I suspect I don't know what terminology is correct which is why I can't find any information on this via google.

Say I have standard door locks (Schlage or Kwikset) that are fairly new and I have deadbolts and doorknobs that are all set to the same pattern (so one key will open two doors).

Now, say I need to get a new master key or key pattern or tumbler pattern or whatever it's called because my key was stolen or a copy was made and now I don't trust that my locks are secure.

My problem might be that I don't have another factory-cut master key (or pattern) that I can use to have the locks re-keyed to and to cut blank keys to.

How would I go about getting a new key that I could get the locks all re-keyed to? Do I have to buy a new lock-set to install or use to re-key the existing locks?

If anyone thinks they could improve the vocabulary in this post, that'd be awesome, because I don't know what words I'm looking for, even after looking through lockwiki.


  • The key I have is compromised
  • The locks I have, I'd like to keep
  • I don't have a new key to re-key the locks to

How do I get a new key that doesn't match any of the existing locks? And can I then re-key the locks to that key?

5 Answers 5


You can have a locksmith rekey the locks, or you could even do it yourself with a rekey kit. To do this the cylinder will be removed, and the pins within it either replaced with different ones, or in theory they could just be swapped around. After this, the old key will no longer open the lock. You will need a new key. This must either come as part of the rekey kit, or one could be cut based on the new pin arrangement in the cylinder.

Do it yourself rekey kits are available for some lock brands online.

Schlage has a rekeying manual online that you can read and decide if it is a task you want to tackle or to leave to a locksmith. I would expect a locksmith to do it fairly inexpensively if you're able to bring the lock sets into the shop.

  • Ah, so a re-keying kit will come with a new "master" pattern? That's what I was missing, I think. Commented Jan 31, 2014 at 15:17
  • @TimB: I don't see how this explains how you get a key to match the new pattern. You need to extend or clarify the answer. Commented Jan 31, 2014 at 15:30
  • 1
    A key can be cut by numbers. A specific length (top) pin in the cylinder corresponds to a specific depth cut on the key. So you must have a new key cut to this new pattern. And the new key can either come as part of a rekey kit, or can be cut based on the new pins in the cylinder.
    – Tim B
    Commented Jan 31, 2014 at 15:43

Go to your local Home Depot store where they will have spare keys left over from re-keying. At least when my customers ask me about that same problem I give them the left over. They're all new and have only been used once to re-key. You can then re-key with a new key. Good luck!

  • This might be good advice, as long as the ‘leftover’ keys are factory stamped with a 5 digit number. If they aren’t stamped, they could be some strange copy of a 20 year old worn out hunk of junk, which will play havoc with a rekey attempt. Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 13:18

For low-end brands like that, it's far cheaper to just buy new lock-sets. (if you were in higher-end stuff that's designed to be re-keyed, a locksmith can invent a new key pattern for you at no extra charge over the normal cost of re-keying.)

So you're asking "How do I get a bunch of new lock-sets of my preferred brand and style which are keyed alike?" Go into any hardware store and look at the lock-sets on sale. Each retail package has a key number on the back. The cardboard box that came in will have 4-8 packages with the same key number. Scary, huh?

So. Once he's locked out, your nemesis will visit all your usual stores and buy every lock of that same model, hoping to get another with that same key number. ($0 cost to him, since he returns them when he's done.) He's all but certain to succeed. So, buy your locks secretly, from a faraway store nobody would expect you to shop at.


Previous answers seem to miss the easiest approach -- you do not need to play with the cylinder! There are two aproaches:

  1. Use the same lock cylinder, but change the pins [hard, described in previous answers].
  2. Change the lock cylinder, which, implicitly, changes the pins.

Many exterior/deadbolt grade locks have fairly standard cylinders embedded in circular plugs that are mostly interchangeable, and very cheap ($10 each or less). It is possible to order these to be keyed alike; installation is very quick (typically just requires a screwdriver), and there's no danger of the lock exploding and sending pins and springs all over the place. Example: shlage lock cylinder

In general, this is how commercial landlords operate. The major reason to re-pin an existing cylinder is to copy the pin arrangement from another lock, when replacing all of the keys would be problematic.

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