Key Cutting Machines - A Buyers Guide
This site has been set up to tackle some of the issues involved in buying Key Cutting Machines and associated key blanks. It will give you pros and cons of the various types of machines and lists some of the main key machines available to you.
If you have any reviews of the machines featured, key cutting advice, questions or just like to share your key cutting experiences please email them to me.
Disclaimer: Please note that this site has been set up purely as an additional information site to share my knowledge and contributors experience but I cannot be held responsible for the accuracy or interpretation of the information posted here. You should confirm relevant details with the vendor of your key cutting machinery before your purchase.
Starting Key Cutting
Key cutting has become more and more accessible to companies in recent years in non-traditional key cutting industries, largely due to the Internet. Traditionally key cutting was the domain of locksmiths, ironmongers and heel bars. Now more companies are attracted to the industry due to the high profit margins available and the ability to diversify from their existing business (for example dry cleaners and newsagents).
On top of this there has been a rise in schools, universities, maintenance departments, property agencies and government departments purchasing key cutting equipment to cut keys in house to reduce the spiralling costs in both time and money to get duplicate keys cuts.
How much can you make key cutting?
The price of cylinder key blanks usually varies between 15p-30p for standard key blanks depending on the key section and quantity purchased. Special section cylinder blanks (if available) can vary from 50p-£2.50 but can often be restricted.
Depending on the outlet and the geographical location the cost of getting keys cut can vary from £1.50-£3.99 and Special Section ones are a lot more.
Mortice key blanks vary between 30p-£2 depending on type, quantity and whether they are genuine or copies. Once these are cut they are often £3+ depending again on location.
These margins are obviously a big attraction to any would be key cutter. What has to be remembered is that these prices are high to cover the initial machine costs, replacement of cutters and the relative large and increasing stock holding of blanks required. However, once the initial set up cost of the machines is recouped it can become a very profitable business, assuming the business is in a good location with adequate through traffic of people and that competition is not too fierce.
Is training required?
Not really, well it kind of depends on the individual. If you have a keen eye for detail and are confident in using small machines then key cutting is relatively straightforward. Manuals with the machines will go through the basics and some suppliers will have additional training material they can supply you either free of charge or at an additional cost. The hardest part off key cutting is not the cutting of the key but is instead the identifying of the key. There are literally 1000's available in the market but some are very common and others are relatively rare. If you are cutting for the general public the best thing to do is to buy a selection of popular blanks to get you started and then add to them as time goes by. A critical piece of information is to check with the supplier of the blanks that the selection they are supplying are applicable to the UK domestic market. Occasionally you may be offered selections of blanks designed for the US market these are largely redundant in the UK market, so ask yours supplier before hand.
If you are cutting keys 'in-house' then your key blank supplier should be able to help you to identify the specific blanks that you require, ask them the best way to do this. This avoids you spending money on key blank selections which are not relevant to you.
Above all else talk to your supplier. Any supplier worth their salt will be available to answer all your questions before your purchase and always be at the end of the phone to help you in the future. So it is important to pick a supplier with a good long standing history in the industry rather than a 'fly-by-night' just trying to off load cheap key machines as quick as possible.