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What are the uses of depth keys?

Information on Locksmith training, certification, licensing, and operating a business.

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What are the uses of depth keys?

Postby WOT » Sat Mar 22, 2008 10:05 am

Looking in Schlage catalog, you can buy a set of official depth keys for $30.

Who uses 'em? I'd think real locksmiths would have at least one real code machine and real novice hobbyists file their own keys.

What are the uses of depth keys other than originating keys by code on a duplicator?
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Postby Eyes_Only » Sat Mar 22, 2008 11:36 am

I keep a set of Schlage and Kwikset depth in my van cos sometimes the customer has lost the keys to their home and they need me to make the original key rather than re-keying it for whatever reason. For times like this I take the lock apart till I have just the plug with the pins in them and start inserting each depth keys until I see each pin flush with the plug. Then I write down the cuts that seemed to work and cut a new key by that code I derived.
If a lock is a puzzle, then its key is the complete picture
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Postby WOT » Sat Mar 22, 2008 5:29 pm

Eyes_Only wrote:I keep a set of Schlage and Kwikset depth in my van cos sometimes the customer has lost the keys to their home and they need me to make the original key rather than re-keying it for whatever reason. For times like this I take the lock apart till I have just the plug with the pins in them and start inserting each depth keys until I see each pin flush with the plug. Then I write down the cuts that seemed to work and cut a new key by that code I derived.


But for the rare occasion you deal with this, isn't a code book + caliper be better option?
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Postby Eyes_Only » Sat Mar 22, 2008 7:32 pm

It could be but for me this method feels faster. I don't have to take out any pins or measure them individually, just five or six keys in and out and you've decoded the lock. Time is money.
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Postby freakparade3 » Sat Mar 22, 2008 9:26 pm

WOT wrote:
Eyes_Only wrote:I keep a set of Schlage and Kwikset depth in my van cos sometimes the customer has lost the keys to their home and they need me to make the original key rather than re-keying it for whatever reason. For times like this I take the lock apart till I have just the plug with the pins in them and start inserting each depth keys until I see each pin flush with the plug. Then I write down the cuts that seemed to work and cut a new key by that code I derived.


But for the rare occasion you deal with this, isn't a code book + caliper be better option?


What do you mean by code book? Code books do not have the cuts for basic pin tumbler locks in them. Alot of locksmiths use depth keys to cut with. They are accurate and much faster than manually reseting the space and depth on manual code machines. Depth keys can also come in hande for impressioning. Mark the key and then use the depth keys to ccut down one depth each time. Much better than using a file for those who are not good at impressioning.
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Postby WOT » Sat Mar 22, 2008 9:55 pm

freakparade3 wrote:
WOT wrote:
Eyes_Only wrote:I keep a set of Schlage and Kwikset depth in my van cos sometimes the customer has lost the keys to their home and they need me to make the original key rather than re-keying it for whatever reason. For times like this I take the lock apart till I have just the plug with the pins in them and start inserting each depth keys until I see each pin flush with the plug. Then I write down the cuts that seemed to work and cut a new key by that code I derived.


But for the rare occasion you deal with this, isn't a code book + caliper be better option?


What do you mean by code book? Code books do not have the cuts for basic pin tumbler locks in them. Alot of locksmiths use depth keys to cut with. They are accurate and much faster than manually reseting the space and depth on manual code machines. Depth keys can also come in hande for impressioning. Mark the key and then use the depth keys to ccut down one depth each time. Much better than using a file for those who are not good at impressioning.


I thought that's what Pak-a-Punch is for?
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Postby Eyes_Only » Sat Mar 22, 2008 10:29 pm

I hate that thing. The die on that stupid thing slips and often you don't get a very accurately cut key. I should learn to be for familiar with it in case my HPC 1200 breaks down but I really feel amaturish when using that for work. If its for use at home I would be ok with it though.
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Postby freakparade3 » Sat Mar 22, 2008 10:30 pm

Depth keys are just another option, I'm very good with a pippen file so I don't use depth keys for impressioning, some do with good results.
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Postby Abus » Fri Mar 28, 2008 7:51 am

Hardware and buildng supply stores near me love them, not the national chains like home depot, but the local guys. Since they have a duplicator, and virtually nothing else, they use them to make accurate copies of worn keys, and to key up locks to sell, typically to contractors or builders.

