I have an old tool box that has three locks, that uses the old style of keys (skeleton keys), i don't have any of the keys. Obviously it is very hard to find key to fit these locks. I was wondering what my options would be? Can a locksmith make these keys or it there a place that carries old keys, it there a web site?. Any help or ideas would be very much appreciated.
Why do people keep talking about 'skeleton keys'. A 'skeleton key' is one that has more metal removed than otherwise necessary to 'pass' the wards of the lock. There are many styles of locks operated by 'old style' bit and barrel keys that are formidable to pick and it is impossible to make skeleton keys for them.
I am rather surprised that USA law enforcement agencies tolerate the ready sale of skeleton keys, presumably they take the view that no one would use such a lock in an important application.
Where I live, there are still people who rely on simple locks to secure their property (especially in small places) and hence anyone found in possession of skeleton keys in suspicious circumstances is likely to face a 'possessing housebreaking implements' charge (a school janitor using a skeleton key as a makeshift masterkey would be OK).
The type of key is a barrel, does this make things more expensive or less expensive, is there a ballpark price range you could give me as to what it would cost to have one key made? just so I know how much to expect to spend. thanks
I think that there are a couple of relevant factors.
1) In the USA, law enforcement agencies are somewhat limited - they can't just to decide whether or not to "tolerate" something. There are laws, and those laws need to respect the Constitution (including the Bill of Rights.)
2) So the police don't really need to judge whether or not a particular lock would be used in an important application. It's exactly the same crime to someone to break into a home/store/whatever protected by a cheap lock, and one protected by a top-of-the-line lock.
Do your police also frown on the posession of metal files, crowbars, screwdrivers, bolt cutters, hammers, drills, grinders, etc?
The same here - but the "suspicious circumstances" part is the key. There is no law whatsoever against selling crowbars, etc., but in suspicious circumstances ...
This is why I asked about metal files? Couldn't an aspiring burglar make a "makeshift" skeleton key? Why would your police tolerate that? :-)
A locksmith who stocks an assortment of barrel keys, probably would be willing to try out a few - eyeballing them to see which fit. There is a chance that one of them would work the lock. If so, you might get away with the price of the key - probably under $10. If none fit, the locksmith might be willing to alter one to work the lock - my guess is that the total charge at that point would be $20 or less (for the first key - less for others, if you want additional.)
Most locksmiths CAN make keys to fit your locks. It is probably cost prohibitive though. You should also keep in mind that what may appear to be a warded lock to which the term skeleton key is applicable may be a simple lever lock. If your locks are truly warded do a search on impressioning warded locks or similar and you should be able to find what you need to make your own keys. You may still need to outsource or use a little ingenuity to come up with blanks.
Practically what are they going to do about it? Additionally anyone with a meager amount of skill and a little time on their hands can make their own skeleton keys.
Someone found in possession of a screwdriver in suspicious circumstances will likely face the same charge. Warded locks are generally a poor choice for securing anything, although if you are not prepared for them some of them will stop you cold.
In a warded system a skeleton key can be a masterkey in the true sense of the word. For any other system a skeleton key is unlikely to work at all.
How interesting.I happen to have 2 actual skeleton keys which I bought from a hardware store about 30 years ago. they worked a few locks in the house I grew up in, but I don't know if the locks were actually warded or were simple lever locks.
If the sides of the bit are cut away or the profile is thin (to pass a 'bullet' ward in the keyhole) then it is probably a skeleton key. A 'true' lever lock has levers that have to be lifted to the correct height to allow the lock to operate. Simple locks have a single 'tumbler' that has to be lifted to allow the bolt to be used. There may need to be a cut as sometimes the tumber may be lifted as far as possible stopping the key turning further.
Skeleton keys may fit some one or two lever locks. Legge (with die cast keys) (owned by Ingersoll Rand) has 2 differs off levers and 6 off bullets giving 12 differs and requires two different skeleton keys (one for differs R1-R6 and another for R7-R12).
British Yale produced a 4 lever lock with symmetrical keys. Ordinary locks had 144 differs using the levers and had no wards. Masterkeyed locks had 66 differs off levers (the 'master' lever chewed up many differs) and 10 ward differs giving 660 in all). The masterkey was effectively a skeleton key except for the parts that lifted the master lever and operated the bolt. These would have been used for interior doors of schools, offices and institutions. Legge (owned by Ingersoll Rand) produced a masterkeyed similar lock (and may still do so).
It the house is in the US, and it was built 50 or more years ago, (and especially if it was in a rural area) then it is most likely that the locks were warded. You may be using "skeleton" as a synonym for "bit", and stores often sold a small assortment of simple bit keys that did open a wide variety of warded locks. One of the distinguishing aspects of the keys for warded locks was that the bottom edge of the bit/flag was straight or had a simple cutaway (or two) of the same depth. From memory, here are two examples:
Lever keys are USUALLY flat steel, no side wardning, with the cuts at 90 degrees to the keys working edge. Cut's are not angled like a pin tumbler key as the lever key does not actuate the levers until turned. I have seen some though for more esoteric locks that strongly resembled a warded key.