Key Cutting Service: What to know

Woman customer talking to keymaker or locksmith in his shop about key cutting service

From starting up a car to opening your home, keys play a significant role in our day-to-day lives. So, who do we turn to when we need these essential items? The answer: locksmith and key cutting services.


How are keys made?

Professional worker performing key cutting service on laser machine at workshop

Keys are cut with what is called a key duplicator machine. An original key is placed in a vice on one side of the machine. It is aligned with the duplicator’s cutting tool while a blank key is placed in a vice on the side of the machine with an alignment tool. The duplicator’s key guide, or alignment bar, ensures the original and blank keys are lined up perfectly with each other before the cutting process begins.
The duplicator is turned on, and the keys move horizontally across the machine. The cutting tool begins cutting into the blank key using the original as a guide or template. Once cut, a lock technician will sand the newly created key for a nice, smooth finish.



Why a Key Cutting Service Can Fail

One reason key cutting services fail is due to low-quality or incorrect cutting. When having a key made, examine the valleys to ensure they are the same depth. Also, verify the lengths of the grooves and shoulders match up evenly with the original key. Another common failure is using the incorrect blank. Keys typically have a number on the head, and it’s essential to match this number with the one on the original key. For car keys, it takes a particular type of blank, and it’s necessary to know the make and model of the car when creating a duplicate.
A key cutting service can also fail because it uses a damaged original key. An exact duplicate can be impossible if the original key is rusted, bent, or has any other type of damage. Lastly, a key cutting service can fail because it uses a previously copied key. After too many duplications, usually five, keys can start to pick up flaws. The more imperfections, the less likely a new copy will work.

Types of Key Cutting Services


Self-service kiosks are the most popular type of key cutting service. Grocery and hardware stores often have them in-store, but they are not overly reliable. These keys may work fine when new, but there are no assurances on their durability or performance over time.

Box Store:

Box stores such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot are relatively cheap and quick for their key-cutting service. However, fast and affordable does not always translate to high quality. Some stores are capable of cutting keys themselves. Their employees may know how to use the duplicator machine, but that doesn’t mean they have enough experience to perform the process correctly. Not understanding the nuances of the appliance or how to ensure keys are aligned can cause issues.

Professional Locksmith:

If you want the key cutting service done right, put your trust in true locksmith professionals that are knowledgeable and understand the importance of a reliable key.

What to Look for in Key Cutting Service

One young man, professional key cutting service, making door keys copies in locksmith.

Services Offered:

As a general rule, the more services offered, the more experienced the key cutter. Services such as standard key cutting, rekeying and cutting car, smart, and program chip keys often signify an experienced professional.

Documented Credentials:

As with plenty of professions, licenses are given in the locksmith industry. For example, locksmiths certified by the ALOA must demonstrate a superior degree of professional knowledge and skill. Most states that license locksmiths require a criminal background inspection and professional certification.


Appropriate Documentation:

It helps to verify the price estimate provided to you by the locksmith before they complete any work. Always come to an understanding of price before paying, or work begins. Some locksmiths may ask for identification and request you fill out an authorization form. They do this to confirm you are the property or car owner, which is a sign of a true professional.

What to Avoid:

Be wary of no-name companies or a lack of branding on uniforms and vehicles. If a locksmith shows up in an unmarked truck claiming to be from a generic-named company, you could be falling victim to a scam. Also, try to avoid suspiciously low prices. Some locksmiths advertise low prices, then price gouge once they arrive.


Why Choose A&B

A&B Security Group‘s professional technicians have assisted the Las Vegas community for 33 years. We know just how essential locks are in our everyday life and how hard it can be to find a reliable, trustworthy locksmith. Our mission is to provide Las Vegas with the highest quality locksmithing services imaginable, and we’re here to help anytime, anywhere.