Lesson 5: Key Machines - Part 2

Key Duplication

Key Duplicating

A key duplicator makes a copy of a pre-existing key. The key guide allows the blade to follow the grooves of the original key. The cutting blade is aligned to the guide and cuts the pattern into the blank key. The Borkey key machine is a good example of a key duplicator. The machine is accurate and sturdy. It requires very little servicing. I learned how to duplicate keys on a Borkey and 15+ years later I still use the machine. When using a duplicator, try not to duplicate an already copied key. As generations of duplicated keys are made, minor inaccuracies in the machine become magnified – eventually your duplicated key will not work in the lock. When copying keys for your customers, insist on duplicating keys from the original key. To ensure the accuracy of your key machine, recalibrate for accuracy regularly.

“Do Not Copy” Keys: A common question I get asked is what to do with “do not copy” keys. Can you copy them or can’t you? As I write this, in 2013, British Columbia Canada, it is currently legal to duplicate a key that is labeled “do not copy.” To do so you need to get your customer to fill out some paper work which documents who is making the copy and ensuring that they have permission to do so. At this time you should also check their ID to make sure it matches the papers. “Do Not Copy” legislature changes and varies region to region. Make sure you check with your local security experts for more information about “Do Not Copy” keys.

Parts of a Key Duplicator

  • Power button: Activates or deactivates the key machine.
  • Motor: usually found at the back of the key machine and within metal housing.
  • Belt: The belt transfers the motors energy to the blade and brush, enabling them to spin.
  • Cutter: These blades cut the blank key.
  • Handle: The handle contains the vice grips, release mechanism, and lever and chassis.
  • Vice Grips: Key duplicators have two vice grips. The original key is put into one of the vice grips and the blank key in the other.
  • Handle Release Mechanism: There is a release mechanism which allows you to move the keys across the key guide and cutter.
  • Lever and Chassis: The lever and chassis moves the handle across the cutters and key gauge.
  • Key Guide: The key guide outlines the grooves of the original key, allowing the blade to cut that pattern into the blank key. The key guide sits across from the vice grips. It helps align the key onto the key machine.
  • Deburring Wheel: Once you have cut your key, this spinning wheel brushes off additional brass filings.
  • Alignment mechanism: The alignment mechanism ensures that your original key and blank key are aligned in the vice grips. This is crucial for maintaining key accuracy. Alignment is measured from the point of the key where the shoulder meets the blade.

How to Duplicate a Key

      1. Put on safety hardware.
      2. Diagnose the make and model of the original key. Check chapter one for more info on how to identify keys.
      3. Place the original key in the vice grip across from the key guide. Place the blank key in the vice grips across from the cutter.
      4. Check to make sure the keys are aligned. The key guide should rest on the blade and fully butt up against the shoulder of the key. The cutter should rest on the same place of the blank key. Some key duplicators have an alignment device built into the handle. These measure alignment by the shoulder in the same way.
      5. Activate the power button.
      6. Place one hand on the lever and one hand on the handle. Release the handle release mechanism.
      7. Slowly lower the handle towards the cutter until the key guide touches the blade of the key. Start the cut from the shoulder side of the blade. Using the lever, slowly guide the key across the cutter. This step should take about 3 seconds. This process will cause brass fillings to shoot everywhere and will be noisy.
      8. Return the handle back to the original position. Remove the keys. Brush the edges of the new key on the deburring wheel.
      9. Turn the power off.

Congratulations! You have successfully duplicated a key!

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