We are often asked “What’s the difference…..” from customers on a variety of topics. We are starting a new segment on our blog and will answer those questions here.

What’s the difference between a bit key, a barrel key, and a skeleton key?

Bit Key, Barrel Key, Skeleton Key


  • Bit keys must be cut from a key blank in order to operate a specific lock.
  • Barrel keys are similar to bit keys, but they have a hole at the tip that permits them to slide over a post within the lock.
  • Skeleton keys are pre-cut (or bitted)

Locks using these styles of keys are frequently found on antique furniture and clocks, older homes and restoration projects. Due to the design of this older style of locks, skeleton keys may fit and function in more than one lock.

Image Source: Kaba Ilco

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