Emergencies happen. Whether you accidentally locked yourself out of your home or you bought a car with no keys, you may need the help of an experienced locksmith. Duplicating a key without an original may sound like a challenge, but there are actually a few different ways a locksmith can make a replacement. Use this brief guide to learn more about how duplicate keys are made and see how Locksmith Plus can help you in an emergency situation.
How Can Keys Can Be Duplicated Without an Original?
Almost any kind of key can be reproduced without an original. There are several different reasons why you might not have access to the original key, such as:
- Lost or stolen keys
- Keys are damaged
- Keys breaking inside the lock
- Previous owner lost the keys
- Locked the keys inside the car or building
No matter what the reason is for not having the original, there are a few methods you can use for getting a new key made.
New keys are forged using key cutting machines and blank keys. Typically, you will find a code written on the key that aligns with the grooves and ridges found along the key. When the code is entered into the machine, a blade begins to cut the blank key. Every type of key uses a slightly different blade and code card. Most people do not have this advanced machinery readily available, so they hire an experienced locksmith to quickly make the duplicate.
Making a duplicate key without the original key or key code can be a bit trickier. Locksmiths can often identify what kind of blank key they need to start with when you give them some basic information. For example, car key blanks can be identified using the year, make, and model of your vehicle. Professional locksmiths have all of the tools needed to recreate the key from scratch.
What Kind of Keys Can Be Duplicated By a Professional Locksmith?
Experienced locksmiths will be able to make a wide range of keys quickly and easily with or without an original. Here are a few common examples:
- Front or back door keys
- Office keys
- Electronic and manual vehicle keys
- Garage door keys
- Window lock keys
- Keys to safes, storage boxes, and other household items
While most keys can quickly be reproduced, there are a few limitations. For example, some locks may be patented, so replacements can only be ordered through the key’s original manufacturer without a licensing agreement. An experienced locksmith will be able to help you to help you obtain a blank key or connect with a manufacturer.
After you call a local locksmith, the technician will be able to examine the lock and tell you your best course of action. Whether you have been locked out of your home in the middle of the night or can’t find your car keys, the technician will do their best to open the lock and help you get a replacement. In most cases, a replacement can be made on-site in just a few minutes!
What Do I Need to Duplicate My Key Without a Copy?
While almost any kind of key can be duplicated without an original copy, there are some limitations. These limits are in place to prevent theft and promote safety. For example, you couldn’t ask for a key to your neighbor’s house or safe unless you had proof that you were authorized to do so.
When you hire a reputable locksmith, you will need to prove ownership of the property you need a key to. For a home lock, this is typically a driver’s license with a matching address or a deed to the property. Vehicles typically require a copy of the title. If you don’t own the property but still need a key, you will need to present a letter of authorization and proof of ownership from the property owner.
If you aren’t sure what kind of documents you’ll need, it never hurts to ask. Experienced locksmiths can walk you through the process and point you in the right direction.
How to Get a Copy of Your Car Key if You are Locked Out
One of the most common scenarios locksmiths help with is people locking themselves out of their cars or losing their keys. While some vehicles still have traditional keys, most manufacturers have transitioned to electronic key fobs. This means that the key cannot simply be cut to match the original; it needs to be programmed.
If you or your locksmith don’t have the tools to reprogram your key fob, you will need to order a new one from the manufacturer. Luckily, most vehicles, even ones with keyless entry or electronic starts, can be operated without a transmitter. Your manual keyhole may be hidden under a door handle or behind the steering wheel.
Each make and model is a little different, but an experienced locksmith will be able to easily get you back into your vehicle. Locksmith Plus is able to help you replace jammed, broken, and lost keys 24-hours a day. Technicians are able to reproduce standard and transponder keys on-location, allowing you to get back on the road as quickly as possible.
Should I Make a New Key Myself?
There are a few instances where making a new key yourself can be beneficial, but you don’t want to risk damaging the lock. The safest way to make a duplicate key is by using an advanced technique known as impressioning. You may still need to work with a professional locksmith to ensure you are using the right key blank. Poorly cut and incorrect keys can break off or become jammed in the lock!
If you do decide to make the key yourself at home, you will need two key blanks, but it is recommended to get a few extra. You will also need a pippin file to file off the sides.
After filing down one of the blank keys into a thin point, use vice grips to hold it in place. Grab a lighter and hold it below the key until a small amount of smoke is left on the blank. Then, insert the blank into the keyhole on the lock and gently twist it. The goal is to rub against the pins or wafers in the lock, leaving small marks on the key. This will show you where you need to cut.
Next, take the pippin file and file down the marks left on the key. This is a time-consuming process, and it can be difficult on complex keys. You will need to make multiple impressions on the key, filing a little bit at a time until you get all of the ridges and notches correct. Eventually, you will insert the key and be able to successfully spin the cylinder.
Unfortunately, the key you just made will be very weak. To avoid risking it breaking, make one more duplicate key. An experienced locksmith will have all the tools needed to make strong copy. It is always a safer idea to hire a Vancouver WA locksmith vs doing it yourself.
Can I Just Disassemble the Lock Instead of Getting a New Key?
If you don’t have an original key, you can attempt to disassemble the lock instead of having a replacement made. This is often the last resort and even experienced locksmiths may find it difficult depending on the type of lock. If a small piece of the key is stuck inside the lock, it is often better to try extracting it with pliers before attempting to disassemble the whole lock.
Removing or replacing a lock entirely can also be an option. Most door locks can be removed and replaced using a screwdriver and Allen wrench. Cylinder locks on interior doors tend to be very common and simple to remove. Exterior doors, safes, garage doors, security systems, and cars may be a bit more complicated.
Because disassembling, removing, or replacing a lock can be difficult, don’t be afraid to contact a professional for help. The last thing you want is to compromise your security by destroying part of the lock or re-installing it incorrectly.
How Much Does It Cost to Get Keys Replaced
The final price of your replacement key will vary depending on the type of work you are getting done. In an emergency situation, you may need to pay more to have the technician travel to you and make a new key on-site. The complexity of the lock can also play a role how much the final bill is. An experienced locksmith will discuss pricing with you in advance so that you can make an informed decision about your lock and keys.
Get Your Keys Replaced 24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week
No matter what kind of key you need replaced, Locksmith Plus is here to help. We have years of experience working with all kinds of domestic and foreign vehicles, home and office security systems, storage containers, and more. We can often make your replacement key on-site! To learn more about our key replacement services, please contact us today!