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I'm looking to replace 3 sets of deadbolts and doorknobs with new keyed alike handles and deadbolts (they don't need to be high security or anything, just regular exterior entry). All of the big box home improvement stores I've been to don't have a good way to get keyed alike doorknobs etc. The best I've found is two-packs, but that means I still have to dig through and try to find another set with the same key.

Where would be the best place to get locks that are keyed alike?

closed as off-topic by isherwood, Daniel Griscom, ThreePhaseEel, DoxyLover, BMitch Aug 16 at 22:56

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    you can buy locks that include a "quick rekey" tool ... you simply rekey two of the locks to match the third lock – jsotola Aug 15 at 15:15
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    Did you ask in the hardware department? Home Depot in particular does it while you wait. Lumber yards tend to offer the service as well. – isherwood Aug 15 at 19:26
  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Unfortunately, "shopping" questions are off-topic here. Please take our tour so you'll know how best to participate here. – Daniel Griscom Aug 15 at 20:49
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    @DanielGriscom Duly noted. Though the tour doesn't say anything to that effect. – A Very Large Bear Aug 15 at 23:36
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    @DanielGriscom, while I agree that it seems at first glance like an off-topic shopping question, the answers it is attracting are actually not off-topic at all: locks have codes on the packages you can match; easy rekeying locks are available; locksmiths can re-key any lock for you; etc. So I don't think it's actually a good candidate for deletion. – Nate Strickland Aug 15 at 23:59

12 Answers 12

25

Actually, they do.

Look at the packages for "Key Numbers"

Every lock package will have a prominent 3-5 digit "Key Number" somewhere on the outside of the package, typically the back. All packages with the same key number use the same key.

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So if you have 3 knobs and 2 deadbolts you all want keyed alike, buy 3 knob+deadbolt sets of the same number.

Generally there are 3-8 lock packages in a carton (all with the same style/color/SKU). Every package in the carton will have the same key number. Search the packages with the same SKU until you find your matches. If not enough match, see if they have an unopened carton on the racks, or hit another big-box store. (This is the one time I'll recommend big-box; they buy whole cartons).

This only works within the same SKU (barcode number). Do not turn the store upside down looking for the same key number on a different SKU, you won't find it. So if you need 3 knobs + 2 deadbolts, you must buy 3 knob+deadbolt sets, not 2 and a loose knob.

Speaking of security... Buy your lock-sets far away, at places you don't normally shop. Once we demoted someone in a club and changed the knob/lock to his office. He drilled out ours and fit his own knob-lock. I noted the model, went to the local hardware store and bought one of each key number. Voilà. He could never figure out how I did it!

Some brands of locks are self-rekeyable. But they're cheap.

Certain low-midline brands of lock allow you to "re-key" the lock to any arbitrary key. You unlock it, insert a special tool, and then insert the new desired key. These are compatible with certain keyways. I'm not a fan, honestly; the mechanism seems flimsy given the price point.

Your friendly neighborhood locksmith can do anything

They can make anything you want. But the price will be nosebleed compared to the other options. They can cheerfully build any lock-set (even a padlock!) to match your key.

First, there are 3 kinds of locksmiths:

  • Scammers who flood Google. They collect your contact info and sell it to shady "outbound only" locksmiths who come to you, overcharge you, and/or case your house for a later break-in.
  • Outbound-only. They have a truck, not a shop, and their business is the urgent call and collecting that service charge for coming to you.
  • Shop-based locksmiths (it need not be neat). They are happy for you to come to them, and can make anything since they have a well-equipped shop. They cheerfully handle routine requirements at sensible cost (for locksmiths).

So when calling around, if they pressure you to come to you, hang up the phone: that's a fly-by-night with a truck. Going to their well-worn location assures they're the real deal. You can also find them in 10-year-old phone books.

