key. Dont't hesitate to call us, trust your key with Dokey!