There are a few different ways that key cutting services are rendered from a locksmith. At the very simplest, key cutting is the process of taking an existing key and creating a duplicate key by tracing the same lines with a commercial key making machine. These key machines have been around for a long time and even home improvement stores, hardware stores and some department stores have key cutting services that can duplicate a key. They even make them as stand-alone kiosks where you insert money and your key and you get a duplicate made.
Of course, with modern computer technology came many changes in the locksmith industry. The way that keys are cut is different now than they have been in decades past, and for many keys, just cutting isn’t going to be enough. There are smart locks in most of the newest cars, and even on some locks for homes and businesses. This means that even if you have a cut key that is identical to the original it will not unlock the door, because there is more than just a specific set of tumblers that you have to move in just the right way to open the lock.
Today, key cutting is done with a combination of computer technology and laser cutting techniques. Locksmiths may not even have to have your original car key for them to be able to create a duplicate for you and keys are made much faster today than they have been in the past. For the most part, those days of watching the key person at the local hardware store shave off bits of metal until the key that you are getting a duplicate from is identical with the new one.
Today, keys are cut with laser precision, and often are creating using templates that anyone but a locksmith and your vehicle dealership will not have access to, depending upon the type of key that you need. For basic key cutting however, the price hasn’t increased much, even if the technology has.
One thing that you want to keep in mind when it comes to making replacement keys for vehicles is that modern cars just cannot have a key cut and then the vehicle will start. That’s because of a new technology being included on all modern vehicles (in some countries, like Canada, included by law) that prevent or reduce car theft considerably. This ‘immobilizer’ key technology will not allow your motor to turn over if the proper key is not communicating with the computer inside of your vehicle. That means that a key to your car is worthless without the proper programming, even if it is physically identical to the original.
Fast and inexpensive key cutting is definitely a service that makes locksmiths more desirable and they can usually have it done for you in just a few minutes. In addition, a locksmith is much more skilled than the guy down at your local hardware store – who may have only been trained just recently on the key machine – so you can be sure your key will work.