How Do Locksmiths Cut Keys?
It’s as they say: Locksmithing is an art. Constructing and installing locks is just one facet of the job. A locksmith can make as many locks as they want. If there are no keys to test them on, then there’s no point in proceeding with making locks. That’s why locksmiths specialize in making keys. Locksmiths can provide customers with a new set of keys for existing and replacement locks for an entire property. :
Consumers are also apt to order a set of spare keys in case the main set is lost or damaged.
In this article, we’ll talk about how locksmiths make keys, the advancements in key-making, traditional and digital keys, and why you should count on a professional locksmith for your key-making needs.
Key Cutting: The Traditional Way
How do locksmiths make keys? Key cutting is the classic and familiar route locksmiths take for key making. Replacement keys enter a machine called a key duplicator. The locksmith uses the customer’s key as a template for an uncut replacement called a blank key. Both keys are aligned horizontally on the duplicator, and the blank key’s blade is cut to resemble the original as precisely as possible. The blank becomes an exact copy of the customer’s original key, ready for replacement. Sharp edges are smoothed out with a sander, perfecting the replication process.
What if you don’t have a key and need one for a lock? Not a problem. Locksmiths can identify the key code on your locks and make a precise new fit. However, if there is no original key to make a duplicate, it would be wise to replace the lock so a new key can be properly cut.
Another way to construct a key is by taking apart the lock. A key can then be constructed based on the dimensions of the pins inside. As you might have guessed, this method involves more than following a copy or a key code.
To avoid the necessity of a key chain or reduce the need for multiple keys, locksmiths can change all the locks on your property, so they all take the same key. This can reduce key-cutting expenses should you lose or break any of them.
You might be thinking of more convenient solutions around key-cutting. “Wouldn’t it make more sense to buy new locks?” Given the complication behind replacing and fixing locks compared to simply cutting a new key, your best bet is to replace or duplicate the key unless you lost your original key without a replacement.
Advancements in Key Cutting
As precise as the process can be, it makes sense to ask how key cutting can improve beyond traditional methods. Indeed, there have been advancements. Laser-cut keys are a recent innovation in key cutting. This high-tech method was the result of increased car thefts in the 1980s. By the 1990s, premium automobiles offered laser-cut keys before making their way to everyday vehicles a few decades later.
Impressioning is another method of cutting, which involves marking a blank key with impressions of where the pins are located. The key blade is then cut in the shape of the marks.
How long does key cutting take?
Key cutting is relatively quick, taking around 25 minutes to an hour to complete. Impressioning is faster, taking as little as 10 to 15 minutes to complete. This may vary based on your locksmith service provider’s skill level, the cutting method, or the types of keys or locks you have.
Can I cut my own keys?
That depends—do you have a background in key-cutting? You can count on the professionals if you want top-of-the-line, industrial-grade key-cutting services for your home or business. Not only that, but do your research to find the best provider. They will give you a proper diagnosis of your key or lock issues. This is also a good way to avoid complicating an already complicated task, especially if the lock is jammed up with key debris. Locksmiths might also offer continual services if you remain with one.
Where can I find key cutters?
You can find key cutters anywhere, from locksmith services to tools at hardware stores that you can buy to cut keys yourself. Once again, it’s recommended that property owners choose professional locksmiths. Home key cutters are a convenient solution, but locksmiths are well-practiced in providing the latest home security needs with an industrial touch, including such provisions as lock and key replacement, warranties, additional security solutions for windows and cars, and advice.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Traditional Keys
Traditional keys come with pluses and minuses.
- Easy to make and replace
- It can be configured to all the locks in the house
- Susceptible to damage, lockpicking
- Key debris can jam up locks, requiring lock cleaning or replacement
- Can be lost, stolen, or replicated by criminals
What about digital keys?
Now that we know how traditional keys are made, we can examine how keys to digital systems are made. Digital keys use devices that are compatible with electronic, battery-operated locks. There are three types of digital keys:
- Keypads: These locks house some buttons, usually a numerical keypad, to access the property. Keypad keys are made by programming the locks to only open with the correct code on the keypad. You memorize your passcode or write it down as often as you want. In essence, the key maker for a keypad is you.
