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A customer hands you a key to duplicate; you look at it, look at the profile, and figure out what key you need to duplicate it with. Line it up, maybe on the tip stop, maybe on the shoulder, you make sure that there's enough blade to be cut, and then you cut the key. Give the key to the customer, and get a phone call that it doesn't work. Every once in a while, it's going to be because you miscut it, and that's just a fact of life. It does happen even to the best of us. However, that's not the case this time; you get the key back, trace it, and see that it is perfect. What could the problem be?
Let's pretend that a customer comes in with the RV key, FIC3, and you look on your wall then decided to use the FIC1 key. You look at the profiles, if the profile is perfect, you check the shoulders, and if it looks great too, you go ahead and duplicate the key.
But the real problem here of what you're going to face is right in front of you, and that is if the blade of the key is long enough to clear what it needs to clear to turn in the lock.
As you can see, although the FIC1 and the FIC3 key have the same profile and shoulder stop location, the FIC3 key blade is much longer than the FIC1 key. So, you don't need to stock the FIC1 keys anymore; you need to store the FIC3 keys.
The answer to this problem is to ensure clearance between where the blade is and where the head is.
There were instances where an equal shoulder stop can go into the lock, the spot stop, and sometimes can get away. However, sometimes the key goes in just a little further, or there's a stop around the lock that does not allow the key to turning. And that's what you need to pay attention to.
HOW TO FIX THE PROBLEM
If you run into this problem, the quick way to fix it is to line the two keys, shoulder to shoulder, grab a fine-tipped sharpie, and trace the original key. What you're going to do is to go to a bench grinder and grind away spaces outside the mark, then get it to work.
The best way is always to find the right key. But if you run into situations where you can't, you have to modify the key.
But the bigger thing is to make sure that when trying to find keys, look for the clearance, the profile, and make sure that there's enough blade on the key so you can duplicate it. From then, do a quick check to ensure that there's enough clearance between the blade and the head of the key. That will avoid the problem and the customer calling and saying that the key doesn't turn because it doesn't clear the lock.
While we're at it, another thing you want to pay attention to is how long the millings are on the keys; because sometimes it's not milled far enough, resulting in the key failing to work.
There you have it; make sure you always check for the length of the entire blade and head clearance. I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below. Thank you, and we'll see you next time.