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    The self-rekey locks are really unreliable, often no longer accepting the original key. We have one that accepts a key with several cuts off by one position as well. They are easy to rake without any analog to security pins. – trognanders Aug 16 at 7:05
  • If you're even a little bit handy, re-keying a regular lock using a re-key kit is inexpensive and relatively easy. There are many online videos showing how to do it for different brands of locks. I found that to be a much cheaper (and more fun) option than paying a locksmith to do it. – bta Aug 16 at 20:13
  • If you are paranoid, a shop-based locksmith is the way to go. Bring all your lock-sets to them to rekey, don't tell them where you live, and pay in cash. – Glen Yates Aug 16 at 20:24
  • This is what I said and have done for years love it when you get more points for an answer and provided a day prior. – Ed Beal Aug 17 at 4:58
9

You say "they don't need to be high security our anything", so perhaps you could consider SmartKey - Re-Key Technology & Key Control - Weiser.

You can rekey them yourself in literally 10 seconds each. The first time you do it, it will take you longer, simply because you've never done it before, but it really is trivially simple to do.

Any time you want, you can rekey them again, with no expense other than the cost of cutting new keys.

It's also handy if you need to temporarily give a key to a handyman. Rekey it for that purpose and then change it back afterwards.

(I know this sounds like an ad, but it isn't. I've personally found this to be a handy and useful system. But it's definitely not as secure or well made as some other products.)

How to rekey

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    There are other brands that have similar technology and similar way of re-keying. +1 for the picture showing how easy it is to do. – Platinum Goose Aug 15 at 14:28
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    SmartKey locks, or just Kwikset brand, are easily defeatable with a flat head screwdriver: defcon.org/images/defcon-21/dc-21-presentations/… – adamaero Aug 16 at 13:20
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    @adamaero, I did point out that the OP said high security wasn't needed. But in general, most locks can be defeated with brute force. And a well aimed kick to the door is even easier and faster. "Locks are to keep out honest people." (And to provide evidence of break-in for police and insurance.) – Ray Butterworth Aug 16 at 19:20
  • I mean, a sludge hammer through a door is a bit more noticeable. Otherwise, doors can be strong :p – adamaero Aug 16 at 19:36
7

The key codes are on the packages go through their inventory and pick out 3 with the same key code, this is how I do it without any extra charge.

5

You could hire a locksmith to change them all to have matching cylinders, but I've found that many packages at big retail stores have a code written somewhere on the packaging which identifies the lock pinout.

If you buy multiple packages having the same code the keys will match. This will take some time looking at all the boxes in the store but it works. The bigger the store the better because you're more likely to have access to more retail packages to inspect.

  • Can you see the key code without breaking the seal on the package? Are you willing to spend the time? – WGroleau Aug 16 at 16:26
  • Yes to the first question. – Matthew Aug 16 at 17:49
  • @WGroleau yes, it is plainly marked. As for "spend the time", it's a 1 minute job, 2 if you're learning. Like I say in my answer, all packages in the same carton are keyed the same, so this only works within the same SKU (barcode item ID). That means you pick your SKU, then paw through the 5-15 packages they have out, until you find n the same. You don't even need to paw through all 15. – Harper Aug 16 at 18:12
  • You said "takes some time," which sounds to me like more than one or two minutes. – WGroleau Aug 16 at 18:41
4

I bought two deadbolts (at the blue big box store if it matters) and had one re-keyed to match the other. I believe this is an option, though it costs a bit to have them re-keyed (~$5 per lock).

Just so you are aware of all your options it seems they (big box stores) as sell re-keying kits, though I have no experience with them. Blue box store link Orange big box store

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    If you buy all the locks from the big blue/orange hardware store, I believe they will re-key them for free. – tk421 Aug 15 at 15:02
  • It has been several years but I had 11 locks" keyed" and do not recall any extra charge. – blacksmith37 Aug 16 at 15:03
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In case you're unable to find sufficient quantity of locksets you like with matching key codes, and if your DIY drive is moderately strong, consider re-keying the locks yourself. Re-key kits for the common Schlage SC1 and Kwikset keyways with enough parts to do all six locks are available through online marketplaces for around US$25.

I've used kits that consisted of no more than a set of zipper bags filled with pins and a plastic follower tool. For your six locks a kit that includes at least 12 pieces of every numbered pin should suffice.

The hardest part is figuring out how to access the lock cylinder. Second hardest is remembering to hold the follower snug against plug so that the upper pins don't jump out. If you can do that, it's a simple thing to dump out the old pins and install a new set to match the chosen key.

If the new locks use the same keyway as the existing locks you could practice the technique on the old locks before starting on the new.

