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Locksmith Tip: Impressioning Keys Trick

Impressioning is one of the most rewarding and satisfying skills in the locksmithing world today. Having the ability to take a blank key to stick it inside of a locked lock, to be able to look at the marks on the key that the wafers or pins make, and to be able to hand pile the key down to work is just a great feeling when you get it to turnover. The problem is that a lot of people struggle with impressioning. They have a challenging time telling if they are looking at a mark, some dust, or dirt. They're not quite sure, and it's easy to lose your confidence in impressioning, when you're having a hard time. Let me show you a simple technique that you can do to the key in the preparation stage of impression that will drastically improve your odds of being able to impression a key and give you confidence as we advance.

 We need to knife the key or make a sharp edge that will help us to identify when we see a mark. If you have a wheel grinder, a stationary one on a workbench that you can get this key on and just hit both sides, you can do that; it's quick. If not, use a flat or round pile. Pippin is applicable too, but it'll take you a lot longer and be more difficult.

Start piling at an angle to build up a knife's edge. You mustn't be piling straight down. Get an angle, and tilt the key like this, then start piling. Stay close to the shoulder but don't pile it. Do this on both sides.

 Impressioning key tips

how to impression key blanks

Once done, check the shoulder if you touched it, then the angles. If not sharp enough, you can pile it again. If everything looks great, take a round pile or pippin, then work on the top of the sides.

Do it a couple of times in one direction until it gets shiny so you can tell those marks. If you have a nickel-plated key, you want to remove the nickel plate.

 key impressioning

This might take a few minutes, and you could have already been impressioning by now. If you don't struggle to see the marks, you can get right into impressioning right away, but if you're struggling. You don't have very much confidence in trying to see the marks, this is where this technique will come in handy, and over time, you won't need to do this as much or as often on different types of keys.

This is what it looks like up close.

 Impression marks on key

Please put it in a lock, then move it up and down to get good impressioning marks.

 impressioning a key

This is what I got.

 Impression marks on key

That trick is going to get us set off in the right direction, and it's going to give us the confidence that we need to move forward to impression a key. I hope this knifing technique helps you. If you have other suggestions for people who might be struggling with impressioning, leave them in the comments below. I love reading those, and I appreciate you guys. Thank you, and we will see you next time!

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