Are you looking for a key cutting service?
Whether you’ve lost or misplaced the keys to your home or business or you require spare keys for your property, there are many locksmiths in the UK that can provide you with a replacement or duplicate key.
Here are some key takeaways:
- Key cutting is the process of duplicating a key using a template (original) key.
- The most common types of keys in the UK are standard, Euro cylinder, oval, safe, garage door, patio door, window, security, filing cabinet, and office keys.
- The cost to duplicate a key varies depending on the type of key, but it typically costs between £4 and £30.
- The time it takes to cut a key varies depending on the type of key, but it typically takes between 5 and 60 minutes.
- A locksmith can cut most types of keys, but for highly specialised keys, you may need to contact a specialist.
Key duplication and creating new keys is one of the core services offered by locksmiths.
This page will answer the following questions:
- What types of keys can a locksmith cut and how is it done?
- How much does it cost to cut a key and how long will it take?
Below we’ve put together a general overview of key cutting and key duplication, including answers to some of these most frequently asked questions.
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Table of contents:
What is key cutting?
Key cutting is a method of duplicating keys whereby a key blank is machined to the exact dimensions of a template (original) key, using manual, semi-automatic, or automatic processes.
In other words, it is the process of copying a key for your property either to be used as a spare key or as a new original.
This means that in some circumstances, a key can be cut of a broken original key as well.
There are many methods of duplicating keys, but cutting remains the most popular amongst locksmiths in the UK as it is generally fairly straightforward and affordable.
Most residential locksmiths can duplicate keys from their van whilst you wait at home, and most locksmiths with a physical shop location can cut keys on-site.
The different types of keys
Just as there are many types of lock, there are also many types of key commonly used in the UK. Keep in mind that we will only consider physical keys below.
Standard and mortice keys
One of the most common types of key used for house front and back doors is a standard “Chubb Key" profile which are slightly elongated keys that fit into narrow keyhole profiles (escutcheons).
Euro cylinder keys
Most Euro cylinder locks use standard “Yale Key" profiles as shown (as a key blank) in the above photo. Yale Keys are common in commercial applications, such as retail shops and offices, but they are also becoming quite common in residential properties as well.
Somewhat common in older homes, oval key cylinders have been largely superceded by Euro cylinders. The types of keys compatible with oval cylinders are similar to those most commonly used for Euro cylinder keys, i.e. Yale Keys.
Safe keys are much more complex than the above key types, safe keys can sometimes be single bitted or double bitted (the “teeth" and notches in the key), which require additional time and skill to duplicate.
Garage door keys
Keys for most garage doors can vary substantially in shape and size, from Yale Keys to similar designs to tubular key designs.
Patio door keys
Similarly, patio door keys can vary in design like garage door keys.
Many UPVC window keys use prongs whilst others use more traditional single or double-bitted key designs.
Owing to their name, security keys such as Ultion keys tend to be far more challenging to duplicate and in many cases can only be duplicated with proper authorisation or from the factory of the key/lock manufacturer.
Filing cabinet keys
Most filing cabinets use simple single or double bitted keys which fit into a small, rectangular-shaped escutcheon.
Keys used in offices can vary widely depending on their function and application. Yale Keys are common for doors, as are security keys and mortice lock keys, while smaller keys may be used in filing cabinets or workstation drawers, for example.
Make a key copy near me: The duplication process
Key duplication was first mechanised in 1917, and since then the basic technology has remained the same.
Although there are many modern keys that require more advanced tools and many key duplication machines are now semi-automatic or fully automatic, just about every locksmith in the UK will be familiar with manual key duplication using a dual key cutter for cylinder and mortice locks.
Cutting is the primary method used for key duplication. Below is a brief explanation of the process:
- The template (original) key is inserted into a vise along with an appropriate blank (new, uncut) key, separated but held parallel to the template.
- The machine guide follows the contours of the template whilst cutting the corresponding shape from the blank.
- The duplicated key must then be deburred with a bench grinder or a wire brush.
Keys duplicated through this cutting process are identical duplicates to the template, which can be a problem if the template has any imperfections such as wear and tear.
For this reason, alternative methods are sometimes employed which create a duplicate that can be better than the original if the original has been broken or is worn out.
Laser cutting and computerised methods of cutting (sometimes including creating new) keys are sometimes used, but cutting remains the predominant method followed by punching.
Most locksmiths in the UK use various machines in order to duplicate the many different types of keys commonly used in homes and commercial settings.
How much do keys cost to cut?
The cost to duplicate a key in the UK depends on many variables, but expect to pay anywhere from around £4 for most common house keys to upwards of £30 for more complex keys.
The general prices for key duplication are as follows:
Cost of cutting keys: General prices
Standard UPVC window, door, and mortice locks that use simple Yale or Chubb Keys generally cost around £4 to £5 to duplicate.
Security and safe keys
Security keys and single bitted safe keys will generally cost around £10 to duplicate.
