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Buying a Used Key Cutting Machine | Buyer's Guide

Used Key Cutting Machines, I'm guessing that you want to cut some keys if you're looking for one. However, if you don't know what to look for, you can most definitely find yourself with a 30 to 40-pound paperweight that's not going to cut keys and probably doesn't look pretty. With that said, let's go over the three things that you need to know to make a good decision.

New machines are great, and we sell new key machines. So, if you'd like to buy one, we'd like to sell one too. Go ahead and contact us. However, I completely understand that sometimes buying a new key machine is not always the best option for you.


In a standard key duplicator, you're going to have two different types of jaws. You're going to have a two-way jaw and a four-way jaw.


That means how many options are available on the jaw. A two-way jaw has two different options to grip the key, and a four-way jaw has four options that you can choose from to cut.

Two or three decades ago, a two-way jaw was standard and acceptable. So, if you're looking at an ancient machine, it's probably going to have two-way jaws on it, and there's a lot of limitations with two-way jaws—a lot of double-sided keys, a bunch of different RV keys. If you can picture in your mind any key that has deep grooves and a lot of different grooves in it, the odds of that key being able to be duplicated with a two-way jaw are not very significant.


But, if there's a four-way jaw, and it has four options, you're going to be really up to date when it comes to the jaws.



This is the most wearable part of a key machine, and if the cutter is dull or is missing a bunch of teeth, it's not going to be of much use to you.


Lookout at the cutter wheel if it is still in good shape; more importantly, can you get a replacement cutting wheel?

Check the link for a PDF document by Ilco that you can download. It essentially lists every aftermarket key cutting wheel available, and it gives you all the dimensions. So, when you go to look at a used key machine, you're going to want to take this with you, take some calipers, and you're going to want to honestly check that cutter wheel because buying a used key machine with a broken or dull cutter wheel will not cut many keys. A big waste of money.


Note: The tracer, the part that traces the existing key, I've never found it worth trying to replace some random tracer. Maybe you'll get something to work, but it never felt worth it. Concentrate on the cutter wheel because you can constantly adjust the tracers to work.



You can have a good cutter wheel, four-way jaws, yet you put the keys in, cut it, and it doesn't work. That's because the jaws might be a little tweaked and not straight. This is a problem that is not going to be worth fixing on a used key machine for the most part. It's way too much hassle to get it perfect, and in my experience, it can be nearly impossible.

Test the straightness of the jaws by cutting two standard KW1 keys or SC1 keys. One on the side of the tracer and one on the side of the cutter.


By doing this, you're going to find if the machine is calibrated, but most importantly, even if it's not calibrated, is it making an even cut across the key. In other words, if one side doesn't cut the key at all and then further down an inch to the right, it's cutting into the blank, that means the jaws are not perfectly aligned with each other, and it's a machine you want to pass on.



If you plan to cut automotive keys like remote head keys and transponder keys, you need to ensure that there's enough distance between the jaws to cut up. So, when you're looking at a key machine, make sure you bring a Chrysler remote head key with you or at least plan on a good two and a half to three inches between the jaws. 


There you have it. I hope this information will help you make the best decision possible when it comes to investing in a used key cutting machine. I would love to know if you think I left anything out. Comment it on our video and make sure you include the #LockBoss to automatically get entered in to win one of five free prizes we give away every week on YouTube. Thank you, and we'll see you next time.

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