Methods of Making Keys from Scratch

When you lose your keys it’s frustrating and can be a very upsetting experience on the whole. We can take the pressure off and make this a smooth process for you. For the most part, vehicle keys take a half hour to 45 minutes to make. There are a few common methods for this. One of these is to remove a lock from the vehicle; usually your locksmith will remove the easiest lock to access, which is most often the trunk lock or tailgate lock. Sometimes removing the door lock, ignition, or glovebox lock is preferrable. With the lock out, there may be a code on it. This can be looked up to retrieve the specific cuts needed for your key. Other times the lock may be disassembled to get the cuts.

Another method is to use a reader. These tools measure the pins with the lock in the door. Readers can be a great asset for a locksmith, as when they work properly they save time and reduce any risk of damage from disassembly.

The last method is to impression the key. To do this, a locksmith makes a razor thin key and uses the lock to mark the key where it needs cut. Impressioning, when done correctly can save time and prevent damage, but it’s definitely an acquired skill that takes practice.

At least one or all of the above methods will work for pretty much any vehicle. Always be sure to tell your locksmith if the ignition key is different from the other locks as this may complicate things. Don’t forget to call Danny Joe’s for any locksmith needs!

Going to a Local Locksmith vs Corporate Locksmiths

The other day, I had a customer say the main reason our ad had swayed him was because of our local phone number. While I can think of a few other reasons to call Danny Joe’s over the competition, this got me thinking. You see, this customer had called several 800 numbers and had bad luck with every one of them. While there are great corporate locksmiths and being that small business Saturday is coming, up here are Five reasons local may be better.

1.) Most local companies are small. What this means for you is that if in any way the work doesn’t meet your expectations, it’s a lot easier to get to the highest link in the chain so that you get a satisfactory resolution. In fact with Danny Joe’s, all of the calls go straight to the owner for booking. With a corporate locksmith, you may wind up talking to a bunch of people who’ve never even had field experience and may not fully understand the issue. They just man the phones.

2.) Money. If you think about it, you will likely save money going local. Most corporate locksmiths are franchises of a bigger corporation. So basically you are paying a franchise owner, who pays a corporation. Not only do they have more overhead, but also less control over corporate set pricing.

3.) Subcontracting. I’ve had offers for this on a few occasions and this is a crazy set up which is why I always refuse. In some cases, the 800 number you call goes to a call center for a company that just advertises the services. When you call them, they call a locksmith and they take a percentage from that locksmith. These companies don’t always vet the subcontractors fully. So now If you have an issue, you are calling an ad agency with virtually no liability to get the issue resolved! In addition you are paying more for a company to pick a locksmith from a phone book.

4.) Doing business locally helps the economy locally. When you do business locally your money stays in the state longer, helping other businesses as well creating more jobs; this is why doing business locally is always a good choice.

5.) When you call a local locksmith, whether they have a one man shop or a crew of ten, for the most part everybody knows their company’s name is on their work, and they are responsible for the outcome, and that has a direct effect on how the company performs. Buying local from any small business often results in a better product.

Danny Joe’s is locally owned and operated. You will always speak directly to the owner when you call, meaning we have more control over the prices, and you are always guaranteed the best price! You’ll never have to worry about your job being done quickly and professionally, Danny Joe’s makes sure you get a professional result, no matter the job!

Installing a Lock on a Bare Door

If you’re replacing a door on your home there are several things to consider, such as what hardware you want to go with and how you are going to get it installed, as well as whether or not you buy a door with the holes pre drilled for the locks. If you are keeping the jamb, you should buy a blank door with no holes drilled, as you want the locks on the new door to be in the same place they were on the old one. The two most common brands are kwikset and Schlage. These keys have distinctive shaped heads, so if you want the new locks to match an existing key you will want to make sure the head is similar to your current key. You can google this or ask at the hardware store. If matching them up is not a concern, then in my opinion schlage makes a better residential lock. However, Kwikset is a good brand, in fact they have a lock that is pick proof and bump proof. This is their smart lock line, this would lead you to believe that this is a more secure lock and it is to an extent. However most criminals aren’t going to pick the lock. They will kick the door in first or use brute force on the lock. With these If you’re ever locked out the cylinder has to be destroyed and replaced to gain access. However the perk with the smart lock is that it’s designed to allow you to change the lock on your own and it’s really simple. So there are a few drawbacks to this line, but overall it’s comparable to most residential brands and gives you a little more.

