Key Copying: Everything to Know About Cutting Duplicate Keys

Fatima Buzdar

November 1, 2022

Close-up of a key being cut with a locksmith's precision using a key cutting machine. The machine's brass and steel components are visible, with the key clamped in place. The image focuses on the intricate cutting process.

We tend to take our keys for granted, even though they play a big role in our lives, security and safety. What can give a stark reminder of their importance is when you are locked out of your house and staring at your key broken in the lock of your front door, with the realization hitting you that you lack a spare key. You certainly do not have to go through such troubles in the first place, merely by ensuring that your key is working in a good condition and that you have access to at least one spare key.

Either way, this is where an expert locksmith’s key cutting and duplicate key services can benefit you greatly, which can allow you to have the key duplicated so that you always have the handy backup or let you get a new key made without the original key. But how exactly does the key duplication work? What kind of keys can be duplicated? And what other important cases can the key duplication come handy with? Read on to find out!

When You Would Need to Have a Key Copy

The key duplication is undoubtedly one of the most essential locking services. There are various reasons that can leave you in need of them, and an expert locksmith can satisfy these needs.

Key Has Been Lost

Losing your key can be very distressing, especially when you lack a spare key. In the worst case scenario, you can get locked out of your house. You would need to have a new key cut promptly so that you can regain access to your house. A key duplication service is the solution to it, although it would be a bit complicated procedure due to you not having the access to the key.

However, keep in mind that if your key was stolen, then rather than looking into getting a new key cut, it is extremely important to rekey the lock to protect your property so that the person who stole them is not able to access your property. This is a highly essential safety and security measure that you absolutely should not neglect.

Key Has Broken Down

A key breaking off in lock is definitely another case that would leave you with a deep sign. Again, this situation is exacerbated with the lack of a spare key. What can be even worse is the broken key half getting stuck in the lock, which is something a locksmith also can help with alongside duplicating the key.

Key Seems to Be in a Bad Condition

Over time and usage, the key can get bent. If you notice that your key does not seem to work properly when trying to open the lock, e.g. it gets stuck in the lock, does not move around properly, no longer properly fits in the lock, etc. even when the lock is in fine condition, then it is likely the time to replace your key before it gives you an unpleasant surprise.

No Spare Key

As you may have noticed in the aforementioned cases, it is always best to have a spare key in case your current key gives out on you. It is a reliable backup that can save you from a lot of panic and trouble. If you do not have a spare key, then a locksmith can duplicate your key for you.

You would also need one or multiple spare keys if you would like to give access to your family or friends. This is another case in which key duplication would help you.

A person holding two keys

Can Any Key Be Duplicated?

You might be wondering if it is possible for any key to be duplicated and what the process of getting key duplication services may be. This is going to vary somewhat based on whether you have a non-restricted key, “Do Not Duplicate” key or patented key.

Non-Restricted Keys

These are typical keys that come with absolutely no disclaimer, as the most would be in residential uses. A locksmith would honor the request of duplicating a non-restricted key without concerns raised or any questions asked.

“Do Not Duplicate” Keys

Many people may opt to keys with “Do Not Duplicate” engraved upon them in order to have the security of disallowing the unauthorized duplication of keys. This is especially common in commercial settings. However, contrary to common belief, “Do Not Duplicate” keys are not legally binding. This disclaimer merely holds its place as a deterrent suggestion, rather than a legal warning.

This means that nobody is legally required to honor the warning. While certain locksmiths and chain hardware stores reject the request or express reluctance in providing the key cutting services for this case, it is easy to find the means to have the key duplicated without posing any law violations.

Even with the locksmiths who want to abide the warning due to policy obligations and liability concerns, they may be willing to duplicate the key if you are able to prove your authorization and ownership over the key.

Patented Keys

Also known as restricted keys, these are the keys that are backed with actual, robust restriction against key duplication. As indicated by their name, the patented keys are legally protected and backed by a patent. The re-distribution of these keys is safeguarded by the manufacturer through holding the patent, and only the manufacturer and authorized locksmiths can copy the keys.

The manufacturer would also require explicit permission from the authorized key owner to give the authorization. Doing so without the manufacturer’s permission infringes the patent law, and no professional locksmith would want to risk legal repercussions for copying the key without authorization.

So yes, the process of duplicating a patented key is undoubtedly a bit more complicated. However, you do not have to stress yet! Simply get in touch with the manufacturer regarding the duplication of the key, given that you are the authorized owner of the key. They cab help you sort your situation out. 

How Are the New Keys Duplicated?

Most typically, a key duplicator machine is utilized to easily duplicate a key by locksmiths. There is a wide range of these machines available. However, how they all function is by tracing the original key to use it as a template for the duplicate key.

The original key and a blank key are placed on two vices that face each other, aligned to each other by a machinery tool. A blade then cuts into the blank key, while tracing the original key. This process is much speedier than you may expect; it tends to be a matter of under one minute!

Key duplicator machine being used to duplicate a key

Can Keys Be Duplicated Without the Original Key?

The key duplicator would require access to a working, original key. But what if your key is damaged? Or you have lost the original key? You may be surprised to learn that yes, it is in fact possible for an expert locksmith to craft a whole new key even without the aid of an original key!

This is possible thanks to an advanced locksmith technique called impressioning. In this procedure, a key blank, which is an uncut key, is inserted into the lock. It is then manipulated so that it gets impressions left upon it through the pins inside the lock. Throughout the process, the key blank is constantly filed to properly shape the key. After some iteration of this process, the final outcome would be a duplicate key successfully crafted.

Call a Locksmith to Get Your Key Duplicate Cut Now!

Whether you want to have a spare key as a backup, need one or more keys for your friends or family, or have to replace a key, the key duplication is exactly the solution you need. The process is generally much less complicated and speedier than you may expect, and it can promptly save you from your current trouble and inconvenience, or prevent various problems in the future.

Your best bet to turn to in this case is an expert locksmith’s key cutting services. With our experience of over 5 years of providing excellent lock and key services to residents, you can trust in our Oakville locksmiths to satisfy that need optimally. We can promptly duplicate your key to give you a spare key. We can also craft a whole new key even if you do not have access to your original working key!

Safeguard your property with our expert locksmith solutions. Get in touch with our approachable, knowledgeable team.