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Machinist's Workshop

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CNC Workshop 2016

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Creative Solutions in the Shop: Keys

Dummy Keys
by James W. Hauser

From the moment I bought my home in Las Vegas, I had persisting problems with the front door locks. Strong winds blow sand and other grit into the lock, which gunks it up and wears it down.

The locks had gotten bad recently so I finally had to replace them, but this wearing problem stayed on my mind – I had to do something to prevent it from happening again. PhotoInstead of installing little covers over the locks, which seemed like too much work, I decided to make dummy keys that remain in the locks until I need to unlock the door.

PhotoThe idea is to modify an old or blank key so it will fit in the keyhole, but not turn the lock. Clamp the key blank in a vise and remove the cuts on the key with an end mill.

Now my locks will last longer in the desert wind. I admit removing the dummy keys before inserting the real key is a chore, but we don’t use the front door all that much and have gotten used to it.


Extra Padlock Keys – Making Them Fit
by Mark Jachniewicz

Padlocks come standard with only two keys. I had an imported (made in China) padlock for which I needed more keys, so I went to a locksmith to have extras made. The problem was the new keys did not fit into the lock!

PhotoAfter examining the cuts on the new copies, I concluded everything looked exactly the same as the original key. Then I used a micrometer to measure the thickness and I noticed the manufacturer’s key was thinner by about 1/64”.

My solution: flatten the new key with a 1” fine file. First, secure the base of the key tightly in a vise. File about 20 seconds on each side and try it in the lock after a few careful passes.

The new key now works perfectly – and it only took a minute to fix!

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