So you have picked your hardware, now you have a blank door that needs locks installed. Any lock you buy will need the same size holes drilled, there is a 2 1/8″ hole for the lock and a 1″ hole for the latch. They make cheap kits to do this on your own, but for the best results I would recommend calling a locksmith. It’s relatively simple to install a lock on a bare door, but you want to make sure the locks line up with the holes on the existing door jamb, also you want to ensure that the holes are drilled straight and the door is mortised out for the latch face. Any of this being off might affect functionality or leave an undesirable fit. If you call Danny Joe’s, we can get those locks installed professionally in about a half hour a piece and they will look like they were always there!

Replacing the locks on your home vs. re-keying them

Often I hear people say it’s more cost effective to replace your locks than to rekey them, as you have to pay a trip charge and fee per cylinder. It is true that the price would exceed the cost of a new lock if you had one door with one lock. However, at least with our pricing, if you have more than two locks you will save money with Danny Joes! We charge a nominal trip charge of $45 and $7 per cylinder so for two locks you’d be right around $60; this would break even on picking up replacements at the store, which are ranging from $20-$30 a piece. Any additional cylinders above that would save you roughly $13-$23 per lock. But wait, there’s more! The added bonus to calling us is that since we disassemble and re-pin your existing locks, you don’t have to worry about matching styles and finishes! You get the same locks you had just reconfigured. Another benefit is having everything on one key, providing all locks can be matched.

What if my door locks aren’t working? Should I replace them?

We carry new and used locks; if your lock isn’t working, it may just need one part replaced or just an alignment adjustment and replacing it won’t help. We check every lock for functionality prior to completing the job.

What is the per cylinder fee?

We charge per cylinder not per lock, the only time this is important is if you have a deadbolt or knob that uses a key on both sides. These are most commonly found on glass doors where the concern is that if someone breaks the glass they can’t reach in and unlock the door.

So now that you know the basics, save money call Danny Joe!

What if my keys are lost or stolen?

If you’ve ever lost your keys, it’s probably occurred to you how disastrous it could be if they were in the wrong hands. On two occasions this week, I’ve responded to folks who have had their keys stolen. One of those actually resulted in the theft of the vehicle. I’ve even seen divorces and breakups where this happens. Thankfully, there are some options if you ever go through this ordeal. The cheapest option, if your vehicle is equipped with a chip key or transponder system, I can erase the old keys. This still gives them access to the car, but they cannot drive off with it, as it won’t start. The next option if you do not have a transponder, is to change the ignition key. This is just as effective as erasing the old keys, if not more, as it also prevents the vehicle from being put in neutral. Both of these options are good for some people but not everyone. Your next option for total security and peace of mind, is to change all of the locks and erase any old keys and remotes. This usually takes longer and is more expensive, but you can rest easy knowing there is no feasible way someone is going to have access to the car, and you got a good rate by calling Danny Joe!

If you are considering just replacing the locks on your own, that is a perfectly fine idea. I recommend practicing the disassembly at the junk yard, as it allows you a chance to get a feel for things without risking damage to your car. For the non do it yourselfer, there are a two options. Take it to a dealer or garage, or call a locksmith. In my experience, you can always get a better deal with a locksmith. The main reason is a dealer or shop will either replace the locks and ignition with new ones, often incurring higher costs, or subcontracting the work out and now you pay a middleman. Why pay the middleman? Most locksmiths will simply disassemble the locks and swap the pins, thus changing the cut pattern required rendering the old keys useless.

Remember if you’re ever in this situation, call Danny Joe’s! You can never have too much peace of mind.

Saggy doors and sticky locks

If your locks are tight to lock or your door won’t stay latched but the door operates smoothly otherwise, we can fix this as well! Basically for one reason or another the latch on your door isn’t lining up with the jamb. There are two ways to fix this. First and most commonly we can expand the hole on the jamb with a rotary file. This leaves a nice clean appearance while giving you a smooth action. In more severe cases we can also move the hole and the strike plate over it.

If the door is hard to open and close you may have a sagging door. With a sagging door the door is rubbing on the top at the jamb and on the bottom edge away from the hinges. You want to correct this as soon as possible to prevent hardware damage from heavier use. This not only can damage the knob from pulling harder but the latches themselves. Sagging also makes the door difficult to secure.

