How to Copy a Key: Multiple Techniques with Videos

It may be annoying and expensive, both in terms of time and money, to lose your sole key. However, you may protect yourself against unforeseen and uncomfortable scenarios by making the effort to generate a backup key (copy a key).

With a thorough video, this post will go over different ways to replicate a key. We’ll start with some reasonably priced and accessible services that you may probably find close to home. Then, using tools you undoubtedly already have at home, we’ll discuss several creative methods for manually replicating your key.

Before we get into the specifics of how to replicate a key correctly, let’s first go over a few terms.

How Does Copying a Key Work?

A key is simply duplicated when it is copied. A key is said to be copied when an exact replica of that key is produced.

Where Do Keys Come From?

A key duplicator is a tool for cutting keys. On one side of the key duplicator, a clean key is set in a vise and aligned with the cutting tool (or blade). And a blank key is put in a vise on the side of the machine housing the alignment tool.

A flat piece of metal that runs parallel to the blade is the alignment tool. Your key duplicator’s key guide, also known as the alignment bar, makes ensuring that the keys are parallel to one another.

The blade of the key duplicator cuts into the blank key as the original passes horizontally across the machine, acting as a kind of template, when it is switched on. The duplicate key will then be flawlessly finished by the lock specialist. The outcome is a duplicate key that is exact replica of the original.

How long does it take to duplicate a key?

A skilled locksmith can accurately replicate a conventional key in a few minutes. It might take up to 25 minutes to reproduce a particularly challenging key. Depending on where you go and whose locksmith you use, getting a key duplicated might take a variety of times.

It’s time to go right to one of the main reasons we are here without further ado. You’ll need an original key to duplicate for each method of copying a key described below. So grab your authentic key, and let’s get going!

1. Visit the copy-key booth

Consider going to a key copying booth, the most well-known of which are Minute Key and KeyMe, if you want to create a quick, inexpensive, and simple duplicate of a key.

Key duplicating equipment consists of self-service counters that don’t require assistance from a locksmith or any other staff members. They work by using a laser to scan your key to identify the kind of key and the depth of the cuts. They quickly cut an exact replica after that.

Most automobile keys, padlock keys, house keys, and RFID key cards/chips can all be duplicated by these devices. Your original key and a credit card are all you need to make a purchase.

However, the services and keys offered by each brand of booth vary. As a result, you must look into the nearby booth to see what they have to offer. Occasionally, more complex keys can be scanned in the booth, coded somewhere else, and delivered to you.

Most big retail shops, like Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, Fleet Farm, Tractor Supply, and many more, often have these self-service machines.

Key booths are practical since they let you choose from a range of key styles. There are decorative keys available that include pets, flowers, or even your preferred sports team. Even color coding is an option for keys for various locks!

Therefore, key booths are worth a look if you only need a key quickly and don’t want to deal with any hassle. I’ve used them countless times and never had a key fail.

2. Retail Businesses

Another quick and simple method for duplicating a key is to employ a retail store’s internal key duplication services.

The following retail establishments frequently provide key copying services:

  1. Walmart.
  2. Lowe’s.
  3. AutoZone.

By offering a wider selection of keys, such as key fobs, transponder keys, RFID chips, and keys for high-security locks, retail outlets have an edge over key booths. Additionally, their services are competitively priced.

The only two drawbacks of retail establishments are that they do not provide the wide range of keys and services that a locksmith offers and that they are not as quick and simple to use as any automated system.

You need to keep your original key on hand in order to access retail services. You’ll need to get your lock decoded if you don’t have the original key, or you may use this as a chance to upgrade your locks!

3. The Locksmith

There is no better option if you need a key copy than to call the great magician of locks and keys, the locksmith!

Many people have the misconception that locksmith services are expensive, and in some situations, this is accurate.

4. Making Key Copies at Home

There are other manual key duplication techniques that do not require the assistance of booths or locksmiths or any other third parties.

It’s important to understand before we go that, barring the purchase of your own key cutting machinery, handmade keys seldom outperform properly cut keys. Additionally, they are more likely to break.

Let’s look at three excellent techniques to duplicate a key since a broken key is always better than no key at all.

Making a Key Copy Using a File is Method 1

The first step in creating a duplicate key on your own is to file down a blank key to match the original.

This is a straightforward method that just requires a vice, a file, and a key blank that fits your specific lock. It’s quite possible that the key won’t even fit into the keyway if you use a blank from the incorrect type or brand of lock.

To reproduce keys for the majority of other lock types or keys for higher-security locks, including dimple locks or pin tumbler locks with sidebars, you cannot use this approach; it only works with pin tumbler lock keys.

You may find a key blank for your particular lock at:

1. a local hardware store or a shopping center like Home Depot or Ace
2. one of the local locksmiths
3. Online merchants including Grainger, Amazon, and CLK Supplies
4. Use a pippin (cheap) file, a Dremel (expensive), or a triangle file when it comes to cutting (cheaper). But with a little ingenuity, the majority of little files will probably function.

To copy a key with a file, adhere to these three instructions.
1. Place both keys in a vice or vice-grip after aligning them.
2. Start filling in the blanks using the original key as a reference.
3. Enter your key into the lock when it has been filed, then check it.

Realign it with the key and make sure you didn’t miss anything or misalign it when grinding, just in case your key stops working. Look for slag or bits of metal sticking out from the side of the key if it does not fit into the lock at all.

