Time to dig out some of my DEC XX2247 keys

Fred Cisin cisin at xenosoft.com
Thu Jul 16 11:47:07 CDT 2015

On Wed, 15 Jul 2015, jwsmobile wrote:
> Stamp sets are 10 or 20 bucks @ harbor freight.  But that isn't the problem. 

How hard is it to set up a CNC mill to engrave letters and numbers?
BUT, being DEC, what FONT should be used?

> I found a grumpy old locksmith (not Fred) who told me the state of the 
> problem at least for the state of California. Locksmiths by and large are 
> licensed to open doors if they have the appropriate authority to do so, etc.

1) Some municipalities limit code-cutting and making a key for a keyless 
lock.  The premise is that somebody who comes in the door with a piece of 
paper that says "XX2247" might not be an authorized holder of that key. 
One town here requires bringing in the lock.  Another wants the lock, ID, 
and a request "ON LETTERHEAD".   How hard is it to create staionery?
Reputable locksmiths will refuse to duplicate a key that is stamped "DO 
NOT DUPLICATE" without through proof that you are the rightful owner; 
hardware stores require that there be a piece of masking tape over that 
Some areas are more uptight than others.

2) Some manufacturers do not want third party code cutting, and do not 
release code books.  In fact SOME third party code books are even compiled 
by data collected from locksmith users who measure the cuts ("decode") 
whichever keys they come across.
Some, such as Medeco? and Abloy? would prefer to have the customer provide 
their serial number to the manufacturer to order a key.   Toyota does that 
on their "LASER!" keys (which do NOT require a laser to cut, and my 
originals show machining marks, not laser burns)

3) not all locks/keys are stamped with their codes.  Sometimes the code is 
algorithmically generated, such as being the sequence of cuts IN REVERSE 
ORDER (why not upgrade to ROT-13?)   On cars, for example, the code for 
all of the locks in the car may only be stamped on one lock (inside 
passenger door?), on a little piece of paper in the glovebox (Nissan Z), 

> For the keys, lock and key sets for this sort of key are restricted by the 
> manufacturer to be only made for the lock by the manufacturer.  They don't 
> have the key blanks.

4) Some key blanks are very limited in their distribution by the 
manufacturer.  BEST did not want other manufacturers making keys with the 
same milling as theirs (both anti-competition, AND security of the lock), 
so they tried to PATENT their millings.  Didn't work, but did seriously 
limit the availability of blanks for their "PKS" keyways.
ACE (tubular) key blanks are NOT at all hard to come by.  I would have 
doubts about any locksmith who can't cut ACE keys! 
The local Home Depot has cleared out the selection of key blanks, and 
filled the entire board with an amazing variety of novelty bows and 
colors, but only Schlage "C" keyway and Kwikset "KW1".  They do not have 
Ace keys blanks.

Yes, it is not a major feat to make a key blank, but few will do so.
It takes a little bit of competence with a milling machine (or a lathe for 
tubular keys)
BTW, for "mirror image" keyways, are longer blanks available? (6 pin in a 
5 pin keyway, etc.)  Cut off the bow, and turn it around, . . .

5) A key cutting machine is a triangle file, spinning grinding wheel, or 
anvil clipper.  For an Ace key, it is a drill press with end-mill.  For 
automotive "LASER!" cut keys, it is side-mill.  When I bought my new car, 
instead of hundreds of dollars and "special order" waits at the dealer, I 
bought a handful of blanks on eBay.  The local competent locksmith had a 
"sidewinder" machine but no blanks.  He was quite happy to cut a few keys 
in exchange for a few extra blanks, and my over hundred dollar three to 
six week special order keys ended up costing me a couple of dollars each.

For automotive use, prior to the current fancy ass keys, the basic tool 
was the Curtis Clipper, which with various carriages and cams could cut 
almost any.  I don't know why they never released housekey cams and 
carriages for it.
At one time, there was a commercial code cutting key machine that was a 
converted Unimat!
For Ace keys, the most common cutter looks like a sewing machine motor 
horizontal drill press, but there is also the Herty-Gerty which is a 
handheld that looks like a windup music box, and the Pocket-Cut-Up, which 
looks like a miniature Curta Calculator
It is not uncommon for cutting Ace keys to decode the original, and then 
cut the duplicate by code.

6) Duplicating a key is obviously trivial, although with a sufficient lack 
of skill, it is easy to produce ones that aren't accurate enough to work.
Cutting a key from code requires the code (stamped on the lock, on a 
broken key, on a key held by somebody elsewhere with a phone), a code 
book, a code cutting machine, but even less skill.
Making a key for a lock WITHOUT an original nor code, requires skill.
Many locksmiths don't have the skill, can't do it quickly enough to make 
money, don't think that they can charge enough to make it worth while, 
etc.   It can be done by impression cutting, or disassembling the lock.
Often the lock needs to be picked open first.   It is usually cheaper 
to simply buy a new lock.

Grumpy Ol' Fred

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