Locksmiths & Security Consultants in Portland, Maine

Electronic Security ● Keys & Key Systems ● Lock Hardware ● Safes

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To answer the two most common questions we get about keys: yes, we cut most types of them, and no, there is no such thing as a universal master key that opens every single lock on every single door.

The Myth of the "Magic" Key

We frequently get requests from callers to help them open a lock for which there is no working key. Could they possibly borrow the key that all locksmiths have, which opens every lock? Well, thankfully, there is no such magic key: if it were possible, then certainly the bad guys would get their hands on it as well - and that would make our job a whole lot more difficult. What those folks are probably referring to is a master key.

A "Master Key" is a key that is designed to operate multiple locks, each of which also has its own individual key. Masterkeying is undertaken for the convenience of the property owner or manager, but detracts from a building's overall security if not managed properly. In order to ensure the integrity of any series of Masterkeyed locks, it is necessary to set up and maintain a "Master Key System" - which provides an array of keys that can be safely used without the possibility of accidental interchange. Locks set up to accommodate two or more keys, but not part of a proper master key system, could be fraught with inadvertent cross-keying, opening up enormous liability issues. For example:

Suppose a selected master key has cuts of 4-4-4-4-4 and we also need this lock to work with a key with cuts of 6-6-6-6-6. It should come as no surprise that any other key with cuts limited to 4 & 6 will also operate this lock (for instance 4-6-4-6-4 or 4-4-6-4-6). Those inadvertent cross keys are simply removed from the available bittings in a proper master key system.

Now suppose we try to make that same 4-4-4-4-4 master key work with a key having cuts 6-6-5-5-5. Since cuts 4 & 5 are too close together to pin up, it becomes necessary to drop the last three chambers altogether. Both of the keys will work the lock, but so will any key with 4 or 6 in the first two chambers. This opens up the possibility of hundreds of potential cross keys.

None of this is meant to imply that Master Key Systems should be avoided. When properly designed, implemented and maintained, a Master Key System should provide the best combination of convenience and security. Our years of experience protecting the people and assets of Southern Maine will ensure that our customers receive the integrity and reliability they deserve.

Lock Stock & Barrel, Inc. ● 369 Saint John Street ● Portland, Maine
Phone: (207) 773-2904 ● Toll Free: (888) 650-6929 ● Fax: (207) 874-9044
Email: admin@lockstock.net