How to Use a Key Cutting Machine

By Amanda Dickerson

Updated September 26, 2017

At one time, making duplicate keys required hand grinding or filing a key blank. The method was difficult to master, and only a locksmith could do the job accurately. Today's technology makes creating a duplicate key quick and cost-effective. Hardware stores are now equiped with automatic or semiautomatic key-cutting machines, which are able to follow the shape of the teeth along the key while grinding the blanks into precise copies.

Insert the original key in the vice with the teeth facing upward.

Insert the blank key into the second vice, where the cutting blade is located.

Close the protective cover and activate the machine. The micrometer will trace the original key. It automatically controls the angles and depth of the high-speed cobalt blade.

Once the duplication is complete, turn off the machine and remove both keys. Use the high-speed wire brush to polish off any rough edges or spurs.

Place the new key and the original against each other and compare. They should be an identical match. If not, another key may need to be cut.

Items you will need

  • Key-cutting machine

  • Original key

  • Key blank