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Have you ever been staring at a core or a cylinder, not having a clue of what key blank it takes? Maybe you don't even know where to start, or even if you have the key available. Well, my name is PJ at CLKsupplies. And I'm going to show you a couple of tips that are going to help you to be able to identify which key blank you need. Let's get started. 

I will be using the SFIC best cylinders as an example because they're one of the most difficult ones to identify when they're sitting at the door. So to do that, I first want to go over some basic principles that you're going to be able to use when trying to figure this out. Even if you never touch SFIC cores, and that doesn't interest you, the principles I'm going to be going over apply to everything, so don't let the example here throw you off that it can't be helpful because it can be. 

 Identifying a keyway


So the first thing I want to talk about is the Ilco book here. The JMA book you can use as well, really any of the key bit blank directories you can use. I'm going to go to the best section because that's what we're going to be going over here and whenever you look at the keys, can you see all the groove sitting here on the page. There's always a little confusion about this, and many people think that when you look at the groove, can we turn it sideways. So you can see here when you look at this groove here, and you look at a key, a lot of times, people want to compare the groove that they see in the picture here to the groove they're looking at down the keyway profile like this. Alright, so there's the key, put it up like this, and you start to compare. The problem is that's not how these images are shown. It's going to be the reverse.

 key blank directory

How are these images shown? It would be this if you were to take the key and put it down on the profile to see if that works. So that's how you need to be reading these catalogs.

 identifying keys

Why is this important to you? The best part about this is that when you look at this keyway profile, it's the same as looking at the cylinder and looking down at the profile because it will exactly match what you see looking at the actual profile on the cylinder. So that's what's super helpful. I hope you understand that when you're looking at this profile is going to be the same as looking at a cylinder. So if you find yourself looking at any lock cylinder, get the book out and start to compare the profiles because you're going to get far by just doing that.

 keyway identification tips


Is what I want to do is I want to take it even a step further, and we're going to be using the best SFIC here as an example. In the notes below, you're going to find a link to a document you can download. It's going to look just like this one and is what I've done for the SFIC is I've taken all of the keyways here, and I've listed them based on the top right groove angle. As you can see, it's a bit picture right here; this is what I'm talking about. And you can see if you can see them all listed here, and then the W series down here. Now I'm doing this because this is one of the harder ones to identify. However, if you use the principle I'm going to be going over here, it will help you identify all sorts of keyways based on looking at the profile on the actual plug of the cylinder.

 SFIC Keyway Chart

So if you look at the top right groove, you don't have to use this method. However, you want to use this same principle, so you might want to take the bottom angle or something on the left, you can use anything, but I prefer to use the top right. So what I've done here is I've taken all of the angles, and I've divided them into three categories, a major angle, a minor angle, and then more of a flat. This isn't an exact science by any stretch of the imagination, but you're going to get somewhere really quickly by doing it this way.

 SFIC Keyway Chart

So what I did here is I grabbed a couple of keyways, and now, what we want to do is look at that top right angle. We're looking at the one we're looking at that the first major angle on the top right. And this one right here is flat. Okay, so this one looks very flat to me. So is what we do here is what I'm going to do is you can pull this up, and you'll see the flat ones listed right here, and then this one is I'm going to do I want to work down. I want to work down the right side, and then we'll go over to the left is how I like to do it. So what I want to do here, and we want to see the characteristics of what we have going on here. So as you can see, right here in this one, it has a couple of different tiny grooves sticking out on the right. There's one right underneath that flat one here.

 Quickly identify a keyway using SFIC Keyway Chart

Limit your options by eliminating the ones that don't even look anything close to it. Then narrow it down to a few of them by going to the left side and looking at the gap at the very bottom. That little gap, as you can see, you know, some of them are similar, but like this one here, it starts to change a little bit. This helps to get a good grip. So once you get a good development there, you can almost already see right now just by looking at it that it will be the M, the L, or the J.

 SFIC Keyway Chart

Once we have that figured out, I want to go to the left side and look at the grooves, and is what you're going to see is it almost looks like part of a tree on the left side with the bottom part more significant. So if I were to block that off right there, hold up the shapes like that, they start to look quite a bit different.

 Keyway idendification

So when you start looking at it, you can see without a doubt, I know it's going to be this J keyway. That's an accurate basic rundown on how to do that.

 1A1K1 key identification

Let me go and grab another cylinder here, a more basic one. So this one has a very slight minor angle on the top right, so we know it's going to be one of these.

 identify a keyway

Once again, what I'm going to do is I'm going to kind of look at it, and there's not any extra bump, so there's only one bump sticking out of it, and then it comes back in but not very big either. So just by going there, we can tell, I can tell it's not the A, and it's not any of these TA's or T's over here. It narrows down to a couple of different ones. Eliminate those with a big bottom gap because we are looking for a part of a Christmas tree sticking out. So if I hold those up, you can see that this is a tiny one, so we know this will be an E cylinder.

 SFIC Keyway Chart

Let's do one more. All right, so if you look at this one here, we can see that this has a major angle in it. We can see it as a major angle, so we go up here to the major angle.

 SFIC Keyway Chart

Once we're here, I want to look at the bottom right and see what kind of gap I have here between the bottom of the keyway and where that angle comes. We are looking for a very, very small angle. So that narrows down, it's not going to be the B, and it's either going to be the D, DD, or the G.

 SFIC Keyway Chart

So I'm going to go to the other side once again and look at the little part of the Christmas tree sticking out. Of course, you might imagine it differently, but that's just how I have always come to do it. So by looking at them here, I can tell due to the little piece sticking out that it will be this D. Alright, because of the little groove on the ankle.

 SFIC Keyway Chart

So that's how you figure it out. That's how you want to start looking at the angles. If you're working on the SFIC, download this document and help kind of get to the bottom of it. But you can use the same principles when trying to find any key for any keyway by doing this. 

Well, I hope that these tips helped. Make sure you download the PDF document. I'd love to know what you think or if you have any extra tips that can help to identify which keyway it is. Thank you, and we'll see you next time. 

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