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  • Key relevance

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    Key Relevance DiagramIn master locksmithing, key relevance is the measurable difference between an original key and a copy made of that key, either from a wax impression or directly from the original, and how similar the two keys are in size and shape. It can also refer to the measurable difference between a key and the size required to fit and operate the keyway of its paired lock. No two copies of keys are exactly the same, even if they were both made from key blanks that are struck from the same mould or cut from the same duplicating/milling machine with no changes to the bitting settings in between. Even under these favorable circumstances, there will be minute differences between the two key shapes, though their key relevance is extremely high. In all machining work, there are measurable amounts of difference between the design specification of an object, and its actual manufactured size. In locksmithing, the allowable tolerance is decided by the range of minute differences between a key's size and shape in comparison to the size and shape required to turn the tumblers within the lock.

  • Key blank

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    Keyblanks pre-stamped with various imprints to discourage key duplication. A key blank (sometimes spelled keyblank) is a key that has not been cut to a specific bitting. The blank has a specific cross-sectional profile to match the keyway in a corresponding lock cylinder. Key blanks can be stamped with a manufacturer name, end-user logo or with a phrase, the most commonly seen being 'Do not duplicate'. Blanks are typically stocked by locksmiths for duplicating keys. The profile of the key bow, or the large, flat end, is often characteristic of an individual manufacturer. Despite common belief, keys stamped with "Do not duplicate" or "It is unlawful to duplicate this key" are, with few exceptions, perfectly legal to duplicate. Some key blank manufacturers strictly restrict the sale of their own blanks. Some blanks are made only in small volumes and are not widely available. The State of California prohibits locksmiths from copying keys marked "Do Not Duplicate" or "Unlawful to Duplicate", provided the key originator's company name and telephone number are included on the key. Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA), an internationally recognized association for locksmiths, considers such stamps an unfulfillable threat of punishment or prosecution.

  • Key duplication

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    Video showing the process of cutting a keyKey duplication refers to the process of creating a key (lock) based on an existing key. Key cutting (after cutting, the metalworking term for "shaping by removing material") is the primary method of key duplication: a flat key is fitted into a vise in a machine, with a blank attached to a parallel vise, and the original key is moved along a guide, while the blank is moved against a wheel, which cuts it. After cutting, the new key is deburred: scrubbed with a metal brush to remove burrs, small pieces of metal remaining on the key, which, were they not removed, would be dangerously sharp and, further, foul locks. Different key cutting machines are more or less automated, using different milling or grinding equipment, and follow the design of early 20th century key duplicators. Key duplication is available in many retail hardware stores and as a service of the specialized locksmith, though the correct key blank may not be available. More recently, online services for duplicating keys have become available.

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