Can You Get a Key Cut for a Lock Without a Key?

Find out how locksmiths can make duplicate keys for locks without keys. Learn about how they measure depth of cut and use code cutting machines.

Can You Get a Key Cut for a Lock Without a Key?

In most cases, a locksmith can create a key for a lock, even when there isn't one to copy. Contacting a local locksmith is the best way to find out if they can duplicate a spare key. However, replacement keys may not be available for all models of locks. If this is the case, you may need to buy a new lock. If neither of these options is feasible, you should contact a locksmith to open or remove the lock.

If there is no risk that the lost key could match the one in the house again, it will be much cheaper to decode a single lock cylinder and produce a new key that works with all existing locks than to relock all those locks with a new key (see How Much It Costs to Change a House Key). Once the code has been determined, a card can be printed and inserted into a code cutting machine to correctly cut the key. These pins and wafers can leave marks (prints) on a blank key that has been filed to the edge of a knife, and these marks, in the hands of an expert locksmith, can guide the locksmith when it comes to filing a working key.Shawn Fago is a master locksmith and founder of Noble Locksmith, a national locksmith company based in San Diego, California. You can go to another hardware store in your area or contact a locksmith to see if they can produce a replacement key.

To measure the depth of cut of a key, cameras or small tools are used to visually or tactically determine the depth of cut of a key by inspecting the wafers or pins of the lock cylinder. If you registered the key number, you may be able to get replacement keys from a hardware store or locksmith. When you have a blank key, it's easy because you're making a duplicate, so you have the blank piece in front of you and you can copy it. The locksmith will then have to determine the correct code and the correct key by inspecting the lock. With more than seven years of experience, he provides commercial, residential and automotive locksmith services to his customers.

If the code matches a valid system, the software tells the locksmith how to cut the key with one of his key cutting machines. A good example of using this technique is when an owner has lost the only key to their house but has not lost it in such a way that they suspect someone might find it and tie it to their home. If you still have a physical key, you should be able to duplicate it at your local hardware store or locksmith. Key codes may be available on the lock cylinder itself, on a label or other document attached to the product where the cylinder is located, or, in the case of cars, somewhere on the vehicle body (see How Locksmiths Make Car Keys). If there is any doubt that the lost key could match the one in the house, it's best to change it; however, this is often not necessary.

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