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A second key fitting method is by sight. Several companies make specialized scopes for looking into the keyway. An alternative method is a new miniature camera system by Keedex which can copy a magnified view of the tumbler positions onto a computer screen. As already described, wafer tumblers come to rest in the same general contour as the cuts on an operating key. The scope or camera will allow you to view each tumbler and determine the general height. Once the contour is determined, a code machine can be used to originate a key.
Always look for the easiest way to complete your job. Many new desk locks use a removable core system. If the lock is designed for plug removal, it must first be picked to the unlocked position. With few exceptions, the retainer is located at the rear of the plug. Insert a straight pick to the rear of the plug and raise the retainer for plug removal.
If all else fails then impressioning is the answer. Speed your impressioning by studying the tumbler contour first. You will then at least know what your final key cuts should look like. Use as little force as possible during impressioning. Some import locks use very thin wafer material and undue turning force can quickly twist a rectangular tumbler into an unusable ‘S’ shape. Even if you make a smooth operating key by impressioning, it is best to make the final customer key with a code machine. Correct spacing can be lost to the point where wafers may be not resting on the level valley of the hand filed cut. While the impressioned key operates well, it may be impossible to make duplicates of the key in the future.
While this article centered on wafer lock, many of the procedures can also be used for pin tumbler locks. As example, Ford pin tumbler locks can often be easily picked to an unlocked position. A ball pick can then be used to determine the contour and the key cuts can be made on a code machine. Once the general contour is completed, impression marks will be readily identifiable and a operating key can be completed in minutes.