HPC’s Mini-Groove: Makes Duplicating Side-Milled Keys Easy and Profitable

July 1, 2008
More and more vehicle manufacturers, even domestic manufacturers, are turning to the side-milled key. Duplicating these keys requires a specialized machine.

Have you noticed? More and still more vehicles these days are operated by keys that feature side groove milling code instead of the edge cuts that are so easily prepared on a standard key duplicating machine. That’s if the new car has a mechanical lock installed — at all.

For years we’ve all made keys and serviced the wafer locks on cars without a second thought. But now, even our ‘domestic’ vehicle manufacturers are apparently turning to the side-milled key to provide any additional measure of theft resistance they can get for their customers. The locks are still a variety of wafer; it’s just that the wafer now includes a projection that rides in the side milled groove instead of riding on the edge of the cut blank to achieve a shear line, and lock operation.

It can get downright busy, though, when the wafer is split and you have a projection on each half that rides to a different height! Such is security, this way. Duplicating this key has changed, too.

Several side milling key duplicators are on the market that do the job of ‘side winder’ key duplication quite predictably, but, cost being what it is, are not priced at a level for the shop or mobile key cutter that does not see a high volume of these keys. Too, it’s not fun to drag a larger, more costly machine along in a service van to get scratched up and dented when a smaller, more easily handled machine will perform the task quite readily.

HPC’s Mini Groove ( see photo ) is a no frills side milling key duplicator that is at home in a service van or in a shop, and easy to handle at both. Additionally, it is BATTERY-POWERED, has a light, and can be operated totally cordless Either a 12-24 hour recharge or a connection to an outside DC power source with the included cord is then required.

Setup and operation of this key machine is a task easily handled by most any locksmith. Out of the box, the machine can be put right to work, if charged or operated by DC power cord, since it has been pre-adjusted and tested at the factory before shipment.

Calibration (or re-calibration) of the Mini-Groove is quickly accomplished by adjusting the Tracer and Cutter, as outlined in the included manual, to make sure the tips are at the same exact level. In fact the manual should be read, and referred to, for the machine’s operation any time you have a question.

If you have the correct key blank in stock for duplication, first, place and gauge the customer’s key to be duplicated in the left vise, as viewed from the front. Turn the master height adjusting knob (on the top of the machine) to lower the tracer into the side groove on the customer’s key blank until contact; back off until the carriage just moves. Pull the carriage forward; load and gauge the blank key into the right vise. Turn the power on (the light will come on also) and guide the tracer along one side cut and then the other, on the key to be duplicated.

Not all, but some keys may have differential cuts - i.e. different cuts on either side. Check the key before you first place it in the vise to be sure.

When finished with the duplication procedure, turn the power off — to conserve power, especially during battery operation. Clean up the key as needed. I usually check the depth of cut with a pin micrometer, spring loaded against a table, to ensure that the cut depth matches the original. If shallow, you could damage the wafer projections — causing a lock malfunction!

All in all, this little machine will fit right in to your operation, allowing you to expand into the side milling key cutting arena.
For more information, contact your local locksmith distributor or visit HPC’s web site, www.hpcworld.com.