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Rekeying Locks Choosing between OEM and Universal Pinning Kits

When it comes to rekeying locks, one of the most common questions locksmiths ask is whether to use OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) pinning kits or universal pinning kits. This question is crucial for those striving for efficiency and reliability in their work. In this blog, we'll break down the differences between these kits and provide you with the insights you need to make the best choice.

Universal Pinning Kits: Versatility and Cost-Effectiveness

Universal pinning kits are highly popular among locksmiths for several reasons:

  • Compatibility: Universal pinning kits work with almost every standard lock type, except for Kwikset pins. They come in two types: 0.003-inch increment kits and 0.005-inch increment kits. The 0.003-inch kits are generally preferred due to their finer increments, allowing for more precise adjustments.
  • Diameter: These kits typically include pins with a 0.115-inch diameter, making them suitable for most locks using this pin size.
  • Cost: Universal pinning kits are generally less expensive than OEM kits. The pins themselves cost about half as much, making them a budget-friendly option.
  • Flexibility: The smaller increments (0.003-inch) are ideal for dealing with miscut or worn keys, giving locksmiths the ability to fine-tune pin lengths.

When to Choose OEM Pinning Kits

While universal pinning kits are versatile and economical, there are specific situations where OEM pinning kits are the better choice:

  • Key Blank Material: If you're using nickel-silver key blanks, it's best to use nickel-silver pins, which are not available in universal pinning kits. For instance, Schlage key blanks are often nickel-silver, and using matching pins helps prevent wear and tear.
  • Precision Fit: OEM pins match the manufacturer's specifications exactly. For example, Kwikset's number 1 bottom pin has a length of 0.172 inches, whereas a universal pin might be slightly different, causing potential issues over time, especially with master key systems.

Practical Examples: Schlage and Kwikset

Schlage Locks

  • Use OEM pins when:
    • You need nickel-silver pins for nickel-silver key blanks.
    • The wear resistance is a priority.

Kwikset Locks

  • Use OEM pins when:
    • Precision is critical. For example, Kwikset pins have specific lengths (e.g., a 0.172-inch pin), which may not match perfectly with universal pin increments.
    • Avoiding potential long-term issues with master keying systems.


Choosing between OEM and universal pinning kits depends on your specific needs and the locks you work with regularly. Universal pinning kits offer versatility and cost savings, making them ideal for many standard applications. However, when precision and material compatibility are paramount, OEM pinning kits are the way to go.

Key Takeaways:

  • Universal pinning kits are versatile and cost-effective but not ideal for Kwikset locks or when using nickel-silver key blanks.
  • OEM pinning kits provide exact matches to lock manufacturers' specifications, crucial for precision and longevity.
  • Consider the specific requirements of the job and the materials you're working with to make the best choice.

By understanding the strengths and limitations of both types of pinning kits, you can enhance your rekeying process, ensuring reliability and satisfaction for your clients

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