How to copy keys without the actual key
There are several ways to get a key cut without having the physical key, but it’s important to note that not all of these methods will work for every type of key. Some methods may be more suitable for certain types of keys, while others may not be practical or even possible.
Using a key code to copy keys
One way to get a key cut without the physical key is by using a key code. Many keys, especially those for residential properties, are sold with a key code, which is a series of numbers or letters that corresponds to the specific cuts on the key. Key codes can usually be found on the packaging of the key or on a key code card that comes with the key.
At Archer Lock Services, we provide a key code with every pack of keys. It is written on the back of our business card. We highly recommend you keep the business card in your wallet or at least take a picture of it with your phone.
To use a key code to get a key cut, you will need to find a locksmith, like Archer Lock Services, or a key-cutting service that has access to a key code database, most likely another locksmith. Once you have found a suitable service, you will need to provide them with your key code and they will be able to cut a new key for you based on the code.
Make sure to ask if they can cut the particular key type and key code. Some keyways are not as common as you would think and the key blank may need to be special ordered. Also, most non-locksmiths will not be able to cut keys using the key code. It’s a rather specialized service reserved to locksmiths only.
Copying keys using key impressioning
The second option for getting a key cut without the physical key is to use a key impressioning tool. Key impressioning is a technique that involves creating a new key by “impressing” the cuts onto a blank key using a special tool. To use this method, you will need to find a locksmith who is trained in key impressioning. The locksmith will place the blank key into a key impressioning tool and then insert the existing key (or a key with similar cuts) into the lock. As the existing key is turned, it will leave an impression of its cuts onto the blank key. The locksmith will then remove the blank key from the tool and use it to cut a new key based on the impressions left on the blank.
It’s worth noting that not all keys can be copied or impressioned. Some keys, such as high-security keys and keys with patented designs, may not be able to be duplicated or impressioned due to legal or technical limitations. In these cases, you may need to obtain a new key directly from the manufacturer or authorized dealer.
While this is a valid technique that all locksmiths should know, in reality, many professional locksmiths will never use this technique to create a key. While I personally enjoy the challenge of impressioning a key, it can be very time-consuming which means it is not of value to our clients.
It’s often faster and more cost-effective to replace the lock versus impressioning the key. However, for some types of locks where replacements are not readily available, impressioning may be the only way.
Finally, key impressioning is a technique often utilized by law enforcement and/or covert entry teams. Such organizations may want to copy a key to a lock without making the building occupants aware that they have a key.
There are a few other methods that you can use to get a key cut without having the physical key. These methods may not be suitable for all types of keys and may not be available in all areas, but they can be worth considering if you are unable to use one of the methods mentioned above.
Copying keys using a key decoder
Another option is to copy keys with the key is to use a key decoder tool. Key decoder tools are specialized tools that are used by locksmiths to determine the cuts on a key without having the physical key. To use a key decoder tool, the locksmith will insert the tool into the lock and then use the key decoder tool to trace the cuts on the key.
The tool will then display the key code or a diagram of the cuts on the key, which the locksmith can use to cut a new key. In the past, key decoder tools were typically only used by professional locksmiths and were not readily available to the general public. These days, anyone can buy them online.
Copying keys using a 3D printer
Another option is to use a 3D printer to create a new key. With advances in 3D printing technology, it is now possible to create a new key using a 3D printer and a digital file of the key’s design. To use this method, you will need to find a 3D printing service that has access to a digital file of the key’s design and is able to print keys. You will also need a locksmith to provide the 3D printing service with the key code or the dimensions of the key if the design is not available. The 3D printer will then create a new key based on the digital file or the provided dimensions. This method is still relatively new and may not be widely available, but it could be an option worth considering if you are unable to use any of the other methods.
As of the time of this article, there are no 3D printer services in the Vancouver area that can accomplish this task as it requires a device that can print in metal. A plastic resin key could work but it will not last long or even work once due to poor tolerances.
It’s worth noting that some of these methods may not be legal or may be considered unethical by some. It’s always important to respect the laws and regulations in your area and to act responsibly when obtaining a new key. If you are uncertain about the legality or appropriateness of a particular method, it’s always best to consult with a professional locksmith or a legal expert before proceeding.
Copying keys from a picture
In some cases, it may be possible to create a key from a picture, but it’s important to note that this is not a reliable method and may not work for all types of keys. There are several factors that can affect the accuracy and effectiveness of creating a key from a picture, including the quality of the picture, the clarity of the details on the key, and the complexity of the key’s design.
If you have a clear picture of a key and the key’s dimensions, you may be able to use a key duplication machine to create a new key based on the picture. However, it’s important to note that this method is not foolproof and the resulting key may not work properly if the picture or the key’s dimensions are not accurate or complete.
At Archer Lock Services, we have had great success copying certain types of keys from pictures. Specifically, the Weiser (WR), Kwikset (KW1), Schlage (SC) and Sargent keys from pictures. However, it truly depends on the picture quality. We recommend the photo be taken against a white background and to use the flash to eliminate as much of the shadow as possible. Also, keep the key horizontal as much as possible to aid measurements.
It is generally not recommended to try to create a key from a picture as it is not a reliable method and may result in a key that does not work properly. If you need to get a key cut and do not have the physical key, it’s usually best to try one of the other methods mentioned above, such as using a key code, a key duplication service, or key impressioning.
Final thoughts on copying keys with the physical key
Overall, there are several ways to get a key cut without the physical key, but the most appropriate method will depend on the specific type of key you have and the resources available to you. Whether you use a key code, a key duplication service, or key impressioning, it’s important to find a reputable and experienced locksmith or key cutting service to ensure that your new key is accurately and securely cut.As always, not losing your keys is the best solution. If that fails, call or text us at 604-363-2760 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for help. We would love to hear from you.