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Key Cutting: You Questions Answered

Whether you're moving home, welcoming a new flatmate or need a spare key, you'll require the services of a key-cutting service. Key cutting is a process that exactly replicates a key. Armour Locksmith is one of Galway's longest-established key-cutting companies. While having a key cut is something almost everyone will need to do at some stage in their life, there still needs to be more knowledge of how this process works. To make this information easier to find, we have compiled some of the most common questions below.

What is key cutting?

Key cutting is creating a duplicate or replacement key for a lock. It involves shaping a blank key to match the configuration and specifications of an existing key or lock. Locksmiths like Armour Locksmiths commonly perform key-cutting.

The key-cutting process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Assessing the original key: The locksmith or key cutter examines the actual key to determine its shape, size, and any special features or notches it may have.

  2. Selecting a blank key: A blank key is chosen that matches the type of key being duplicated. Blanks are usually available in various sizes and profiles to fit different lock types.

  3. Tracing of coding: The locksmith may use a mechanical key duplicator or a computerised key-cutting machine to trace the contours of the original key or input its specific code. This information is used to guide the cutting process.

  4. Cutting the key: The key cutter uses specialised cutting tools or machines to shape the blank key according to the traced pattern or code. This involves removing excess metal from the blank and creating the necessary grooves and notches to match the original key.

  5. Testing and fine-tuning: Once the key is cut, it is tested in the corresponding lock to ensure it operates smoothly and successfully engages the lock mechanism. Further adjustments or refinements may be made to ensure proper functionality if needed.

How long does key cutting take?

The time it takes to cut a key can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the key, the type of key-cutting equipment being used, and the skill of the person cutting the key. Basic key cutting can be done relatively quickly, usually within a few minutes. However, more complex keys, such as those with intricate designs or specialised security features, may require additional time and precision.

If you're getting a key cut at a locksmith or a key-cutting service, they will typically give you an estimate of how long it will take based on the specific key you need. It's always a good idea to check with the service provider beforehand for an accurate time frame.

Which keys Cannot be copied?

While most standard keys can be duplicated easily, certain types of keys have additional security measures and restrictions to prevent unauthorised duplication. These keys are typically designed to enhance security and protect against unauthorised access. Some examples of keys that cannot be easily copied include:

  1. Restricted Keys: These keys are commonly used in high-security environments such as government facilities, commercial buildings, or restricted areas. They require special authorisation, and key duplication is tightly controlled. Usually, only authorised locksmiths or key manufacturers with the proper approval can copy these keys.

  2. Laser-cut Keys: Laser-cut keys, also known as sidewinder or internal cut keys, are commonly used in modern vehicles. They have complex, precise cuts that are only possible with specialised equipment. These keys often require programming to work with the vehicle's immobiliser system, making duplication more complicated.

  3. High-Security Keys: High-security keys, such as those using systems like Medeco or Mul-T-Lock, employ advanced designs and technologies to enhance resistance against picking and unauthorised duplication. These keys often have patented keyways, specialised key blanks, and intricate mechanisms, making them easier to copy with proper authorisation.

  4. Electronic Keys: Electronic keys, including key fobs or transponder keys used in cars and access control systems, have embedded electronic components that communicate with the vehicle or lock. Duplication typically involves programming the key to match the specific system, which requires specialised equipment and knowledge.

Does key cutting damage the original key?

Key cutting, when performed correctly, should not damage the original key. The process involves duplicating the shape and profile of the original key onto a blank key without affecting the original key's integrity.

Skilled locksmiths or key cutters use specialised tools and machines designed for key cutting to ensure accuracy and precision. These tools are designed to remove small amounts of metal from the blank key to match the cuts of the original key. The actual key is used as a template or reference to guide the cutting process.

However, it is worth noting that in rare cases, if the key-cutting process is performed incorrectly or with low-quality equipment, there is a slight risk of damaging the original key. This can happen if the key is not securely clamped during cutting, resulting in improper alignment or excessive material removal. We only use the best equipment, and the expertise of our teams means we never damage your keys.

Do you need a key cut or have more questions about the key-cutting Galway process? Please visit our Galway store or call us directly.

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