Have you ever thought of how to duplicate keys by hand but didn’t have any idea how to do it? If so, then you’ve come to the right place!
In this article:
- Make Your Own Keys
- The Longer & Traditional Method
- The Quick Hack Methods
Tips and Tricks to Easily Duplicate Keys by Hand
Make Your Own Keys
It may be a bit troublesome to have the keys to your house and other locks duplicated by a locksmith. Not to mention the cost of having one made.
If you want to save a few bucks and have the time for a hobby, then you can start this one. That’s why we make sure we have key organizers or key holders to reduce the chances of losing them.
Moving forward, with the right tools and a lot of patience, here are a few tips and tricks to create keys on your own without using a key duplicating machine. You could hardly distinguish your work with a duplicate key made by a locksmith.
The Longer & Traditional Method
Tools needed are blank keys, a hand file, a vice and of course the original key.
Step 1: Clamp and Align
Clamp duplicate and original keys side by side using the vice.
You have to make sure the keys are properly aligned with each other. Then tighten the vice.
Step 2: Start Filing
With the use of the hand file, you can begin filing down on the blank key starting with the highest point of the original key, down to the valleys. You will have to be really patient during this process because you might destroy the original key.
A smaller hand file would definitely come in handy when you get to valleys. Make sure both keys are still properly aligned during the process.
Step 3: Test It
When you have filed the blank keys as close to the original try testing it. It may take a couple of more finishing touches if it still doesn’t work smoothly.
You can compare the copy with the original one and file the flaws
The Quick Hack Methods
Hack #1: Heat It Up or Pen It Out
Tools Needed Are:
- Clear tape
- Tin can lid/piece of plastic bottle or plastic card
- Sharp scissors or xacto knife
- Flathead screwdriver
Step 1: Place the Original Key Over a Flame
Place the original key over a flame until it creates a black coating on the surface. You can set it down and let it cool black side up.
You can also use a marker for this method.
Step 2: Use Clear Tape
Place a clear tape (sticky side) on top of the black coating covered key part once it's cool enough. Then remove the tape carefully and you will see a black coating on the tape.
It will have to be an exact copy after that.
Step 3: Stick It
Choose a lid from a can of food, a plastic bottle or plastic card. Then stick the tape on the surface.
Step 4: Cut It Out
Using the tape with soot as an outline carefully cut out the metal can, a piece of a plastic bottle, or plastic card with a piece of sharp scissors or a xacto knife. Be accurate on the edges of the key to make it work.
What Is a Xacto Knife? A type of utility knife capable of the most accurate and sharpest cut for a certain craft.
When done, hold it up against the original then cut out any overlapping flaws.
Step 5: Test and Support
Test and support the duplicate key with a flat screwdriver so it won’t break. It will also be easier to twist the drum bolt around.
It may take a bit of wiggling but if it’s cut out correctly, it will definitely work.
Hack #2: Take a Picture of the Key
Materials Needed to Duplicate Keys Are:
- Camera or cellphone camera
- Piece of paper
- Sharp scissors
- Lid of a food can, piece of a plastic bottle, ruler, or plastic cards
Step 1: Take a Photo of the Key
Take a photo of the key. If you can’t bring the key with you when you print it out make sure to place a coin beside the key.
Then print it out.
Step 2: Upload and Print
Upload the image on your computer then make a printout. Measure the printout with the actual key or coin.
Resize the photo until you get the exact measurement using the key or the coin.
Step 3: Cut and Stick
Cut it out then using a clear tape stick it on a metal can lid, piece of a plastic bottle or plastic card. Then follow steps 4 to 6 from Hack #1.
Hack #3: Mold It
Materials Needed Are:
- Part 1 & 2 mold solution
- Part 3 (hardener) mold solution
- Low melting point metal ingots
- Casting ladle
- Butane gas torch
- Tubular plastic container
- Key to be duplicated
Step 1: Mix Molding Solution
First, mix mold solution 1& 2 plastic tubular container. When done, mix the hardener (mold solution 3).
You have under a minute to set the key in the mold after mixing all three solutions.
Step 2: Insert the Key and Let It Dry
Insert the key in the mixture. Align it as straight as possible with the sides of the container.
Lift it once to prevent air bubbles then insert again. You can use a key holder to make it stable.
Let it dry for 5 – 10 minutes. When it’s ready, push the mold out from the bottom with your finger.
Step 3: Cut the Mold Open
Cut the mold open on one side with a xacto knife or cutter, preferably the solid part. Be careful not to cut the important parts of the mold.
Then open the cut part and remove the key. Cut the hollow top portion of the mold making it funnel-like.
Step 4: Heat Metal Ingot and Pour in Casting Mold
Place the mold back into the tubular plastic container. Place the metal ingot in the casting ladle then start heating it up with the butane gas torch until it melts.
When it is in liquid form, immediately pour it into the mold. Tap the mold to avoid air bubbles.
Step 5: Remove and Test
Let it cool down for a few moments then start removing the mold and then test if it works. If steps are followed correctly, you will have an exact mold copy of your key, be it your car key, house key, or even restricted keys to access your property.
Here is a video posted by Jake’s Workshop on how to make a 3D printed key using a 3D printer:
Remember to duplicate the keys you own and those that unlock your property only. You can duplicate someone else keys as long as they are aware of it.
Overall, this is a good way to be productive in your downtime and save a few bucks altogether. You’ll never know, locksmithing might just become your hobby.
Was this article helpful in your desire to duplicate keys? Please let us know in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on February 22, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.