Key Codes and Code Cutting

Many keys and locks have a code associated with them. With the right knowledge and equipment, a locksmith can use this code to create a working key for a lock, without ever seeing or touching the original lock or key. This is very helpful, for example, when you buy a vintage motorcycle and don't have an original key but know the code. A fresh code-cut key will usually work much better than a worn original key or a new copy of the worn key.

Codes are often found:
  • On the original key
  • On the face of the lock itself.
  • On an internal part, such as a cylinder body once the lock is disassembled (Yakima SKS systems are one example).
  • Stamped or otherwise marked inside a lock or handle mechanism. We see this often on Porsche and Volkswagen.
In many instances, the codes are NOT physically marked anywhere. For instance, in some BMW motorcycles, you can find the code recorded on original paperwork. We've also had customers successfully call a dealer to look up their code, then have us cut them a key from that information.

Examples of codes:
Ducati Ignition with code. Image courtesy of John DeNoiaDucati Ignition with code visible. Image courtesy of John DeNoia. 
Image courtesy of Austen Davidsen
BMW motorcycle code recorded in original paperwork. Image courtesy of Austin Davidsen.
FIC latch with codeThis Fastec (FIC) latch has a sticker with the HF320 code noted inside. Keys in the picture (for a different FIC lock) are stamped with their HF312 code.

The are two basic types of key codes:
  • Direct (or Bitting) codes have a direct relationship between the numbers in the code and the depth of each cut. Schlage house keys are a good example. Say you have a code of 83556 on a 5-pin lock. The first position is cut to a depth corresponding to 8, the second to 3, and so forth. The depths of cuts and spacing are standardized for each particular type of lock, so this code and knowledge of the depths and spacing for the lock is all the locksmith needs to create a new key, or which pins to put in a lock to fit a given key.
  • Indirect (or Blind) codes have no direct relationship between the key code and the bitting (the way the key is cut) With indirect codes, the locksmith looks up the code in a book or software. That resource will provide a bitting code, which the locksmith will then use to produce the key.
At Motokeys, most of the time we can create a new key from your code for most types of locks. We'll need to know:
  • The application. For example, the make and model year if its a vehicle and which lock (ignition, glove box, door, etc).
  • Codes or other relevant information. Pictures are very useful here -- of the lock, codes, or of other keys (even if broken).
Contact us with your details and we'll let you know what we can do.