To diagnose this first eyeball the edge of the door you want to see if the gap all the way around is even. It may help to use a the tip of a pen to gauge the gap. If the gap is narrower at one point there is going to be a condition causing the door to be misaligned. You can also check for rub marks on the edge of the door, jamb, and floor. Next open the door grab each side of the knob and lift up and down in a shaking motion. If the door wiggles up and down you likely have loose or worn hinges, you can tell by looking at the screws to see if there is movement. If the gap is tight all the way around and there are extensive rub marks on length of the jamb it’s possibly a swollen door. If the door is swollen call a carpenter to have the door planed. If the gap is even and it’s only rubbing on the bottom you need your threshold anchored down. We can help with this!

If the hinges are loose put a wedge under the bottom of the door and on the side away from the hinges this will lift the door so you can tighten the screws. If they are tight you may need to replace the hinge or have the door adjusted. If the screws turn freely and don’t tighten you will want longer or wider screws.

Another option which is great for high traffic commercial doors is to install a pivot. This is a large hinge that mounts on the outside of the door on top. Basically it mounts to the door and the header providing additional support. What’s nice about this is that the top hinge will often wear first causing the door to sag the additional support coupled with getting the top hinge to tighten will ensure the door works smoothly for a long time to come. It can also be used as a more cost effective fix if the hinges cannot be tightened any further due to extensive wear on the hinge screws.

What is a master key?

If you own or manage any property with a lot of doors and a lot of personnel, then you know how important it is to manage who has access to what door. Having a master system is a great and cost effective system for this. Basically the idea is the main person in charge (the master), has a key that works everything and then there are separate keys for certain doors that only work those specific doors. One example is an apartment building on a master system, the landlord has a master that opens every door in the building. The tenants all have their own individual keys. This can also be done with kitchens or office buildings, basically anywhere you want some people to have access to some doors and not others, while giving you access with one key. That’s a mouthful! This can even get more complex with master/submaster systems which for example; a building owner rents several floors to different businesses, he has a master that opens every door on every floor, and each business manager has a sub master that opens every door on their floor. Each employee has a key to their office only. To make a master, we simply take two keys and add filler pins or master pins to even out the differences between sizes.

The bigger the master system, the more important it is to have a well set up system this prevents some keys from inadvertently working the wrong doors. Also having a pinning chart which lays out the cuts for each door will prevent this from occurring. One tip I always recommend for people who want to initiate a master system is to start over with new keys. In all reality every door is being changed, trying to retain the same keys your tenants or employees had before sounds like it simplifies things, but it really only complicates it as some keys may be too close to another, causing them to inadvertently work on other doors or they may be poorly cut and not master well. It’s just better to start fresh. One last tip is if you start fresh, request a cut list. This will help you prevent having more than one unit on the same key.

What is a Transponder Key?

One thing I’m often asked is, what is a transponder? Do I have one? The idea behind the “chip” keys is that no amount of brute force will allow thieves to get away with your car. Most cars made after 2004 have transponder chips, so if you have a late model car you probably have one. The easiest way to tell is if the key that starts your car has a plain metal head, then it does not have a transponder chip. To really understand what you have and what to expect, I’m going to cover a few basics here. There are basically two types of chipped keys. In 1986, GM introduced the first type which is the VATS system, or vehicle anti theft system. This system was in place on their vehicles until around 2000. With these keys, you’ll see a black rubber pellet in the key and it will have a small piece of metal in the center. The way this works is the ignition has two wires that go to the computer when you insert a VATS key, these wires measure the resistance in the chip if it reads correctly the car starts, if not it shuts down for four minutes. These keys are more cost effective than the modern chip keys but they have their own flaws,such as the ignition wires move when you turn the key and are prone to breaking resulting in a no start condition.

Now let’s move onto the more modern transponder key system. In my opinion, this is a well designed well thought out system. This system is similar to an RFID card like you’d use on a gate or at your place of work. Basically you have a small chip embedded into your key and an antenna at the face of your ignition. When the car is turned on, the antenna generates a magnetic signal the key receives this signal and sends a signal back the ECM, or computer, reads this and allows the car to start. This system is more fool proof, as the chip is in the rubber part of the key so it’s safe from harm and there is no wiring in motion when you start the vehicle, so it’s less fault prone. These keys are a little more costly and based on the vehicle type you have, they can be pretty easy to get made aftermarket or somewhat difficult.

How do I know my car has one if I already lost my keys? Trust is important in this industry, you have to know what you’re buying. So Have a service key made! A service key is a plain metal key that does everything a chip key does but will not allow the car to start, as it has no chip. Whenever most locksmiths make a transponder key, they make a service key to test the cuts prior to starting the programming this saves the cost of a transponder keyblank, if there is a cut that’s off. Because of this process, a service key should never cost much, if anything. I provide one every time. This will demonstrate whether or not your car has a chip; just try it in the ignition and if it doesn’t start, you have a transponder. You can keep the service key as a spare for when you are locked out or lose keys.

