Key duplication is the process of creating a new copy of a previously used key. This can be done by a professional locksmith, or with the right tools at home. Duplicates can be made for a variety of reasons including lost keys, broken keys or simply rekeying a lock. It’s important that proper records are kept for any duplicate keys to ensure accountability and security.
A key cutting machine is the most common way for keys to be copied. This machine works by accurately tracing the shape of the original key and then cutting a blank to match. These machines can be found at many hardware stores and locksmiths.
There are also key-copying kiosks available in malls and supermarkets, such as ‘MinuteKey’ or ‘KeyMe.’ These self-service stations allow customers to create a duplicate key within minutes. These systems use innovative technology to quickly and accurately cut keys.
Some keys are not allowed to be copied, for example, those marked with a ‘Do Not Duplicate’ label. These are often used for high-security locks and may be subject to U.S patent laws. However, these labels are often not enforced and copies of these keys can still be made.
While it’s not practical to take the time and effort required to make a cast of your key and then mold it, a hand file is a cheap and simple option. You’ll need a vice, blank key blanks and a file (ideally a pippin file or a Dremel but improvising will work). Then clamp the two together and carefully grind away to copy the shape of the original key. Once completed, the duplicate key should be tested in the lock to ensure it works.