A guide to key cutting services

A guide to key cutting services

From forgetting your key and getting yourself locked out to misplacing your key whilst away for the weekend. Maybe you just need a spare key cutting in case you find yourself in either of these situations.

Key cutting services provided by a locksmith are an essential service.

However, what does this actually involve?

LockShop Direct have put together this simple guide to key cutting services.

What are the different types of keys?

Firstly, here’s a quick look at some of the keys locksmiths regularly work with.

Cylinder keys

These are probably the most recognised type of key in the UK, usually used for domestic front and back doors.

The way they work is simple – when these keys are turned in their lock, they pull on a cam which in turn pulls on the bolt, allowing the door to open.

High security keys

High security keys work within high security locks. These locks work in a similar way to their cylinder counterpart, however they often incorporate rods and plates to ensure an extra level of security.

An increasingly popular option in both homes and offices, high security keys can only be cut by authorised dealers and they require proof of property ownership. They’re usually cut to a specific code to ensure exact precision.

Mortice keys

Traced back as far as the 17th century, mortice lock and keys are commonly used in older homes.

They now tend to be used in internal doors and garden sheds with more secure locks and keys being used in external doors. Because this is a slightly larger key, it can take a little bit longer to cut than your typical cylinder key.

How are keys cut?

The key cutting process is usually quite simple.

However, the process used, and amount of time it takes, depends on one critical thing:

Do you have the original key?

Having the original key makes the whole key cutting process much quicker.

Your key will usually be cut using a machine called a duplicator.

Your original key is placed in a clamp on one side, with a blank key placed on the other. An alignment tool then traces your original key. This alignment tool has a cutting blade on the other end, which cuts into the blank key as your original is traced, creating an exact replica.

What if you don’t have the original key?

If you’ve lost the original key, don’t worry – experienced locksmiths should still be able to provide you with a new one.

Some keys, usually for lockers and furniture pieces, have codes on them. This will allow your locksmith to identify the type of key needed and create a replacement.

If your lock doesn’t have a code, your locksmith may be able to create a key after inspecting the cylinder. However, this isn’t always the quickest or most cost effective option as it can take slightly more time and labour.

But, while it’s possible to create a replica key without the original, it might not be the best option.

If you’ve lost your key, especially if it identifies where you live, it might be a better idea to get your locks changed for security and to get a few spare keys cut just in case.

How much do key cutting services cost?

The cost of getting your key cut varies depending on the type of key you need cutting. Window keys are the cheapest to get cut, followed by cylinder keys.

If you don’t have your original key to hand ready to be duplicated, the process may cost more as a lot more labour goes into originating a key.

Prices also vary between locksmiths. Most trustworthy locksmiths are transparent about their pricing, so make sure to research your local locksmiths.

Usually, you can expect to pay between £5 and £10 for a front door key.

Choosing your locksmith

Hopefully now that you understand the process, you’ll be able to approach your locksmith knowing exactly what you require.

When choosing your locksmith, it’s advised you make sure they’re approved by the Master Locksmith Association (MLA). This ensures any work carried out is to the highest standard.

You can find your nearest MLA approved locksmith on the MLA website. Most approved locksmiths also share their membership number online, however if you’re unsure, make sure to ask.