  • @adamaero this answer is talking about actually re-keying a lock (as a locksmith would do) and has absolutely nothing to do with smartkey locks. – mbrig Aug 16 at 18:13
2

Amazon has large sets of knobs/deadbolts (5-6) that are keyed the same.

  • I wonder if they are competitive, and if they have options such as separates for front door, or matching large singe piece handle & lock for front door. Second, which are better, more secure locksets? – Old Uncle Ho Aug 16 at 13:03
  • You need to be very wary of anything from Amazon. They have a program called Amazon Marketplace that has become a dumping ground for counterfeits and cheap junk off Alibaba, and these results are all blended in, and very poorly marked. You have to look for "ships from and sold by Amazon.com" - but even that is not 100% – Harper Aug 16 at 17:39
  • True. Good advice for any online purchases. Read it and look at the pix...then read it again and compare. There's more to it than finding the lowest price. – Greg Nickoloff Aug 16 at 18:31
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Buy a two-pack and then one additional set. If the store you bought them at doesn't do rekeying then take them to a locksmith, or have them come out to you, and have them rekey the third set to match the two.

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    Both of them still do - for a very reasonable charge too (I believe it is about $10 Canadian) for the service. – J Crosby Aug 15 at 14:26
1

If you're buying new locks, then the other answers will be more efficient. If you already have differently-keyed locks, you could try re-keying them yourself.

I re-keyed my existing locks so doors that were updated at different times all worked with the same key. (They were all the same brand of lock.)

It's not hard to learn how conceptually, but it takes a bit of dexterity and patience. You can buy rekeying kits for any of the major brands. The kits come with the specialty tools and a supply of pins in all the various lengths.

There are many online videos of step-by-step re-keying demonstrations for each of the major brands. The basic process is:

  1. Measure your key (with a tool from the kit) to learn the pin sizes you'll need.
  2. Remove the cylinder from the lock and dump the old pins.
  3. Insert the new pins that will match your key.
  4. Put the cylinder back into the lock housing.
  5. Test it.

My first attempt took more than an hour. But the second and subsequent locks took me only 15-20 minutes each.

1

I've recently talked to a high-end, experienced locksmith about this exact topic.

He talked about the various big-box stores that sell locks and the brands they sell, saying most of them are junk, with some exceptions. I don't remember what they were, but you generally get a better brand when you pay more. He also said that they all rotate their key numbers every so often, so if you wait a year, you can get the same numbers for the same brands. This means that you likely have the same keys as several other people in your city. Thieves know this and likely have a key ring to try.

This locksmith said to buy whatever you wanted, then have it rekeyed immediately. A good locksmith can do it quickly, for under $10 a lock, and may come to you. You can also buy the locks directly from the locksmith and they can just come keyed the same to begin with, as long as you remember to specify they should.

If you are buying new locks for a house you just bought, you can just have the locks rekeyed, instead of buying new. This saves you having to research good brands as well as the hassle of running around buying locks and having them match. You also avoid the unnecessary expense of buying the new locks. If you don't like your current locks, then sure, buy new and rekey, but know it's not a requirement, just rekeying the existing ones will work.

Harper's answer was pretty harsh on locksmiths. The guy I talked to had several $10k machines in the back of his truck he worked out of to be able to make keys in nearly any make or model of vehicle, home, and business. He also paid hundreds of dollars a year to get the updates for car brands, when they change lock types to prevent thefts.

It sounds like Harper got burned several times, so take that advice with a grain of salt. There are definitely shady and otherwise unscrupulous people out there, but there's also plenty of legit locksmiths, too. Even if they only work out of a van.

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We went to a supplier (sells lots of hardware) and asked for the set of 5 locks with a series of keys - master key to open all and sub keys that would only open combinations. So front entry and room A and front entry and room B.

So it is possible, but you need a good shop, not one of the common DIY cheap & cheerful stores.

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Some online lock suppliers will gladly sell a set of locks that are all keyed alike. I have personally ordered a large set of locks (around a dozen) from one such supplier; their web order form let me specify which locks should be keyed alike.

I do not know if supplying a link to the one specific supplier I know of would be appropriate for this site, but the one I used wasn't difficult to find by searching.

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