How to get a key for an old filing cabinet?
June 14, 2011 2:58 PM   Subscribe

Where can I purchase or have made a key for a very old filing cabinet made by Shaw-Walker? The lock has numbers stamped on it, but since it's for an older system everyone I've contacted says they can't help me.

I've contacted a few of the people online and on eBay who specialize in producing keys for filing cabinets based on the codes stamped on the locks, but my code isn't on file (likely because it's quite old). I've tried to contact a few people on antiques forums/et cetera but haven't met with any luck.

This is the keyhole: Shaw-Walker Lock (exterior)
This is the internal component of the lock: Shaw-Walker Lock (interior)
And these are the stamped numbers: Shaw-Walker Lock (numbers)
(it appears to read 11S C5)

Of course I'm most interested in finding someone who can make me a key for this, but if I have to go to a specialist who makes keys for unknown locks I'd still be interested. Even some keywords to search on would be helpful -- it's pretty tough to filter out all the sites making keys for more modern cabinets.
posted by j.edwards to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why don't you just have a locksmith make you a new key and a new lock?
posted by Ideefixe at 3:01 PM on June 14, 2011

Response by poster: I guess it's a little silly, but I'd really like to keep the original hardware if possible. Hmm, maybe I could get a lock+key from a similar piece ... there must be antique forums where people trade/sell the hardware from ruined pieces of furniture, right?
posted by j.edwards at 3:19 PM on June 14, 2011

Oh, good, you do have a screw on the back. Check these guys out; they may be able to help.
posted by Madamina at 3:23 PM on June 14, 2011

I know there's at least one locksmith here in the Bay Area who recreates keys for old locks. He's not even that expensive. I would be surprised if there is no one in your region who can do this.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:40 PM on June 14, 2011

Cabinet and Furniture Skeleton Keys

eBay filing cabinet key seller

And FWIW, according to one source, "Shaw Walker did not manufacture locks, they bought these from a supplier and installed them on their safes. Shaw Walker generally used Sargent & Greenleaf (S&G) and Yale locks. The 301A could simply be a mold mark or something else pertaining to the lock." Contact S&G here.

I have no idea whether this will be helpful, but here are a lot of pictures of a lot of Shaw Walker keys (.pdf).
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:53 PM on June 14, 2011

If you have any example of compatible keys (or if they're available), it is a straightforward thing for a locksmith with a machine shop to make a key that will open that lock. No, they can't do this for you at the hardware store. But, you should be able to find somebody in the vicinity who'll at least make an attempt.

Call everybody in the book in a 50 mile radius. Explain that you are not looking to have a key cut from a commercial blank, but instead are trying to find somebody to machine the key from scratch.

Mind you, it's going to look ugly and not-at-all vintage.
posted by Netzapper at 4:47 PM on June 14, 2011

Oh, sorry to interrupt. But, "skeleton keys" aren't what you want. Those are for warded locks (think old-timey), not for what appears to be a basic (modern) tumbler lock.
posted by Netzapper at 4:49 PM on June 14, 2011

Response by poster: Yeah, it's not a lock that would be fit by a skeleton key, and it's from before all of the "standard" keycodes that people like that eBay seller will make.

I did receive a recommendation for a local locksmith (who does things like vintage safe rekeying, so it sounds like they might be who I'm looking for), so I'm going to give them a call tomorrow ("American Locksmith Co" at 117 North Main, in case anyone reading this in the future is looking for someone in Providence). Thanks, all.
posted by j.edwards at 7:18 PM on June 14, 2011

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