Where’s a good place to get blanks to practice with? : Locksmith

Note: I am not a locksmith and don’t even pretend to be one, but I’m fascinated by the mechanical aspects of lock mechanisms. I’ve learned how to pick some simple locks reliably, and now I want to learn how to make keys.

Many moons ago I had a friend who was a retired locksmith, he made a spare key for my car for me by eyeballing my old key and using a hand clipper to make the new key, that blew my mind pretty thoroughly. I’ve looked for one of those key clippers, but they’re rare and expensive, or at least more than I can afford, so I got a Lishi clipper to play with. The main elements of making a good key seem to be making sure that the distance from the shoulder to each notch is accurate, and the depth of each notch is appropriate for the pin at that location. The Lishi has markings for depth but not location, so I want to practice using it to make keys to see if I can develop that as a usable skill.

That brings me to my question here, namely, where’s a good place to get blanks in bulk to practice with? I see that I can get 50 Kwikset blanks for less than $20 shipped off of the ‘bay, is that about as good as it gets? Would it make sense to approach my local locksmiths to get cheap blanks? Ideally they’d be Kwikset just so that I can test my practice keys in an actual lock, and I have plenty of Kwikset lock cylinders laying around to use for that purpose.

I have made a key before, for my motorcycle. I picked the helmet lock and disassembled it, measured the wafers and wafer spacing, then hand-filed a key that worked moderately well. It took me all day to file that key, and it was complicated by the fact that Kawasaki uses both tip and shoulder stopping because the gas lid only uses the end 5 notches on the key.

I’d appreciate any advice!

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