Types of Key Cutting

When you contact your London, Ontario locksmith, you may think it is a simple job for them to prepare a new key for you.  Actually, it is a very skilled position that requires knowledge of several different types of cutting machines.  Part of the choice will depend on the type of key needed, i.e. house key, car key, master key, etc.  A machine may need to move in many directions: left to right, in and out, and up and down.

The locksmith starts with a blank key, which is a piece of flat metal.  The original key is used as a pattern while the machine cuts or shaves away at the metal blank until the duplicate matches the original.  If there is no original key available, the operator relies on a code, which will allow the locksmith to access the information necessary to replicate the original.


This is the most common type of key machine and you will see it in hardware stores as well as locksmiths.  Semi-automatic versions are a general choice.  The key is clamped in place and the machine holds it in place while the individual controls the left to right movement.  There are also fully automatic versions of this machine where the machine does all the work.  However, it is a very slow process and sometimes the machine runs through the entire process twice to be sure the cuts are to the full depth necessary for the key to work properly.  There is a different type of duplicator machine for use with flat steel or corrugated keys that work in safe deposit boxes.


A code key is cut to the original manufacturer’s specifications.  Duplicated keys are replicated from a pattern.  So the locksmith enters the specific code for the key into the computerized system and a key is generated.  That means you do not need the original key for the process.  Each key is considered original and is made to factory specifications. 


This is the machine the locksmith brings to the site.  It is lightweight and works without electricity.  


These machines are only for keys that are shaped like tubes.  The tubular keys come in different diameters and have pins.  The standard tubular key is .137 inches in diameter and has seven pins in a circle.  If your original key has a different diameter, a specific tubular machine will be needed.  These machines can be run with a motor or hand-cranked.

High Security Milling

These are very expensive machines and are primarily used for vehicle keys.  They can function as a duplicator or make an original key.  They usually have many key codes programmed into the system. 

There are a number of manufacturers around the world that make machines that duplicate keys.  The locksmith must decide the features and benefits of each machine and its manufacturer as well as warranties.  Part of the decision will depend on the type of services the locksmith will provide.  That is why when you contact a locksmith to help you with a problem of a lost key or duplication, that company may or may not be able to help you out of your fix.



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