Worn out keys. Aren’t they great? I’ve copied a few keys that I was surprised the customer brought in. Keys that you would think shouldn’t even work. Now, I get how keys and locks wear out together, since they are soft brass. But what do you do when a customer brings in an old-shitty key and wants something new keyed to that?
I had a guy today who wanted two rekeyable padlocks keyed to his own key. The key was super worn. I gauged it and got the bitting. When I keyed up the cylinder and tried it out, the damn thing wouldn’t unlock. So I quickly grabbed another lock, stole the cylinder from it, and tried the next size up pin. Just by looking at it, I could tell it wasn’t going unlock with the customers key. Luckily, one of our experienced technicians came back from a job. He had two recommendations: cut a new key by code or file down the wrong sized puns.
I really wanted to cut the customer a new key by code but I would have had to charge him for that. And I’m guessing that this new key wouldn’t work in the 4 old padlocks he was using. So I didn’t think that was a good solution. I decided to file down the bigger pins.
When I did this, I felt like a real locksmith. I tested the locks and they worked pretty well. Not smoothly like butter, as if everything was new, but they locked and unlocked with only the slightest catch. Even though I felt like a real locksmith doing this, I couldn’t help but doubt what I did. I swear I’ve read on here that only schmucks file down pins though…
So, what do you do in a situation like this? I kind of feel like filing down the pins was the only option. There is no way that the customer was going to get the other 4 old padlocks and put new pins in there to fit a cut-by-code key, even if it would have been (in my mind) the best solution. I imagine I would have had to charge him for the new key and 4x rekeying fees. But what could I do?
The attached picture is one of the worn keys I have duplicated. I made a copy of it for my workbench just so j could look at it and laugh. The customer from today, his key wasn’t nearly as worn as this key, but still worn enough to cause problems.
No promises that it will work!