We have an old numbered key, that looks like a regular key, but it seems it is numbered, so the locksmith refuses to copy it without our landlord coming with the original.

Our landlord would obviously not want us to have more than one person live in the apartment, so he would not cooperate.

So the question is: how to copy a regular key (no fancy double cylinder or more) for which, however, there is no key blank available?

I assume it would be sufficient to thin a thicker blank, and then engrave the sides properly, in addition to replicate the teeth. Do locksmiths offer such service?


I discovered that there exist some key blanks that are matching multiple key types. These blanks typically look very skinny in the middle, so that they would pass through different keyways (still belonging to the same producer) . I eventually managed to use one of these key blanks, but of course their cutting requires a locksmith with a minimum amount of skills. Thanks for the advices!

  • What does the "no key blank" issue have to do with the number on the key? If you really can't get a blank, that's probably the end of the story... what difference does it make if there are numbers on it?
    – Hank
    May 8, 2013 at 16:04
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    This question is soliciting potentially illegal advice. Check with local laws before following any suggested solutions.
    – Tester101
    May 8, 2013 at 16:15
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    This seems like a pretty harmless question to me. Lots of advice on this site could be used illegally. We don't know anything about Paul's lease, landlord, or living situation. I'm not even convinced that having a number on the key means you're not supposed to copy it. Besides, even if the lease stipulates only one resident, many states require exceptions for spouses, children, other dependents, etc.
    – Hank
    May 8, 2013 at 17:39
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    As far as I know, it's perfectly legal to copy keys having the disclaimer "do not duplicate".
    – Pa_
    May 8, 2013 at 17:49

2 Answers 2


If the key is for a high-security lock like Medeco or Mul-t-lock, only the locksmith who originally cut the key will be able to cut a new key as each locksmith is assigned a unique keyway. These keys are actually not copied but cut from a specification. Stores who cut keys but are not lock smiths might try to copy these but the results will be unsuccessful.

If the key is not a high-security key then the locksmith who said no without the original is doing his moral duty to not copy such keys since the numbering is a form of audit and access control.

The blank is not the issue - there are a ton of different types of blanks and a locksmith will know which one to use. They will not grind down other blanks normally, though I suppose if you were legitimately trying to create a copy of a very unique key (say something antique) then they might resort to other methods to copy it.

Your options are:

  1. Find a locksmith who will copy it for you
  2. Either replace the lock cylinder or the entire lock assembly with a new one, after which you will hold the original key and be able to make as many copies as you want. Usually you would just provide the landlord with a copy of the key so that they can enter but definitely check with your landlord to see if this is allowed.
  3. Have at a blank with a dremel or other type of grinding tool. Depending on the quality of the lock, this may or may not be successful.

Of course maybe the best thing to do would just be to ask your landlord! Not to suggest you should lie to your landlord, but if you think multiple dwellers is a sticking point then maybe just say you want a copy so someone can come clean your apartment regularly - I think you'd be hard pressed to find a landlord who would actively discourage you from keeping the apartment clean.

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    "I want a spare I can give to a trusted friend/family member so I don't have to bother you if I lock myself out." May 9, 2013 at 19:43

I saw a customer run key copy machine at lowes. May want to do a search in your area for one of those. You could also do it this way: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/use-a-dremel-multitool-to-cut-112010

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