Keys - Non-Ace was RE: ACE Key codes (xx2247 etc.)

Fred Cisin cisin at
Thu Feb 25 19:50:24 CST 2016

On Thu, 25 Feb 2016, Jay West wrote:
> They must have some "internal representation" of a key such that a key (any
> key, any size, including car keys that are those "grooves") can be stored
> "digitally" and downloaded. I wonder if similar art exists such that we
> could store "whatever is necessary" to reproduce keys other than ACE ones
> (rack cabinets, etc.). It would have to be something that can be presented
> to a locksmith to make...
> Just a thought...

Asking a locksmith to cut a key from information is called "code cutting". 
Some municipalities have restrictions on it, ranging from no restrictions 
to outright ban, or requiring the locksmith to keep on file the identity 
of who requested a key, and/or "proof" of ownership of the lock 
(physically bringing it in, letter on company letterhead, etc.)

The information for code cutting is straight-forward.

Which blank.
Usually done by pre-made blanks, in specific sizes and milling.
A machinist certaily COULD mill a new blank, or modify a thicker one, but 
I don't know anybody who does that, since even "restricted" keyblanks are 
not generally hard to come by.

How far each cut is from the stop (less commonly (such as Best) indexed 
from tip) 4, 5, 6, or 7 cuts.   Standardized by manufacturers for each 

How deep each cut is.  Most will have 7 to 10 different depths that are 
used, identified by a digit that can then be looked up in manufacturer's 
"depth and spacingg" database (readily available to locksmiths) to find 
how deep the cut should be.  Some number from 0, some from 1

For example:
Schlage SC1 7 4 1 3 7
would be a Schlage SC1 blank, with cuts of Schlage standard #7 depth, #4 
depth, #1 depth, #3 depth, #7 depth

SOME manufacturers, such as Schlage, will stamp the depth numbers on the 
bow of the key.  Some don't.  Some obfuscate the numbers, for example, in 
the 1970s, Honda would reverse the sequence, and a 75132 would be a key 
with depths of 2 3 1 5 7 (almost as obscure as ROT-13!)
Many companies stamp a semi-unique number that has no algorithmic 
relationship to the depths, but instead is used to look up the depths in a 
"Code Book" (MOST of which are readily available to locksmiths).  For 
example, XX2065 does not tell the cuts, BUT, looking it up in the 
appropriate code book tells the cuts (1353757)
Code books, either dead-tree or digital are ogften available on eBay.

SOME times, the number is stamped on the lock.  For example, the key code 
number for one car is on a paper sticker inside the glove compartment 
(Datsun 300SX), on another, it is stamped on the side of the lock cylinder 
inside the passenger side door.

An image of sufficient clarity to be able to identify which blank, and to 
determine WHICH depths of the cuts is enough to make a key.  Rememeber, 
you don't need to MEASURE from the picture, just enough to decide whether 
it is a 3 cut or a 4 cut.

Back when I was working on cars, customers would often drop off a car 
before opening time, and forget to leave the key, or lock it in the car. 
Rather than open the car without the key (pretty easy) to retrieve the key 
or pick the ignition lock, I could call the customer and have them read 
the number on their other key (or see the key sitting on the seat and read 
the number through the window!), and simply cut a new key for them.  Not 
only would it sive time, it would usually fit better than their currently 
WORN key.

A competent locksmith can tell what blank, and the list of cuts from a 
quick glance at a key.

Therefore, the database should identify the key blank, the key number (if 
there is one), and the cuts of the keys (in case code-book is not readily 
available).  If depth and spacing data for that company and blank are not 
readily available, then it should also list the physical depth of each 
cut, and the space/distance from the stop for each cut.

I'm sure that there are some machines and some companies where each 
key/lock is different, either originally or rekeyed as a security upgrade. 
But most computers go their whole lives with whatever default key was 
initially installed.  By analogy: what is the default password?
How many machines use XX2247?

Code cutting calls for a calibrated key cutting machine.  There is one 
that is made out a Unimat, and there are squeeze handle hand held ones, 
used for automotive keys.
OR a key duplicator, plus a key with the right spacing, and a key that has 
a 1 cut, a key that has a 2 cut, a key with a 3 cut, etc.  Called a "set 
of depth and space keys".
Some modern cars use a "laser-cut" key.  There ain't no laser.  It's just 
a side-cutting mill with a pantograph.

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