Car keys these days are remarkably complex beasts. Covered in buttons and loaded with security transponders, they often cost hundreds of dollars to replace if you’re unlucky enough to lose them. However, back in the day, keys used to just be keys — a hunk of metal in a mechanical pattern to move some levers and open a door. Thus, you could reshape a wrench into a key for an old car if that was something you really wanted to do.
The concept is simple. Take a 12mm ratcheting wrench, and shape the flat section into a profile matching that of a key for an older car without any electronic security features. The first step is to cut down the shaft, before grinding it down to match the thickness and width of the original key.
The profile of the key is then drawn onto the surface, and a Dremel used with a cutting disc to create the requisite shape. Finally, calipers are used to mark out the channels to allow the key to slide into the keyway, before these are also machined with the rotary tool.
Filing and polishing cleans up the final result to create a shiny, attractive ratchet wrench key. Even better, it does a great job of opening the car, too.
Similar machining techniques can be used to duplicate a key from just a photo (something I did back in 2019 to prank my friend). Alternatively, 3D printing can be great for reproducing even high-security keys. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Making A Car Key From A Ratcheting Wrench”
Keys cost like what, $2 to copy at a locksmith? But where’s the fun in that? Here’s an easy way to cut your own keys using a CNC mill!
[Bolsterman] now “works” for a real estate company that rents out various properties. Whenever someone moves out, the locks need to be changed ASAP. They use Schlage locks, which can be re-keyed to any pin combination. New keys are typically cut with a punch or a key cutting machine — he actually had one years ago, but got rid of it. Not wanting to buy a new one for his new job at the real estate company, he decided to see how hard it would be to turn his small desktop CNC into his own personal key cutting machine.
All it took for [Bolsterman] to turn his mill into a key cutting machine was a 3/8th 90° countersink bit with the end ground to a flat approximately 0.055″ across (0.035″ is the width of a factory key, but a bit of leeway makes it easier to make the key). Then you simply zero the mill off of the shoulder of the key, and using the handy Schlage pin chart (included in the original link), cut the grooves!
To automate all of this, [Torrie Fischer] created a python script for generating the GCode for keys based on [Bolsterman’s] technique — it’s hosted over at Noisebridge’s Wiki — check it out!
But if all that seems like too much effort, you could just print a new key instead…