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Not really related to bumping, but making a key...


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#1 masterhater

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Posted 02 December 2007 - 01:30 PM

I've searched quite awhile for the process of a homemade key and can't find any (Although I did find some articles on how a guy made a tubular key to break into vending machines, good for those late nite snacks :D)

I didn't get a 'mold' or anything of that sort but I used a very fine mechanical pencil to trace the outline of both sides including the grooves cut into the side so I know what blank to get.

The problem is, I'm not sure how to count the spacing or how many pins the key is supposed to move so I can choose the proper length at a store. Would it be sufficient enough to just bring the tracing to the store and line the key up and then check for matching grooves etc?

The second part is once I get the blank home, what tools can be used to most efficiently cut the grooves. I have a bastard file, Dremel and misc. other tools, nothing as fancy as a lathe or CNC machine I'm afraid heh.

Any help would be greatly appriciated, thanks.

#2 masterhater

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 11:24 AM

anyone?...

#3 theopratr

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 12:00 PM

What came first, the chicken or the egg? The same can be applied to keys and key duplicating machines, but in this case there is a definitive answer. Keys came first, and thus you don't need a machine to copy them.

If you have very carefully traced the key to be copied, you have an accurate portrayal of the spacing and depths associated with that key. You don't need to explicitly know about pin depths, spacing or even the number of pins, as that should all be covered in what you traced.

The number of pins is specific to the blank, and it technically unimportant to simply copying a key. You can determine the number of pins by counting the number of grooves on your original key, or the tracing of said key. When you trace the key, you need only (very carefully) trace one side. The millings on the side of the key are not of any consequence as long as you take note of the blank, and copy its designation. (SC1, KW1, etc.)

Once you have an accurate tracing, get yourself a set of very small steel files. At this point, you have a number of options. The easiest method is to superimpose your tracing onto the key, marking with a fine point Sharpie where the center of each cut falls on top of the key blade. Use a triangular file to start each cut.

Once you have begun your cuts, continue using a square file to bring the depth of each cut down until it matches your traced copy. You can do this one pin at a time, or you can file all four, five or six, stopping as each cut reaches the proper depth. Use a flat file to tune the ramps connecting each cut, and make sure that those are particularly accurate - failure to ensure the smooth transfer from cut to cut could result in the key getting stuck in the lock. This is especially true if the ramp is at too great an angle for the pin to pass.

Make sure when comparing your key to the traced copy that you exactly orient your blank over the paper copy in such a way that the separation between the top of the blank and the pencil line is representative of where the original key sat - exactly lining up the key with the line will give you cuts that are too deep.

The secondary method of doing this is generally similar, but instead of lining up the key with the tracing, you simply take a psychotic series of measurements off of your tracing. Measure the depth of each cut, with respect to the top of the key blank, the exact distance from the center of each cut to the next, the distance from the shoulder to the center of the last cut, the distance from the tip to the first cut, the exact width of each cut, etc. etc. etc.

Once you have your measurements, simply apply them (carefully) to you blank. You can use a super fine-point marker, although I find that using an exacto knife to scratch in the proper depths and spacing is a bit more accurate. For this method, you need either a nice digital diopter, or perhaps a micrometer for best results. It can be done, with greater care, with a high quality millimeter ruler.

Hope this helps, if you have any further questions, comments, concerns, gripes, complaints, etc. leave it in the Chit Chat section of the forum.

#4 masterhater

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 08:50 PM

Much appriciated theopratr and I apologize for not putting it in the correct forum however before I posted I noticed the subforum you specified gets little traffic (Last posting was almost a month ago) so I assumed my post probably wouldn't get answered there any time soon, hence why it is here.

I hit a snag whilst trying to find a blank however. I went to Lowe's and all they have are the Schlage (SC) and Kwikset (KW) key designations. I figured it wouldn't matter as long as the length of the blank matched my tracing. Nevermind the suspicious looks I was getting but the point I'm getting at is that the SC and KW blanks have a rearwards diagnal cut at the tip of the blank which I need. When I superimposed the blank against my tracing the tracing sticks out a couple millimeters past the blank. The only marking on the key that I can make out is AC1. I searched for that designation and didn't come up with anything. Only later did I realize that even if the key was the right size it would have never fit because of the grooves.

No luck on finding a small file set either. I'll try to hit up some hobby shops or craft stores. If you could possibly remember where you got yours (If you even have a set) I'd apprciate it.

Edit- I don't know if this will help to identify the key but the groove profile looking at it head on, it looks very similar to an S. Both grooves have sweeping side cuts (cresent-like) but the bottom cut of the top groove and the top cut of the bottom groove are straight and parallel to the ground.

#5 masterhater

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 09:10 PM

Nevermind, I'm a retard, designation is Arrow (AR1). I've only seen Schlage and Kwikset keys in stores do you know who stocks Arrows? I think the key I have is a master key also, would that factor into picking a blank or are they all cut from the same blanks?

#6 theopratr

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 08:51 AM

Even Lowes, using their low quality Axxess brand keys, stock Arrow keys. (Arrow is a very common brand, and thus to not stock such keys would be rather devastating to any key duplication business!)

Look for Axxess blank #77, this is equivalent to an AR1.

If you want a higher quality blank, go with ILCO brand keys. These are more commonly found at franchise hardware stores, i.e. Ace, Benny's, etc.

I've purchased files from Home Depot, under the brand name General in the tools section. Six small files, with a grip, all packaged in a 100% Genuine Synthetic Aircraft-Grade Naugahyde case. The case sucks, but the files work great. The set cost less than $10.

Also, I believe at Home Depot, for something on the order of $16 you can get a much nicer file set, with a much longer stainless steel grip, and better quality files, but only three of them, and no case.

Radio-shack, ironically, occasionally caries a microfile set, actually a good deal smaller than you really require them to be, but they're very good for fine work. The files fit into the grip itself, which has a screw cap on the back. I caught it on clearance last week for $4.95. If you went this route, you'd probably need to get some larger files for bulk metal removal, because these guys are properly tiny.

Benny's, if you live in the Northeast, has a decent set of 12 or so files on sale for $7.00. Six small files, and an assortment of larger files. Pretty much perfect, except that I don't specifically enjoy working with files that have fixed handles.

Most of the other files I have were relics from when I was just getting into locksmithing... some of them came with my key duplicator, some of them, I'm pretty sure, actually belong to my local locksmith when I was contracting for him. If you look carefully enough, however, I guarantee you that you can find a decent file set. Look near the larger files, and near the punches, chainsaws, etc.

A master keyed system is set up in such a way that one or more pin stacks have an extra, smaller pin which allows it to break at two points. Generally, for something like an apartment complex, school, hospital, etc. there can be, say, two out of five pins that are common for every single key, with the other three being variable. The variations in those three pins prevent individual change keys from being effective in opening other locks, while at the same time all of those locks can be opened by the master key because the second set of pin sizes is always the same. Bob can open Bob's locker, but not Sally's, and vice versa, but if Mike has a master key, he can get into his own, Bob's, Sally's, etc.

Since you're duplicating, there are no special procedures for copying a master key. It should be stated, however, that because of the smaller pin size associated with those smaller master pins the tolerances on master keyed locks increase a bit - if you're off in a manner that's just right, and you try to force the lock when it doesn't quite work, you risk doing serious damage to the lock in question.

#7 masterhater

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 06:33 PM

Again, much appriciated for the vast repository of info heh... I'll let you know how it turns out.