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OT Duplicate keys

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  • OT Duplicate keys

    I guess it's a pet peev, but I have one of my original house keys. I don't have to jiggle it, just stick it in, turn it and presto the door opens. My wife gave her original key to one of the kids years ago and has since had numerous duplicates made at various places, but mostly W-mart. Every key has to be jiggled to open the door.

    I wanted a duplicate to put on a seperate key ring with a new set of truck keys so I didn't have to lug around 20+ keys. I decided I would take my original key and go to Lowes and have one made, (already told her I didn't like the machine at W-mart.) She also wanted a copy with one of the Pooh Bear characters. Guess what? Both stinking keys have to be jiggled, and seem to be worse than others she's had made from a duplicate.

    What the heck, can't anyone make a duplicate that you don't look like your breaking into a house with a lock pick?

    Do you think it would do any good to "buff" the edges slightly with 3M wheel or dremel?


  • #2
    Buffing might help would not hert. To get a beter fitting key go to a locksmith. you will pay alittle more for better quilty. The big box stores use a automatic machine that does an average jop for non skilled workers.
    Craftsman 101.07403
    Grizzly G0704
    4x6 Bandsaw


    • #3
      duplicate key

      Take your perfect key and measure each low spot on all the depressions of the good key with a vernier caliper and compare the dimensions with the depressions on the duplicate keys. Unless the operator of the key cutting machine is very careful setting up there will be discrepancies in the depth of each depression also the distance the center of the depression is from the depth stop on the key. You will find differences between the good key and the duplicates. Take the keys back with the discrepancies documented and ask to have new keys cut properly. It would take time but you could file your own duplicates if you buy blanks from the vendor. Just my 2c. Peter
      The difficult done right away. the impossible takes a little time.


      • #4
        Originally posted by kd4gij
        Buffing might help would not hert. To get a beter fitting key go to a locksmith. you will pay alittle more for better quilty. The big box stores use a automatic machine that does an average jop for non skilled workers.
        +1 on this. You get what you pay for. All key cutting machines--and their operators--are not created equal...
        Just one project too many--that's what finally got him...


        • #5
          Too bad, I recently sold an old key cutter on CL for $50, WITH 550 assorted blanks. I never let the key cutter guy wire brush a key. I just run my pocket knife along the edges to remove the burs. If I need a key cut, I go to my little hole in the wall hardware store where they know how to cut a key. Bob.


          • #6
            Most locksmiths keep their machines adjusted properly. Most big box stores rely on the company that sells the blanks for them to cut, to adjust their machines. This may or may not be done correctly. A lot of these machines may never have been adjusted since leaving the factory or at least since the first set up. The locksmith does charge more but they have the correct machine adjustment and blank for what you need. I'm sure cases may be different on both sides but majority cases seem to be as I have stated. An instructor of mine once told me, you may be able to turn on a machine but that doesn't make you qualified to operate it.


            • #7
              Thanks guys. I'll try dragging my knife blade along the edge, if that doesn't help then I'll grab the mic and some files. Then, as a last resort I'll visit a locksmith and "explain" the problem.

              Really need to replace the door as the outer skin is starting to delaminate. I've "rebuilt" the dead bolt several times over the years. I've held off replacing the door and lock for several years now due to all the locks being keyed alike. I guess I could have the locksmith key the new lock to the existing locks. Also years ago a friend "double keyed" the interior side of the dead bolt so that I could leave the key in it. If anyone ever took the key it would not open the outside lock, but the outside key would unlock the interior side of the dead bolt.



              • #8
                As others suggested, compare your new keys to the old. Generally, if problems exist, its due to the key not sitting "flat" when cut - ie. one end's cuts will be consistently deeper than the other key's. If this is the case, take the key back. If the key seems to have been cut flat, then look at the depth. My experience with non-locksmith cut keys has been that typically the cuts are shallow due to predicting wear. A few seconds with a wire will has always cured it for me.
                "I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer -- born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow."


                • #9
                  I suspect that the problem is that you have a lock that is well made.

                  Check the good key. When you insert it, does it actually ride on one of the grooves milled down the side, or does the top of the key touch the top of the keyway? Most cheap locks use the top of the keyway as the surface that the key rubs against. Many quality locks use the grooves to ensure that the key is precisely located

                  Now compare that to the way a walmart key sits. Does it sit the same way? Many cheap keys use a milled slot that is a few thousandths wider so that it fits more locks. This allows the key to sit "higher" than the original.

                  Many key cutting machines register the key location against the back of the key and the shoulder ( or tip, depending on the key ). If the key is in fact riding on a groove, then it is that groove that needs to be used as the reference when aligning the original and duplicate.

                  Am old locksmith trick for "do not duplicate" keys is to make a good key that rides on the side grooves, then take around 4 or 5 thousandths off the back. That key will work perfectly, but every hardware store duplicate will not quite work.

                  At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and extra parts.


                  • #10
                    This is a very common problem and as others posted, getting a key cut by some kid who has no clue is not going to produce a duplicate. Those key cutting machines sit forever with no tune ups etc.

                    What i have done a couple of times is carefully clamp the two keys together, (good one against the bad one, and compare the teeth,, you'll be surprised how much difference there is.
                    Then if you can see good, carefully file the bad one to the same dimensions as the good one. This works.

                    A finicky project, but if enjoy challenges this is a good one to try.


                    • #11
                      Yeah, I'd just take it to a real locksmith and not one of the big box places. Although I've had good luck at smaller, mom and pop hardware stores that have an older staff running the place. Running one of those generic key cutting machines well takes skill just like any machine tool, which really, is what they are.

                      When I was a teenage I work at a filling station/truck stop and we cut keys there. I was the guy that everybody came to to get keys cut. Even the guys that worked there longer than me would call me over whenever somebody asked to have a key made. They take proper setup just like any machine tool. Being a duplicating machine you have to set the template (original key) and the blank up correctly phased or the result will be what you've been getting.


                      • #12
                        On a related note; anybody ever make a master Vidmar key? I have a master Vidmar key that literally fits every Vidmar cabinet in the world. They claim that they are impossible to duplicate but anything that can be made can be unmade. I've made a bunch but think I'm down to one spare.


                        • #13
                          A locksmith will measure your key and
                          cut you a new key BY NUMBER.
                          That way any error will not duplicate.



                          • #14
                            How old is the lock? With time the pins, the drivers and the cylinder plug become worn resulting in keys (however good a copy) that don't work without fiddling. Making copies of copies doesn't help either.

                            Get a copy made at a Locksmith. If that fails to solve the problem, get a new cylinder but keep one of the originals in a safe place to make copies from.

                            Screw WallyWorld. Support your local Locksmith, before that becomes another skilled trade that disappears in America.


                            • #15

                              While I second the locksmith vs big box I took the easy way & installed one of the digital ones. Push a few buttons and...
                              Still accepts a key as backup