Introduction: Easy Way to Copy a Key.

Picture of Easy Way to Copy a Key.

If you are like me and have a bunch of unused old keys somewhere in your home this trick could come in handy.

Today i was going to copy a key with my dremel like tool  so i put 2 keys in the vice.
It was a real pain in the vice ;) to get them to align properly, and I trimmed to much of the copied key down.

So i aligned the keys(the original on the a bit larger similar type of a key) on the table,  took a spray paint , and sprayed from the 90° angle on them.

So you need:

1.A blank key or a bit larger but similar key with the same profile type.
2.Spray paint. (You will remove it from the original while it`s still fresh.)
3.Any  fine grinding tool and a vice/vise.

Step 1: Painting

Picture of Painting

Paint over the aligned keys (original key up) at an 90°angle.
Clean the original key, and put the copy in the vice.There`s no need for waiting on the paint to dry off.

Step 2: Grinding

Picture of Grinding

Grind the colored part down.

Step 3: Try the Finished Key!

Picture of Try the Finished Key!


JeffC104 (author)2016-01-24

Just use a tin can, easier to file down take that to a locksmith and bam done

dpina (author)2011-10-06

Where do you get the blanks?

aristide202 (author)dpina2013-02-10

I got a big bunch of keys too. As i changed locks for some reason I kept all keys on a project of melting up the whole stuff but the idea that keys may be nickel plated (aren't they ?) kept me from puttting them all in the crucible .

Tkdwn (author)dpina2011-10-07

I don`t ! But thay would work to :)

rgershey (author)2011-10-07

Hey everybody. What you're using to hold the key is a VISE. You all know what VICES are - but this is not the place to discuss those ;-)

aristide202 (author)rgershey2013-02-10

why not ? What about using a vice-vise, does anyone have one in the garage?

meat bingo (author)rgershey2011-10-07

depends if your a 'merikan

Tkdwn (author)rgershey2011-10-07

Well I blame the Google for translating to the non American version :P

Hippymike96 (author)2012-01-28

You know you could go to home depot and make a key in less than 3 min and for $1

MicioGatta (author)2012-01-13

Great idea, thanks!

slumdweller2 (author)2011-10-06

if you're going to go through all that effort, why not just make a bump key ?

First thing I thought too. Now that we know who the criminals are.... haha ;)

chamunks (author)Applejackson2011-11-24

See reference Defcon13 game: Spot the fed 

curvy77 (author)chamunks2011-12-07

seems easier to just cast a copy

jack8559 (author)2011-10-11

If you have a machinist's tool called a scribe, you can also scratch a line on the larger key instead of painting it making the overspray a thing of the past - no imperfections as long as you hold the scribe at the correct angle all the time. The closer that you keep the keys together the better, hence the vise like you used!

Tim Temple (author)2011-10-06

Some used chewing gum would help keep them aligned as you put them in the vice...

Tkdwn (author)Tim Temple2011-10-06

Tnx, but i`m puting only the copy in the vice from now on :)

AbnerStinqort (author)Tkdwn2011-10-07

I'm not the Spelling Police, but the word you should be using is "vise." "Vice" is violation of accepted morals (to some people!)

Beenay25 (author)AbnerStinqort2011-10-07

The spelling depends if you're American or not... :P

AbnerStinqort (author)Beenay252011-10-07

Ohhhh... like "wrench" and "spanner?" ;-)

Beenay25 (author)AbnerStinqort2011-10-07

Yeah... and tomato tomato...
dammit... :-P

petemwaugh (author)Beenay252011-10-10


Tkdwn (author)AbnerStinqort2011-10-07

Dude! :)

mole1 (author)2011-10-10

I really like the idea of not damaging the original. It lets anyone try it with no risk.

bubbaclaw (author)2011-10-08

Cool Instructable. *Gives you a thumbs-up*

DDRAMbo (author)2011-10-07

Before you got this idea, why were you collecting old keys?

Tkdwn (author)DDRAMbo2011-10-07

Sometimes the keys fit without the mod.

DDRAMbo (author)Tkdwn2011-10-07

OMG, are you the Keymaker from Matrix - Reloaded? jk

Tkdwn (author)DDRAMbo2011-10-07

Oh, yes. It is true. The Keymaker. Of course. But this is not a reason. This is not a "why". The Keymaker himself - his very nature is a means. It is not an end. And so to look for him is to be looking for a means to do... what?

wanna beco (author)2011-10-07

I would have never thought of this... it's awesome... I have a bajillion old keys around!!

lcherry (author)2011-10-06

What kind of dremel tip did you use?

Tkdwn (author)lcherry2011-10-07

I did not use dremel tips its a diamond coated tip from a Einhell multitool set.
The one in this pict.

retrotimelord (author)2011-10-03

you can use a file right ?

if you had enough patience, you would get a more precise key than if you used a dremel, the dremel is just for speed.

Tkdwn (author)retrotimelord2011-10-04

:) Sure!

LesB (author)2011-10-06

Or -- instead of doing this you could remove the tumbler from the lock, remove all the pins and reinstall the tumbler. The one time I did this I didn't have any problem with unauthorized access. However I probably wouldn't do this with a lock securing the crown jewels.

dangerine (author)2011-10-06


Logicsama (author)2011-10-06

Ah, an intelligent instructable! :D Nice one.

four2x4 (author)2011-10-06

Nice idea, in a pinch, if you cannot get to a place to have one made. Otherwise, the cost to have a key made is pretty cheap!

Kalyfrans (author)four2x42011-10-06

It's also an "exact science." Many times the keys ground on high dollar machines don't work. I managed a 300 unit apartment complex and we made our own keys. At times it was unexplainable why a copy wouldn't work.. This is a novel idea though.....good for retired people!

Tkdwn (author)four2x42011-10-06

Yeah, but it was even cheaper and less time consuming for me, and it was fun to try.

Kalyfrans (author)2011-10-06

The only problem I see is that you wear out $3 worth of Dremel bits for a 99 cent key!

Tkdwn (author)Kalyfrans2011-10-06

Don`t know about dremel bits, my are diamond coated :P
And you can use a file. :)

escher7 (author)2011-10-03

The key profile matching is not the only requirement. The cuttings on the key that you are filing must have all cuts higher than the original. Otherwise you would have to add material which is pretty difficult.

verence (author)2011-10-01

Shouldn't you first make sure that both keys have the same profile cross-cut-wise?

If they have a different profile, your replacement key could not be inserted in the lock at all.

So as step 1, make sure that the replacement key can be inserted into the lock in question. It will not be able to be turned and open it, but that's what your I'ble takes care of.

Tkdwn (author)verence2011-10-01

Yeah , it`s an important hint! TNX!

TheHawkeye (author)Tkdwn2011-10-03

Great idea though! Subtraction is a very important technique with CADD.

Scott_Tx (author)2011-10-03

lowers the risk of damaging your original key too

rimar2000 (author)2011-10-02

Clever! Thanks for sharing.

Tkdwn (author)rimar20002011-10-02

Thank you for the comment !:)

About This Instructable




Bio: Electronics geek, Openwrt, Linux, hardware hacker, maker, SF fan.
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