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You can rekey a lock quickly and simply, in an evening — it might qualify as a “One-Beer” project, if you’ve got just one lock to rekey. Change-A-Lock and other companies make kits that allow you to change the key for a lock. But if you want a key you already have to fit all your doors, you’ll probably have to either hire a locksmith or do the work yourself.

My dad always rekeyed our locks to all fit the same key. He would match up the brand and model of the locks in the doors to make things easy, but if he was buying any locks, he followed a simple rule: “Buy the one with the tallest key.” With a tall key you may only have to file down the pins to get the other locks to fit the key — and taller key means shorter pins.

You can always mix and match the pins if it makes the job easier, but take pictures of the locks before you take them completely apart, just in case you don’t remember how they looked before you started.

If you have a short key, and no choice about it, or if you ran out of long pins and need one more, or if you lose a pin, then you need something to occupy the open space unless you’re ok with a less secure lock. The right diameter solid copper wire makes a good replacement, and solder wire should be ok. Make sure you’re using something that isn’t going to corrode and isn’t too soft.

File the pins to the right length, and test repeatedly before you put the lock back in the door. If you have to, you can buy extra pins for the locks, but getting the right pins without paying a ridiculous price can be difficult.

Rekeying Basics [How Stuff Works]


7 Responses to Use The Same Key

  1. joelfinkle says:

    The major home stores will generally do this too — I don’t remember whether they charged me a couple bucks or whether it was free, but I’ve had it done both at H*m* D*p*t and L**ws.

    With reading glasses and a hand more patient than mine, I could probably do it myself, but it wasn’t worth the frustration of little pieces going sproing all over the kitchen.

  2. Jason says:

    What’s with the *’s?

  3. Dan says:

    http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/shows_dctl/ a video under builder show
    The have a kickset lock that can easily be repined with a smart key so if you break up with your girl friend and you need to re key it kwik (quick) you can with out any tools in about 15 seconds


  4. Harley130 says:

    Both of the BORG’s now do not rekey customer owned locks. This is due to insurance and liability issues.
    They only will rekey a lock a the time of purchase.
    What the above article fails to mention is that a specialty tool is needed to get some locks apart. Then you need one of the plastic tubes the right diameter to remove the cylinder from the lock without blowing the top pins. And if you do blow the top pins then you have to know how to get them back in. All in all, this ain’t a DIY project anymore. Just take the lock down to you local lock shop and pay the locksmith to get it done right. Or, if your existing locks are Kwikset compatible, then get their Smart Key locks and you can rekey them to you existing key in 15 seconds or less.

  5. american lockpicker says:

    The specialty tool Harley mentions is called a follower. Also if you have any lock related questions you can find answers at http://www.ukbumpkeys.com/forum.html

  6. Koba says:

    When I left home depot, they still rekeyed customer locks, usually free if someone was nice, courteous, and patient. Schlage and Kwikset both publish their rekeying manuals on their websites, and lock pins and tools are extremely cheap. My “kit” to key Kwiksets cost less than 30 dollars and allows me to master key. If you enjoy working with your hands, it’s a great hobby that will easily pay for itself. Very attainable, but the only requirements keep it out of the hands of most consumers: patience, attention to detail, and learning ability.

  7. Chris says:

    Kwikset locks are, in my humble opinion, garbage. I replaced two of them on my best friend’s house when he moved in last year. The locks were only five years old and they were already severely weathered and very stiff where they should have been loose and loose where they should have been stiff. You won’t catch me buying any Kwikset hardware any more.


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