How To Get A Key Made For A Lock Without The Key

by Daniel on

Most people think that in order to make a key you need to have a working key to copy. But can you make a key from a lock? The short answer is yes, but for you to know just how to get a key made for a lock without a key, you need to decide which process you will use and who will be performing the work.

Where can you go to make a key from a lock?

DIY – You can make a key yourself, but you will need a key cutter, code keys, and the proper key blank. If need be, you could do the work of a key cutter with a series of files, but this will take more focus, craft, and time. You can outsource all the work that you can’t do yourself, even if that is only a few steps in a given process or the entire process itself.

Hardware Store – There is not actually a lot that a hardware store can do for you in terms of assisting with how to make a key without a key. The most help they will offer are materials, and maybe even access to a key cutter if you have code keys they can use to make the cuts for you. Do not depend on hardware store employees for insight or knowledge gathering.

Locksmith – As long as you approach the right locksmith in Los Angeles, they will know how to make a duplicate key without the original. Just make sure that you are calling a home locksmith if you are dealing with residential locks, an auto locksmith for car locks, and an office locksmith for commercial locks.

1. Take The Lock Apart

Once the lock is removed from the door, it can be deconstructed, and the internal components can be studied. Pin tumbler locks (common in commercial and residential settings) and wafer locks (commonly used with cars) will have components that show you how deep the grooves on your key need to be.

Unless you can tell the key bitting by looking at pins/wafers, you will need to methodically file a key blank, keeping in mind the distance between grooves. If you have a set of code keys, you can check each pin with a different key to decipher the code. 

With the lock-core removed, check that the key grooves are lifting each pin/wafer to be flush against the top of the cylinder. In terms of how to get a key made for a lock without a key, this is the easiest method to do yourself.

2. Lock Impressioning

If you are looking for how to mold a key from a lock, you might be thinking of lock impressioning, though you do not actually need any molds. What you will do is use a key blank that fits in the lock as if it were the correct key. You will also need to grip the key with a hand-held vice or some other tool that allows you to provide heavy torque to the key.

You are going to be looking for marks on your key left by the pins or other internal components of a lock, so it is a good idea to make the top of your key (where the grooves will be) to have a smooth mirror finish. 

This method takes a lot of time because you are inspecting a key over and over with a magnifying glass and doing a lot of filing. If you are looking for how to make a key without a key yourself, this is something you can learn, but it is not going to be quick.

3. Decoding The Lock

Decoding is popular for automotive locks. Using special tools, called key decoders, you can get the biting information for each key groove so that you will know the exact key code for a lock. It is similarly complicated to impressioning a lock, but you will be picking the lock as you simultaneously decode it, so the lock opening will let you know that you have the right key code.

This is not something you can do yourself because it requires a very specific locksmith tool. There are a variety of these types of tools, each of which is intended for different door locks.  

The process works by tensioning and picking the lock while a numerical grid informs you of which component you have picked, and the degree to which it was raised or depressed. This information is recorded and finally translated into a key code.

4. Key Cutting From Code

Some keys, such as car keys and high-security keys, have recorded codes that can be found without an existing key. In the case of modern cars, the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) will correspond to a key code that can be put into a machine, which will cut the key without a working key to duplicate. For a high-security lock, there will be key code documentation to give your locksmith.

There is no better way of how to make a duplicate key without the original than using the code. It is even better than making a duplicate from a key because it will be the exact key, not a copy of it. There is no way to get your hands on a code cutter other than using a professional key making service, such as a locksmith in Los Angeles, or a car dealership (in the case of car keys).

5. Lock Rekeying

This is a bit of a cheat, but rekeying a lock does allow you to get a new working key for an existing lock. It will not be the same key as the key you no longer have, but it will be a key for that lock made without the old key. 

In order to get a key made for a lock without a key with rekeying, you have to get the lock open and deconstructed. Then replace the internal components with ones that correspond to the new key.

You can rekey some residential locks yourself with rekeying kits available in hardware stores, but not all home locks. There certainly are not many commercial locks you can rekey yourself, and almost no automotive locks you could do this with, without professional oversight/training. But this is a method for how to make a key without a key.

Closing Advice

How to get a key made for a lock without a key comes down to finding the proper method and the right person for the job. Often you will need a Los Angeles locksmith to help with this kind of work, and they will find the best way of making you a new key for your lock. 

If you are interested in how to make a duplicate key without the original yourself, I would strongly advise looking into all of these methods in greater detail.

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