How to use a locksmith key machine involves a brief bit of instruction on how to use the machine and a whole lot of time spent in practice using actual keys. There are various manufacturers of locksmith key making machines and the basic process is the same. You'll need a commercial key making machine and a collection of blanks to fit all makes of cars and home locks. You'll need:
- Locksmith key machine
- Metal brush polisher, usually a part of the key machine
- Key blanks
- Gloves, for those with delicate hands or manicured nails. You know who you are.
- Look over the basic machine to determine where all the parts are located. Locksmith key machines copy keys using rotary vises of various sizes, powered by engines with either direct or alternating current. Motors are sold with different voltage to power simple or heavy duty key copy action. Carbide cutters are part of the machine, as are lever handles to manipulate the action. Make sure you know where each of these parts are located before turning on the machine. Although the machine is not that big, you can still do major damage to a finger or hand in operating the machine.
- Examine the key blanks. You'll need the proper key blanks to operate the locksmith key machine. The toughest part of how to use a locksmith key machine involves selecting the correct key blank to make the replacement. Blanks must provide the proper shape, as well as the appropriate thickness. Just about or close enough won't do it when making keys. If you're going to operate a key machine store, you'll need literally bazillions of key blanks. People want keys to go, not to come back later so your shop can order a key blank.
- Put the original key in place. Each of the key machines uses a unique operation but all have the location for the old key clearly marked. It's the place where the small vice takes a key and is attached to a device that traces the key for duplicating. Screw or lock the old key in place.
- Put the blank in place. The next step is to place the key blank into the vice or clamp designed to hold the blank for cutting. This is easy to locate. It's adjacent to the cutting blade.
- Start up the machine. Locksmith key machines are either manually operated or have a motor that once the switch is flipped the machine takes over. You'll know the difference by looking at the machine's name. Automatic machines incorporate a term like "auto" some place in the title. If you're still unsure after looking at the name, set up the machine, flip the switch and stand back for at least a minute or two and wait to see what happens. Better safe than sorry!
- Put on eye gear. Don't be stupid by risking your sight. You only have two eyes and you'll be making a ton of keys once the first one is done. Put on the goggles before staring the cutting process. Women love men in professional gear, use the goggles to your advantage.
- Begin cutting the key. Use the guide located on the old key and trace the new key with the machine. The cutting blade or wheel will cut off the excess from the key blank.
- Polish the key grooves. The key to using a locksmith key machine is producing a key that works in the lock. A major problem for new keys is the excess metal left after cutting. Most locksmith key machines incorporate a wire brush wheel to clean the new key. Lightly buff off any excess metal.
- Do a visual check. Hold both keys up in a back-to-back test. They should visually look the same. Any extra grooves or additional filing on the new key won't work. If the new key looks funky, try the process again. The more keys you make, the better you'll get at using the right touch with the cutter and tracing the old key.
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