What to do when you’re locked out, and how to get a fair price

We’ve all been there, you locked your keys in your car or house, you’re running late and need in quick! But what do you do? You don’t have a regular locksmith and don’t know what price is too high/low or what to expect. These days, there are a lot of scams and it’s especially important to make sure you hire a good, qualified locksmith. Here are 5 easy things that will help you get a good job at a fair price.

1.) As with any labor, you want to look for an insured locksmith. Most locksmiths will have this posted on their site or ad. With something like a lockout most damage could be covered out of pocket, but having insurance proves stability with any contractor.

2.) Get a price up front! Most locks can easily be opened in under 5 minutes. While several factors such as the type of lock/car, or being dirty or gummed up can make it take longer, a lock out is generally something you should always be able to get a flat rate for. If they can’t give you a price upfront something is wrong. Confirm the price as soon as they get there. For most lockouts, the rate should almost never need to change.

3.) If they tell you that the lock cannot be opened, ask for more information. Cars can pretty much always be opened without damage (I’ve never seen one that couldn’t). For homes businesses etc. if you have a high security lock, you generally would know. Pick proof locks, with the exception of the Kwikset smart key, or similar products are generally really expensive and are put on for a reason. A good lock will have the brand on the front. A quick online search will let you know if it’s high security. Typically when I drill a lock, I have a used like new replacement I throw in at no cost. Even if you buy new, most residential locks don’t cost more than $30 at a hardware store. So if you get a price of $200 plus to drill and replace your lock during daylight hours, you can probably get a better rate and it may be better to call another locksmith.

4.) Most locksmiths want you to be comfortable with the work they perform, so feel free to ask questions. What I see a lot of from scammers is that they get extremely rude and hostile over trivial things, like asking for a business card or asking for an explanation on the charges. If you feel pushed into a deal or bullied, send them away!

5.) Always get a receipt, whether handwritten, printed or emailed, a receipt is crucial. This is your proof of the agreed to amount. If they can’t get you a receipt, pay in cash or have them show the amount charged to you when they process the card.

2003 and new Honda Ignition and door lock issues and why you should call a locksmith

If you have a 2003 or newer Honda, you may have noticed that your ignition or door locks are a little finicky or not working at all, as happens in most cases. This article pertains to the laser cut keys which are engraved as pictured below in picture 1. If you have a 2003 or newer Honda and notice the key doesn’t slide in or turn when inserted, odds are you have a common issue taking place. These cars weredesigned with locks that use split pins. These are pictured below in picture2, notice the arrows pointing to the nub this is the part that has issues. Basically, the term split pins means is the pins that the key moves into place are two part pins where you have a different pin for each side of the key. Over time as the key wears, the pins start to slide down the side of the key instead of along the cuts. This results in the pins shearing off and breaking. If you are experiencing this issue on your ignition, the dealer will want to charge you $400 or more to replace the whole ignition lock assembly itself. This is because their technicians do not disassemble and replace the pins, they replace the whole unit which is seldom necessary and results in having two keys for one vehicle. This may seem like a good fix, but over time these pins wear as well, causing the issue to occur again. Thankfully there is a much better solution.

Call a locksmith! A locksmith can go out and replace the pins in your ignition for a lot less. I charge $160 for performing this service on the ignition and replacement key is included. Where this benefits you is lower cost. Not to mention most times you get pins with an improved design for longer use, you get a replacement key to prevent the issue, and you still have one key for all of the locks on your vehicle. If you are a do it yourselfer, I know what you’re thinking: “Why can’t I order a cheap replacement online?” I’ll tell you why I wouldn’t. Most replacement ignitions go for $80 to $150 online and they may or may not be keyed the same. If the seller keys it the same, you are still using a worn out key which can speed up the wear process. If they provide you with a replacement, you are still going to pay $70 or more to program it to your car. If they don’t key it the same, now you are paying $70 or more to have it programmed and you have two different keys for your car. Now doesn’t that sound like a lot of work? In addition to this, these cars are designed to make it tough to remove the ignitions which utilize breakaway bolts, this is an anti-theft measure that makes it tough to remove the part. Save time, money and hassle! Call a locksmith!


  • Dealer replacements are more expensive.
  • Online ordering is going to cost you the same or more if you need the key reprogrammed.
  • Reusing worn keys is what causes this so whichever route you go get a replacement key.