Double bitted safe keys
More complex double bitted safe keys can cost upwards of £30 to duplicate.
Also keep in mind that these prices are just for the key itself; the price of labour and emergency lockouts, as well as your location, will certainly increase the price.
How long does key cutting take?
Provided that your locksmith has the appropriate machinery to duplicate your key, as well as authorisation to cut the key (as required), the approximate time it takes to duplicate a key is:
- Standard keys: around 5 minutes.
- Security & safe keys: up to 15 minutes.
- Double bitted safe keys: up to an hour.
Key duplication codes
As mentioned, one of the most time-consuming tasks for key duplication is identifying the correct type of blank key to use as a duplicate.
There are many different non-standard keys that may take longer to identify.
More standardised keys often have a duplication code that is helpful to a locksmith to identify the correct type of blank key to use.
Keys with duplication codes sometimes have the corresponding code stamped directly onto the key itself, whilst others have the key duplication code stamped on the lock, e.g. office and filing cabinet keys.
Many high-security residential and commercial front door keys come with a key code provided on a card. Most standard and lower quality house keys do not come with a key code anywhere.
Most keys are made of steel, brass, plated brass, or nickel silver. These latter ‘soft’ metals have a tendency to wear out over time and with use, and the most common place for them to snap or break is inside of the lock cylinder.
Although it is often quite easy to push a broken key through the cylinder to open the door, removing it often requires great skill (although the process is simple for a qualified locksmith).
A hook or harpoon tool is used to push up the tumbler pins and extract the key from the cylinder.
If your key has broken inside of the lock, a locksmith can help extract the broken pieces and in most cases duplicate a replacement - even if the key is broken in a few pieces.
Creating new keys
Depending on the type of key, a locksmith can create a new duplicate key without the original on hand.
A skilled locksmith may be able to create a duplicate key just from a photograph of the original.
Key cutting near me: Who can cut keys?
It is possible to duplicate keys yourself at some shops using a fully-automated key duplicator, but in most circumstances it is safer, faster, and easier to leave the job to a qualified locksmith.
This is true for many standard Yale and Chubb keys for house and business front doors, but it is especially important to consider calling a skilled locksmith for more complex keys such as safe keys or security keys.
Keys that are stamped with “Do not duplicate" or “Do not copy" can be copied by a skilled locksmith, although a reputable locksmith will need to ensure that you have the proper authorisation to do so.
Patented keys or keys containing microchips or other high security features may be far more challenging to duplicate and may void the warranty of your locks.
Moreover, some keys may be illegal to duplicate unless the locksmith has a licensing agreement with the key’s original manufacturer and/or a letter of authorisation.
Key cutting service near me: FAQs
What is key cutting and why do I need it?
If ever you need to have a spare key created or an original key made for your home or business, you will most likely require a locksmith to cut the key to the exact specifications of the lock.
For high-security keys and safe and vault keys, the job should always be left to a qualified and experienced locksmith.
How long does key cutting near me take?
Depending on the complexity of the key, whether or not an original key template is available, and the skill and equipment of the locksmith, key cutting might only take a couple of minutes, while highly complex keys may take around an hour or longer.
What types of keys can be cut?
Generally, professional locksmiths in the UK are skilled and equipped to cut keys for the vast majority of homes, businesses, padlocks, safes and vaults, cabinets, and more.
For highly specialised keys, such as antique keys or digital keys, alternative methods may be required.
What information do I need to provide to get a key cut?
To have a key cut to fit a lock, you will need to acquire some information first.
Most importantly, you need to know which type of key is required, the type and brand of the corresponding lock, and the key code (often stamped onto the key).
A skilled locksmith can do all of this on your behalf, thereby minimising the time and effort required whilst also ensuring that the key will be precisely cut to fit your lock.
Is key cutting expensive?
Key cutting tends to be one of the more affordable services offered by locksmiths in the UK. The cost of acquiring blank key templates is minimal, so most of the cost can be attributed to labour and overhead.
Key cutting usually only takes about 20-30 minutes maximum, but it is important that your keys are cut precisely to fit your lock.
How do I find a reliable locksmith in the UK for key cutting services?
It is quite easy to find a locksmith in the UK that provides key cutting services, as it’s one of the most basic services they provide.
Unfortunately, finding a genuine and trustworthy locksmith can be challenging as the industry is unregulated.
Consequently, we recommend that you choose a local locksmith near you by using the Rated Locksmiths platform.
Key cutting services UK: Finding the best
Here are some closing thoughts:
- It is important to use a qualified locksmith to cut your keys.
- Some keys cannot be duplicated, such as patented keys or keys that contain microchips.
- If you need a key cut for a high-security lock, you will need to provide the locksmith with the original key or a key code.
- If you have lost your keys, you should contact a locksmith as soon as possible to have new keys made.
If you need duplicate keys for your home or business, start using Rated Locksmiths today.
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