Keys are a part of our everyday lives. We use them to get in and out of our homes, our businesses, and our vehicles. We use them to store things and keep them safe. But, we tend to take little notice of them until we misplace them or grab the wrong ones.
Have you ever wondered how keys are made and the specific mechanisms that make them such powerful tools? How exactly are they duplicated? Discover how this process unfolds from start to finish.
Making Keys: The Materials Used
The process of locksmithing starts with deciding on the type of key-making material. The choice depends on several factors: the cost, the region, and the available resources.
Nickel silver is the strongest metal used for keys. In fact, this alloy is the one typically used for heavy duty locks used in commercial establishments. Keys, however, are usually made of common metals like brass, steel, aluminum, and iron.
Brass requires a lot of attention because of its malleability. Without constant monitoring, the key can be cut wrong for the pattern it’s supposed to be forming. Although it requires tedious tending, brass is actually the preferred material to use for key-making in America for both residential and commercial locks.
Steel, on the other hand, typically costs a lot less than brass because its hardness mandates a slower process and less monitoring. The downside to this material is it’s not very gentle on the internal parts of a lock, especially if the lock itself isn’t made of steel.
Making Keys from Scratch
The process for making a brand new key depends on the lock. If it is your typical manufactured lock, like those used for residential properties, it usually comes with a plastic card called the “keying code” that describes the key ridge dimensions. The person who buys the lock has this code freely available to them and can even hand the card off to their trusted locksmith to make the key.
For higher security locks, the keying code card is only seen either by the locksmith or lock manufacturer. Here, the residential or commercial property owner never sees the card. This is because the fewer people that have the keying code card, the less likely a breach will take place. High-security commercial properties often need such assurance, especially if they house high-priced assets, sensitive information, and other confidential items.
After the Key is Made: How They Are Duplicated
Once a key is made, it often needs to be duplicated, so the relevant people will have copies. Duplicating a key may seem like a simple enough task, but the machines that make the process happen consist of complex mechanisms to make sure the job is done right.
To begin with, the original key is placed inside of the machine while a key without any ridges, known as a key blank, is inserted in another portion of the machine. The machines align these two keys with perfect precision to prevent any mistakes.
After the keys are perfectly aligned, the machine’s cutting mechanism, or cutting wheel, works to follow the grain of the original key and cuts the key blank to create a perfect match. Once this process is finished, the locksmith buffers out excessively sharp edges from the key so that no harm comes to your fingers.
Creating a key is an intricate process that is best performed by a locksmith. They know the best keying materials and can create duplicates or new keys with precision. Better yet, they can ensure long-lasting keys that will keep you, your family, and your business safe.
Coastal Contract Hardware is an experienced locksmith serving the entire Grand Strand area, including key making and key duplication. We service areas in North and South Carolina such as Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach, Garden City, North Myrtle Beach, Little River, Conway, Murrells Inlet, Pawleys Island, and Horry County, SC and other surrounding areas. To find out more, get in touch by visiting our contact page and filling out the form or call us at 843-946-3500. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook as well!