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All About Keys

The Anatomy of a Key

Having looked at different types of padlock locking mechanisms, it's time to turn to another important aspect of the topic: Keys.


We all own keys, lots of them and they are used every day to lock the house, unlock the car, to get into our place of work, sometimes to open safes and garages but we seldom, if ever, give them any thought. But they are important.


There's a fair bit of terminology surrounding the cutting and use of keys. We introduce quite a few new terms at the start and then explain them in more detail as you move through.








Bows & Blades

The narrow part of the key is called the 'blade', and the head of the key, used for turning it in the lock, is called the 'bow' (pronounced as in bow-tie).


This is the serrated edge of the key blade and is the part of the key that aligns the pins to the shear line so that the cylinder can be turned. It is also quite often called the 'key cut'.


The bitting can be described by a series of numbers which refer to the depth and location of each cut in the key, eg. 372164. This bitting code enables a locksmith to cut a key blank to create a new key to fit a specific lock.


The number of cuts on a key is exactly the same as the number of pins there are in its cylinder, for instance a Kasp 125 series 20mm padlock has 3 pins therefore 3 cuts, whereas the 50mm version has 5 pins and 5 cuts.


In the Kasp™ range the bitting sequence (the order of the numbers in the code) runs from the bow of the blade towards the tip and lower numbers represent shallower cuts. If the bitting of a particular key isn't known then it can be read using a bitting gauge.


OK, but why would anyone want to know a bitting code you might ask? Well, there are a couple of good reasons:


  • Making replacement keys on a computer controlled key cutting machine (they contain individual manufacturers bitting details)

  • Making up a new padlock to work with an existing key

  • Making Master or Grandmaster suites (more on this later)


Kasp bitting details are already programmed into most modern computer controlled key cutting machines.

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