- Key cards: This system is an advanced security measure found in places like banks, offices, hotels, and homes. Similar to credit cards, plastic key cards once featured a magnetic stripe that the user swiped through the reader. The code is read, and the lock unlatches. Today’s cards feature radio frequency identification (RFID). RFID comes from a chip in the card, containing information sent to a card reader in the lock. RFID-capable cards and locks feature a “touch-and-go” system that requires users simply hold the card near or on the reader to unlock the door. Digital locks are battery-powered, so you won’t have to worry about entry if your house experiences a power outage.
Digital keys can eliminate the issue of key debris and reduce the possibility of jammed locks, making them a quick, easy alternative to traditional keys. Programmed locks also have more options than pinned locks allow, making lockpicking a thing of the past. You can also opt for a conventional lock alongside your digital lock should the digital one lose its charge. A big drawback is pricing. Keypads can be as little as $30, but the best ones can range up to $150, and there is the regular expense of battery replacement.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Digital Keys
- Immune to lockpickers, power outages
- Easier to protect keys
- Harder to make copies
- More Pricey
- Harder to replace
- Losing charge can make access difficult
- A mechanical key may be required if the digital key fails
Smart Locks: The Way of the Future
Who makes keys for smart locks? Easy: Just look at the brand of your phone. This cutting-edge home security technique consolidates your keys to your phone wirelessly and can be controlled from afar to let others in with your approval, like relatives or babysitters. Locksmiths cut such traditional keys, and key cards and keypads are assembled or installed by locksmiths. Smart locks have also found advances in keyless entry. Through a method known as geofencing, the home can be unlocked whenever you enter the perimeter of your property. Some automakers and locksmiths provide smart locks for vehicles as well.
Like the previous question about cutting your own keys, locksmith professionals are recommended when coding a smart lock. They are well-versed in coding digital locks and understand the industry, how to prevent criminals from overriding locks, and can further augment your property’s security. Like key cutting, locksmiths can program key cards to fit a lock, and can just as easily reprogram locks and keys to match. Depending on which smart lock service you use, you can allow whomever you approve to sync their phones to your locks, similar to sharing the passcode for a keypad lock.
Is the phone out of battery or misplaced? Not a problem. You can have a keypad installed on your smart locks, a keycard reader, or a traditional lock. Consider it the modern equivalent of a key chain.
Smart locks are a nifty advancement for keeping your keys in one place, but there are some potential drawbacks. The main issue is that hackers can steal your personal data and find their way in. Remain wary of where you distribute your personal information on your phone and ask your locksmith how you can hackproof your home’s locks. Another downside is the price point. Smart locks average at around $300, and replacing or repairing them is another costly avenue should these locks be compromised. Also, remember that these locks are powered by both batteries and your home’s internet. If the house is susceptible to power outages, then internet-capable locks will not work, and if your phone runs out of battery and you lose your keycard or code, you might have to call up a locksmith or anyone else who is synced to your smart lock.
If digital keys aren’t in your wheelhouse, look to traditional keys. Traditional keys are cost-effective and still a good way around home security. Their locks are durable, easy to set up, and can’t be hacked.
Advantages and Disadvantages: Smart Locks
- Your phone is your key
- Geofencing can unlock home from afar
- Smart devices can work as a universal key
- Susceptible to hackers
- Limited access to the home for other occupants
- Expensive—$300 on average
- Reliant on a power grid for internet
- Older lock methods may be necessary to override the system
Locksmiths make all kinds of keys, whether physically cut or digitally programmed. Traditional keys are still a compelling, oft-used solution to prevent miscreants and improve home security. They can be cut and replaced through copies of an original or by following a key code. Digital keys range from keypads and keycards to phone-controlled smart locks, making them a quick, convenient way to enter the home or work. These can be changed by choosing a new combination or reprogramming the lock. Much like traditional keys, digital keys can be reconfigured to open all the locks across the entire property.
Which key is the right fit for you? Consult your locksmith today to figure out the best solution.
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