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What Is a Skeleton Key?

The common belief about skeleton keys is they are super keys that can unlock every door and lock. Though there are two distinct schools of thought on this topic - some people argue that skeleton keys are myths, while others believe that no lock or door could stand in the way of anybody that has one in his possession.

The truth about skeleton keys is somewhere between the arguments surrounding its existence and abilities. Although skeleton keys do exist, they are not as invincible as most people think. A skeleton key only works under unique circumstances and on specific locks. We answered the penitent questions about the skeleton keys in this article. Read on to learn more.

The Reality About Skeleton Keys

Making skeleton keys require a high level of key cutting skills that can only be found in a licensed and experienced locksmith. The process of making skeleton keys is somewhat complex. Firstly, you should get the key blank that will match as many locks as possible. Then file the bitting or teeth of skeleton keys to make them appear stripped, long, skinny, and bare to the bones. This is why they are often referred to as skeleton keys.

Filing up the bitting or teeth of a skeleton key allows it to fit seamlessly into locks that do not have filed teeth or bitting. Hence, making it possible for one skeleton key to bypass multiple locks.

Sketchy History

Skeleton keys have been around since the Etruscans and ancient Roman era. They invented locks with unique wards. Wards are metal patterns on locks that protect them from being vulnerable to the wrong keys. These warded roman locks became more popular than the Babylonian rudimentary tumbler lock.

The Roman warded lock didn’t remain invincible for long before people found a way of bypassing it. The invention of skeleton keys broke the invincibility prowess of these warded locks. Skeleton keys became the nightmare of both commercial and residential spaces with tradesmen searching for the perfect way to protect their locks from these "Master Keys".

How Skeleton Keys Work

Since skeleton keys were originally invented for warded locks, learning how these locks work will help us better understand the functionality of skeleton keys. Most warded locks are built with unique metal patterns on the bitting or teeth of both the lock and its keys. Typically, the pattern on the lock’s bitting is the inverted version of the pattern on the keys. So, if a lock has a triangle-shaped ward, its key would have a triangle-patterned cut on it.

While skeleton keys do not have bittings, they have unique cutouts that help them to turn the locking mechanism of warded locks with similar patterns. Since the patterns onward locks vary, a skeleton key can only unlock the locks with patterns that match its cutouts. Hence, the reason all skeleton keys are not universal.

Final Words

The skeleton key is an alternative to our modern master key specially made to open many different locks. If you have old fashioned locks in your property and you do not want an upgrade due to personal reasons, then you can have a skeleton key. It will give you access to every room or space in your property as well as help you have control of your security. However, Tampa Locksmith can cut or make any type of skeleton or master keys for you. We have all the tools for key cutting, lock repair and replacement. You can contact us to book an appointment or reach us during emergencies.

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