Keys and Key Machines are Alive and Well

Jan. 2, 2018
Today's precision key machines allow locksmiths to deal with the increasing precision of modern locks

I remember an old photo from the introduction of the Simplex lock at a locksmith convention back in the sixties.  A banner above the booth read “Ban the Key.”  Well, it’s been over 50 years now, and the key is still going strong. 

Sure we have so called “keyless cars” in production, but all but one of them incorporates a keyed override in case of a mechanical or electronic failure.  Lots of people, including myself, have combination locks on their homes, but those locks also have a key bypass for emergencies. More cars than ever before are equipped with “High-Security Locks” of one type or another that require precision key machines in addition to any electronic components.  And the “Utility Lock” business is booming, with precision locks being used on cabinets, lockers, tool boxes, campers, and all manner of other applications. 

In short, keys and key machines are still a big part of modern society, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

Computerized and computer assisted technology has been creating a quiet revolution in modern locks.  Things like bump-keys, internet lock bypass videos, and so-called lock “hackers” have been forcing lock manufacturers to up their game with more precision, higher tolerances, and improved materials to produce the type of locks that consumers are demanding.

Let’s take a look at some of the precision key machines on the market today that allow you to deal with the increasing precision of modern locks.

Ilco Speed 04X Series Duplicators

There are four machines in the Speed 04X series:

  • Speed 040 – Automatic or Manual Duplication
  • Speed 044 – Semi-Automatic Duplication
  • Speed 045 – Manual Duplication
  • Speed 046 – Manual Duplication of flat keys

All of the machines share the same basic platform, which is designed for long life, safety, and precision operation.  All feature a depth tracer with a micro-adjustment system that allows the user to adjust the machine in increments of .00098" (.025mm).  With precision duplication like this, you should be able to duplicate pretty much anything that comes your way.

In addition, all of the Speed 04X machines feature four-sided, slotted vises allowing you to grip and tip-stop or shoulder-stop virtually any type of key blank that you can imagine.  The vises are nickel-plated for long life and can be easily rotated without tools simply by loosening the knob and rotating the vise.  The spacing between the vises is a generous 3.5 inches, which will accommodate todays longer keys including large head keys, remote head keys, and flip keys.

All cutters are Titanium Nitride coated for long life and oxidation resistance.  The nylon de-burring brush features soft-touch bristles for a perfectly finished cut key.  Mounting brackets are supplied with each machine for vehicle and/or workbench mounting.  The large chip tray makes clean-up easy, and the large transparent chip shield and ergonomic design make the machine easy and safe to use.

For more information, contact your local locksmith distributor or visit

Jet 070 Semi-Automatic Heavy Duty Duplicator

The new 070 machine from Jet Hardware Manufacturing Corp. is a sleek replacement for the older 7070 machine.  While retaining the key features of the 7070, the 070 is improved and modernized in many ways.  The vises are now four-sided with clamping options for almost any type of key.  Strategically placed slots allow the user to tip-stop or shoulder-stop all manner of keys.  Two “lifting pins” are provided to make cutting smaller keys easier.  The lifting pins are inserted beneath both keys to help lift and clamp smaller than average keys.  The contours of the vises themselves make changing from one face of the vise to another quick and easy.  With the clamping knob loosened, the operator only needs to grip the vise, lift and rotate it into the desired position.

Adjustments to the machine can be made quickly and easily, thanks to the knurled adjustment knob that is calibrated using easily read marks for every .02mm of adjustment of the key guide.  A full set of Allen wrenches are supplied with the machine along with a detailed operator’s manual to help the user get the most from their new 7070 machine.

The 7070 machine is a semi-automatic machine, and the carriage is ergonomically designed for heavy-duty service.  The vises are placed over three inches apart to accommodate longer key and keys with over-sized heads such as automotive keys with integrated remotes, large rubber heads, or flip keys.  An adjustable LED work light provides bright and even illumination and the large transparent chip-guard makes it safe and easy to see exactly what is going on while the keys are being cut.  After the key has been cut, the deburring brush is conveniently located and controlled by a momentary contact switch that allows the brush to stop as soon as you lift your hand away from the brush.

For more information, contact your local locksmith distributor or visit

Keyline Easy and Easy Quattro Duplicators

The new “Easy” duplicators from the Bianchi 1770 Group (marketed in the USA by Keyline USA) feature Italian engineering and design to produce a handsome and versatile duplicator that is also designed for long life under heavy-duty usage.  There are two versions of the machine; the “Easy” and the “Easy Quattro.”  The main difference between the two is that the standard “Easy” machine is equipped with double-sided vises, while the “Easy Quattro” is equipped with four-sided vises.

Both machines are semi-automatic machines that can also be used as a manual machine.  The internal workings of both machines have been specifically designed to protect against electrical shorts caused by brass shavings.  The motor, all of the wiring and switches are all shielded to prevent the intrusion of brass shavings from contacting any electronic component.   Relays are used to prevent accidental overloads.  The vises on both machines are equipped with slots that allow for tip-stop operation as well as shoulder-stopped operation.  The four-way vises on the “Easy Quattro” allow for even more versatility for those who require it.

The large transparent chip-shield covers both the cutter and the deburring brush allowing the operator to see what is happening easily and safely.  An independent momentary contact switch is provided for the deburring brush to help you make a finished key quickly and safely.  The hardened key guide is easily adjustable for extremely precise calibration.  An automatic switch provides safe and sure starting only when the carriage is moved forward into the cutting position.  The extra wide spacing between the vises can accommodate extra-long keys, or keys with oversized heads such as automotive keys with integrated remotes and flip keys.

For more information, contact your local locksmith distributor or visit

Framon Express Duplicator

Framon Manufacturing Co. has been owned and operated by working locksmiths since its founding in 1972.  All Framon key machines are assembled in the USA in Alpena, Michigan.  The Framon name has become synonymous with durable and precision equipment, and the Express machine lives up to that reputation.  I have owned an Express machine since it was first introduced in 1992, and I have not had a moment’s trouble with it.  The Express machine has been redesigned since mine was built and now sports a more stylish housing and a high-efficiency drive system as well as many other innovative features.

The improvements also include a new wider carriage that will accommodate keys up to 4 3/8” in length.  This will allow you to duplicate virtually any key that comes your way.  The Express also features a larger than average distance (over three inches) between the cutter and the vise when the carriage is retracted from the cutter.  This makes loading and unloading the vises easier and helps to accommodate keys with oversized heads such as integrated remotes and flip keys.  The built-in tip-stop and shoulder-stop help you to align and cut a huge variety of different types of keys.

I personally love the innovative “no tools required” depth adjustment system that allows me to quickly and easily change the depth adjustment.  This really helps when you are dealing with badly worn keys, allowing you to make a “high duplicate” in seconds.  The calibrations on the depth adjustment wheel allow you to quickly return the machine to proper calibration for duplication.  The hardened key-guide and the Titanium Nitride coated cutter means that the Express will be with you for the “long haul.”  The Framon quality is evident in every feature of the machine from the rod-wipers on the carriage and the sealed bearings that are used throughout.  The entire machine is designed to keep chips out of both the mechanical and the electronic components for safety and durability.

For more information, contact your local locksmith distributor or visit

The mechanical key is alive and well, and all of these machines can help you provide your customers with quality duplicate keys that work as the originals.