skeleton key

“Keys have certainly been updated, but these keys will never be outdated.” -LPI


There are two types of keys referred to as skeleton keys. The first is an interesting and often times beautiful key used for old doors and antique furniture. These kinds of keys are no longer created on any regular basis, but many are delighted by their intrigue when old chests, cabinets or music boxes are purchased. There is something remarkably stunning about these keys. Now-a-days we occasionally see them used as props in plays, as necklace charms, or even as decorations. As a clever locksmith once put it, “these keys have certainly been updated, but they will never be outdated.” -LPI


The second type of key referred to as a skeleton key is actually a modern and very popular design that many businesses are dependent upon on a regular basis. Another common term for this multi purpose key is the master key. The master key is used to unlock several doors using one key. While this key is popular and helpful, the topic of master keys will be reserved for another day.


Brief history lesson:


What is a skeleton key, and what were they intended for?

Skeleton keys were used in the earlier centuries for front doors, locked chests, and cabinets, among other things. Their unique metal designs were prized during their time, so each one holds a captivating appearance. These types of keys were designed thousands of years ago, beginning with wooden designs, moving into brass designs, and eventually evolved with other metals. The skeleton key was discontinued in the 20th century when more secure keys were created in place of them.


So how do skeleton keys work?


In all their simplicity these keys are more secure than they appear. Unlike the modern day metal keys that are inserted parallel inside of a lock, these keys are accompanied by what is referred to as a warded lock; A lock with two plates that face outwards, to restrain the door from being unlocked without the proper key. This system gives way for a key to run between the two plates, with the top of the key pointing upwards. The top of the key is held in place by the two plates (inside the ward lock) while the key is being turned, forcing the plates aside to unlock the door.


If a skeleton key is lost, can a locksmith replace it?


A locksmith may have some pre-cut skeleton keys on hand or be willing to order the key you are searching for. Unlike modern day keys and locks that require millions of differing combinations and systems, during the time of skeleton keys, many keys were created, but few locking systems were invented. This is relieving information for someone who needs a replacement key. Finding the correct cut may not be as simple as desired, but it can be done.


If you are in need of services regarding a lost skeleton key, give an LPI locksmith a call, or visit one of their locations. They are trained, educated and ready to assist you.


Can a skeleton key lock be opened by a locksmith?


Yes. If you are locked out of your house, a chest, or any other system requiring a skeleton key, you can contact a locksmith and they will be on their way to assist you. The cost of this service is no different than the cost of other unlocking services provided.


Can these locks be opened without calling a locksmith?


The short answer is yes, it is possible. If you take instructions well, a youtube video could be your saving grace. However, if you are uncomfortable with the instructions given and have no prior experience with these kinds of locks, it may be in your best interest to call a locksmith. Attempting to pick a lock without proper training could always result in undesired damage to the lock.

And if you ever find yourself in the PNW area give our Locksmiths a call!

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