Additionally, it’s possible that you entered the wrong key blank. Verify that the blank on your key matches the original perfectly.

Create an outline and paste a key onto other materials is Method 2.
Tracing your key onto another material and cutting it out is another quick and dirty approach for producing a key by hand.

By no means is this a long-term fix, but it serves well as a quick fallback.

To use this method, your cloned key must be made of a sturdy material that won’t snap in the lock. If you have a file, frequent materials include soda cans, expired credit cards, hotel keys, and even metal things like butter knives.

Transparent packing tape, pliers, your original key, a cutting tool, and some material for your new key are all need to outline and copy a key.

To sketch and duplicate a key, follow these steps:
1. Cut a piece of transparent packing tape that is longer than the key you wish to copy.
2. Grab your original key’s head with pliers and heat one side of it until it becomes black (soot buildup).
3. Before applying pressure firmly to the tape’s black side, give the key some time to cool.
4. Once the tape is removed, the key’s impression should be visible in black.

5. Place the tape over the material you wish to use to make a key, then cut all the way around the imprint. Make an attempt to be as precise as you can.
6. Give your new key a thorough test.
7. If you’re working with a delicate material, don’t exert any force (like a gift card). Getting a portion of your lock broken off is

Use caution while handling delicate materials (like a gift card). You probably do not want to deal with breaking a portion of your lock.

Method 3: Make a Clay Key by Copying It

You may always cast your key and create a clone if you want to be extra-spy and duplicate it!

Compared to merely obtaining a copy, this process is far more challenging and time-consuming. However, if you need a very precise and functional replica because you don’t have a blank for a peculiar key or just want to have some fun without worrying about cost or effort, follow these steps!

However, cast keys are less durable than typically cut keys. Although they could work, don’t count on them to last forever.

You will need a duplicate key in order to create a clay key.
lighter or a torch.
melting spoon
Molding material
substance used in casting.
Ideally, you should use clay to create your mold. Plaster of Paris, a bar of soap, or even bubble gum can be used to create molds.

For casting your key, the ideal materials are zinc, copper, aluminum, or steel. Just be careful not to insert any broken key parts into the lock. But if you do, make sure to read How To Unlock A Padlock Without Key, my instruction.

What Should You Do If You’ve Lost Your Original Key?

You won’t be able to produce a direct replica using any of the methods described above if you’ve lost your lone key.

However, this does not mean that all is hopeless! Depending on your scenario, there are a few viable options.

1. Speak with a locksmith

The cost of hiring a locksmith may be slightly more than that of the alternatives below. It is, however, the safest and most straightforward course of action.

But if you’ve locked yourself out and can’t get in any other way, calling a locksmith is the only real harmful alternative to manually picking the lock (which we will explain next).

You can go through your options when they show up, but the two most affordable options are probably to replace the lock or have it rekeyed.

2. Check Out This Article For Instructions On How To Open A Padlock Without The Original Key
There, you will discover how to open a lock with nothing but fire, candles, or matches. And you may use it without destroying the locks.

3. Remove the Lock by Yourself

If you’ve locked yourself out and need to go inside, you may always attempt to open the door or overcome the lock on your own.

4. You Should Replace Your Locks
It’s a great idea to get new locks installed when you lose your only set of keys.

You might purchase some dazzling new knobs on your own for less than the expense of having a locksmith rekey your locks.

5. Rekeying Locks is Recommended
To rekey your own locks, you often need the original key. There are workarounds for this need, such as shimming the core, if you’re game.

A five-minute video showing how to copy a key
Watch the video below for a fuller explanation and videographic description of how to replicate a key in 5 minutes;

Is It Illegal To Make A Key Duplicate?

It is not illegal to make copies of common keys, such as home keys, car keys, or padlock keys.

But there is no space for error; the line between duplicating keys and utilizing them illegally is razor-thin. It is practically unlawful to use a key on a lock if you do not own the lock or the object it is protecting. Don’t do that, then.

“Do Not Duplicate” and “Restricted” keys are additional categories to take into account.

Copies of “Do Not Duplicate” keys are legal. There are no rules that prevent someone from copying these incredibly misleading keys. There are no legal repercussions, despite the fact that certain locksmiths and keying companies wouldn’t duplicate them for you.

On the other hand, restricted keys present a unique set of challenges. According to US patent laws, copying rights for these keys are only granted to the original creator. Additionally, copying restricted keys might cost you a hefty fine of up to $10,000.

Keys Marked “Restricted”

It is not permitted to duplicate some keys. These keys are referred to as “limited” by locksmiths, which denotes that only the key’s original maker has the authority to duplicate them. To ensure that their goods are more secure, lock makers have developed limited keys that are more challenging to replicate since the technique needs specialized tools and the key design is patent-protected.

The producers of specialized lock and key systems in the United States are safeguarded by patent rules, which also protect restricted keys. A $10,000 punishment can be imposed for breaking the legislation, which includes making unauthorized copies of restricted keys.

Only approved manufacturers and locksmiths are permitted to duplicate limited keys, and using certain tools is required. The locksmith should require identification and documentation that the individual making the request has authorization from the original owner before producing a copy.

These keys provide a higher level of protection than unrestricted keys, particularly those marked “do not duplicate,” since they are more challenging to replicate. For businesses that wish to control how many copies are made accessible, a limited key can be the best choice.

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