With the globalization of the economy, and even in this era of electronic access control, we still see a large number of mechanical keys that need to be cut on a daily basis. The challenge we face as a locksmith is trying to keep up with the ever-increasing number of import and un-identified key blanks coming into the shop. What are some of the options to help identify keys?
IDN Resources | Manufacturer Price Books
Some of the obvious answers are to look at our available key blank guides/catalogs on our Manufacturer Price Books resource page under such manufacturers as Ilco, JMA, Jet, and ESP. These guides usually have a line drawing of the key profile underneath the key pictured, usually arranged alphabetically by the lock’s manufacturer. Many key blanks have little or no branding, so you may have to look through a large cross-section of the book to find something with a similar or identical profile.
The Close Enough Philosophy
A large portion of import keys are for furniture and cabinets and are usually a wafer/disc tumbler with a fairly open keyway. The best answer to these locks is to take advantage of the open keyway, which will allow a key with a similar profile to enter the keyway. The tolerances of the locking mechanisms are fairly low-tech and will allow a key with a similar profile to enter and work.
Hi-Tech: Key Code Search
The next step would be to query any code type number on the key with a key code program such as Genercode by Framon, Codesource by HPC or Blackhawk. With the key in hand, you can compare cuts on the key to the codes that may come up which usually lists the key blank used with that code.
Google is Your Friend
The Internet can also be of help. Sometimes just entering the parameters of the key such as a brand or code may yield some good information. Also, there are websites that specialize in office furniture keys, cut and key blanks.
Trail and Error/Take a Closer Look
The last options are to make one copy of a key as a sample and have the customer try it out before committing to a larger number of duplicates. Another answer is to have the customer bring in the lock if possible, as some locks may come out with just a screw or a nut. This is especially helpful if a customer calls first to inquire if a key can be made. If they can bring the lock with them it may solve the problem with just one trip.
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