Sunday, December 16, 2012


I have been having issues finding proper keys for some of my mortise locks. My locksmith (the one near me at least) carries a few different universal keys, and he also has a huge key-ring of antique keys I can pick through, but it's still often hard to find ones that work. Sometimes the blade is just a hair short, or the blade is too wide, and often, the old keys have been re-cut or otherwise butchered.

The other problem I'm having is sheer cost. Skeleton keys aren't THAT expensive, but at 7$ per key, they add up quickly. I don't need a ton of them, but I thought I would try a Google search in hopes of finding cheap suppliers. Well, as it turns out, blank skeleton keys are nearly impossible to find. There are numerous sets of ugly, cheaply made repro keys from places like House of Antique Hardware, Historic Houseparts, Van Dykes Restorers, and even on Amazon, but none of those were what I wanted. The majority of them are also brass. NO traditional skeleton keys are brass. The only brass keys I've ever seen are clock keys, or occasionally very elaborate door lock keys on something likes a china cabinet.

I decided to try eBay and Etsy. I got two lucky finds (which you can see below), but they are still very hard to come by. I would have thought that blank skeleton keys would be fairly ubiquitous, but I guess not. I said these were lucky finds, because they were well priced. Several sellers have keys at around 4$ or 5$ (choice + shipping), but that's a pain in the rear if you're looking for a certain style of key. When you factor in that shipping on one key is around 4$, it's just not worth it. Other sellers have huge lots of 50+ keys, but they're asking over 100$. That's rather pointless.

I should have enough of these 6 keys for pretty much the whole house, and they ended up costing around 4$ to 5$ each including shipping.

As a bit of a side note, cutting these keys to a custom design is actually extremely simple. When you open on of these locks you can clearly see where the notch needs to be. All you need is a few files and a bit of patience. Optionally, a bench grinder can be used to remove more material.

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