Last I knew, one place even does masterkeying on demand, etc, using them. Although that would be a royal pain, even the occasional larger job may be lucrative to them, especially if their selling a lot of the other materials for a complete package job. I know for certain that they did an apartment building that must have had 30 or more locks this way.

Schlage at least used to also sell a pick kit, which I think was just relabeled HPC for these sorts of applications. Mostly used to repin existing locks.
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Postby Raccoon » Wed Apr 02, 2008 4:48 am

Remember that a key originating code machine is very expensive. The lower end models cost $2500 and up, $1900 for something spartan. So depth/spacer keys and pre-cuts are sometimes the only option for a start-up locksmith.
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Re: What are the uses of depth keys?

Postby marginal » Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:44 pm

I was wondering whether there are high security D&S keys ???
Like sidewinder and / or dimple ...
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Re: What are the uses of depth keys?

Postby Eyes_Only » Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:07 pm

There are H/S depth and space keys for cars. Most are ok to use but some types like for both old and new Lexus I've heard they can be difficult to use. And in another example with the VW internal 2-track key, if you use s/d keys to originate a new key from scratch it looks nothing like the key that was cut on a computerized H/S code machine, like a tad bit uglier. But those machines are extremely expensive usually.

But if you're looking for a code machine that cuts standard keys with the convenience of no electric power being needed, you can get a HPC 1200 Punch machine for anywhere around $1700 to $1300 if new. Even less if you can buy a used one from a private seller. I like mines better than the pak-a-punch, much bigger than the pak-a-punch but still very portable.

It has some limitations like the cut area not coming out with a smooth and a clean flat finish like it would if you used a 1200 Blitz or similar milling code cutter that would make impressioning easier but it's not that bad of a trade off IMO. And it probably won't cut as wide a variety of keys as a milling code cutter can but I've known some locksmiths that use only the Punch Machine for work without that really being a major problem.
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Re: What are the uses of depth keys?

Postby marginal » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:11 am

Thank you Eyes_Only.

I am starting in that business now and try to learn as much as I can.
I bought the pak-a-punch, but have not used it yet, it is quite limited as it punches only keys for the American cars.
My aim is @ the H/S keys, for the regular ones I even have a partner who owns a Ilco 029 key by code machine.
Anyways, I have a plan to make my own D&S H/S keys.
Yesterday I was looking @ my Volvo 850 GLT 1997 #S66NN-P key Image and @ the bitting specifications for that specific model Image and told myself I can make them !!!
It is even more convenient as I will use both sides of the key for different depths, for instance I'll use one side for number one depth, the other for number two, on the second key it will be number three and four respectively ...
How about it ???

Thanks.
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Re:

Postby ElAbogado » Tue Jan 05, 2010 1:09 am

freakparade3 wrote:
WOT wrote:
Eyes_Only wrote:I keep a set of Schlage and Kwikset depth in my van cos sometimes the customer has lost the keys to their home and they need me to make the original key rather than re-keying it for whatever reason. For times like this I take the lock apart till I have just the plug with the pins in them and start inserting each depth keys until I see each pin flush with the plug. Then I write down the cuts that seemed to work and cut a new key by that code I derived.


Depth keys can also come in hande for impressioning. Mark the key and then use the depth keys to ccut down one depth each time. Much better than using a file for those who are not good at impressioning.


I actually used to use a Curtis Model 15 code clipper to impression the old Ford 5 pin tumbler locks, much the same way you describe above. I may have to try what you said, just to see how it works. Never too old to learn something new.
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Re: What are the uses of depth keys?

Postby ElAbogado » Tue Jan 05, 2010 1:11 am

marginal wrote:Thank you Eyes_Only.

I am starting in that business now and try to learn as much as I can.
I bought the pak-a-punch, but have not used it yet, it is quite limited as it punches only keys for the American cars.
My aim is @ the H/S keys, for the regular ones I even have a partner who owns a Ilco 029 key by code machine.
Anyways, I have a plan to make my own D&S H/S keys.
Yesterday I was looking @ my Volvo 850 GLT 1997 #S66NN-P key Image and @ the bitting specifications for that specific model Image and told myself I can make them !!!
It is even more convenient as I will use both sides of the key for different depths, for instance I'll use one side for number one depth, the other for number two, on the second key it will be number three and four respectively ...
How about it ???

Thanks.


In theory it may sound feasible, but in reality, how are you going to make the angled transitions from one depth to the next? What you will have is a key that looks like dashes at various positions because the spacing is not correct.

Enlighten me please.
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