the key issue
December 12, 2005 3:40 PM   Subscribe

Every year my parents visit, and they want to be able to come and go at will while I'm at work. So I have to give them my keys to the building and my apartment. This makes me nervous, because if they lose my keys, I'm screwed. The obvious solution is to get copies but...

My keys have "do not copy" printed on them. Several people have told me that locksmiths don't care. As-long-as I pay them, they'll make copies. So based on that, I took the keys to three locksmiths. All of them were WILLING to copy the keys, but none of them could actually make copies. They just look like normal keys to me, but apparently none of the locksmiths had the correct "blanks" for the particular size or shape of my keys.

I asked my landlord for another set, and he wants to charge me $75 dollars for them!!! $75 for two keys?!? No thanks.

Any ideas? Any SPECIAL locksmiths I should know about? I live in NYC.
posted by grumblebee to Home & Garden (18 answers total)
The best place I've found for copying the Not To Be Copied keys is at large hardware stores staffed by semi-trained personel. When your folks come down next time, explain the situation to them, and if they drive into the city, have them take you out of the city to an Ace or Home Depot or something. Having an older, possibly stern parental unit is great ammo when facing up to Jimjim the Post-Teen Key Monkey.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:45 PM on December 12, 2005

unless they are those medeco type keys or similar (in which case $75 for 2 keys is not terribly unreasonable) then yes locksmiths don't care. try the home depot on 23rd or in brooklyn, they should have a larger selection of blanks.

or, what robocop is bleeding said.
posted by dorian at 3:47 PM on December 12, 2005

On the flipside, I've always had the best luck getting Do Not Copy keys copied at little mom and pop locksmiths. It's never been an issue of refusal - Home Depot and never seem to have the correct blanks on hand, while the local little locksmith has a veritable google of different blanks hanging on the wall.
posted by zerokey at 3:49 PM on December 12, 2005

good point, maybe grumblebee's keys* are some older/less popular type of blank. which could partially be why the landlord wants to charge so much for copies.

have you tried asking the landlord where to get them copied? maybe part of the excess fee is he wants some compensation for time and trouble?

*hee, try saying it out loud in your haid.
posted by dorian at 3:55 PM on December 12, 2005

There's a key place in the 456 subway station at 86th and Lex. I had a key made there once. I have a feeling they wouldn't care about the "Do Not Copy" thing.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:55 PM on December 12, 2005 [1 favorite]

(or maybe he owns the only stack of these blanks in the entire city)
posted by dorian at 3:56 PM on December 12, 2005

I had a regular house key (with no "do not copy" warning on it) for which it took me forever to find a place that had the right blank... it ended up being a big hardware chain like others recommended. Smaller shops just didn't have the selection.
posted by Robot Johnny at 3:59 PM on December 12, 2005

Response by poster: Just to clarify, the "do not copy" is NOT a problem. All the the locksmiths I went to would have happily copied the keys if they could have done so. They just didn't have the right blanks.

The keys just look like normal keys -- you know, with the ragged edges. But they must be an odd size or something.

I can't easily ask my landlord anything. He's absentee. In the six years I've lived here, I've never met him. Everything goes through the super. And the super just shrugs and says $75.
posted by grumblebee at 4:08 PM on December 12, 2005

Response by poster: I was hoping there was some kind of company (if there isn't, someone should start one). You'd pay, say, $20 online and they'd mail you some kind of thing you could press your key into to make an impression. You'd send them back the impression, and they'd send you copies. They'd bypass the whole blanks issue by just making a whole new key from scratch.

I can dream, can't I?
posted by grumblebee at 4:11 PM on December 12, 2005

that makes a lot more sense then, heh. is your super a doofus? sorry, but I do have a stereotype of supers 'cos that is the only kind I have ever had, in many various apartments. which is why I thank the heavens my current landlady and I are the only 2 apartments in our building -- she is definitely not a doofus.

so... doubtful this super is going to tell you where to get the keys copied. or so I assume.

the key-impression thing sounds great but it seems like it would cost more than $20 e.g. hammacher-schlemmer (then again, they do it for shoe liner/insole things, and even shoes...)

you could always change the locks (pending amicable discussion with super/landlord as per whatever previous thread) but that is going to cost way more than 75 bucks.
posted by dorian at 4:18 PM on December 12, 2005

but assuming on the other hand that your super is in fact a reasonable guy or gal, what about asking him where he'd get the copies made?

ps -- it's not quite true, I have met one amazingly cool super. but she was at a ritzy uws building where I frequently pet/apt-sit for friends.
posted by dorian at 4:21 PM on December 12, 2005

These guys specialize in hard-to-find keys. So do these guys. This looks like a pretty hardcore locksmith.
posted by fionab at 4:35 PM on December 12, 2005

You could try asking locksmiths what sort of blank your key requires, and whether there are any blanks close enough in shape that they might work. My keysm for example, use a specific blank that most locksmiths don't keep stocked, but I happen to know another blank that'll work almost as well [although some picky locks won't take it.] Call around and see if any other local locksmiths carry or can easily order either blank. Heck, you can buy blanks for many keys online in quantities as low as 10; depending on the blank, buying one of those might be cheaper than getting your landlord to copy the key.
posted by ubersturm at 4:45 PM on December 12, 2005

If your parents are only going to be there a few days, why don't you just put the keys on an insanely cumbersome/ orboxious key chain, like attached to a large block? It seems to work for gas stations....
posted by crazyray at 6:43 PM on December 12, 2005

a veritable google of different blanks hanging on the wall
nice turn of phrase!

posted by five fresh fish at 7:36 PM on December 12, 2005

Response by poster: crazyray... huh?

My problem is they might go out during the day, taking the ONE set of keys with them. They might not get back until, say, 10pm. Meanwhile, if I get back from work at 5pm, I can't get in because they have my keys. Or, they have to hang around at the apartment just to let me in.

Are you suggesting that I put the keys on a chain and leave them outside the building???? This is NYC. Someone would hack through the chain and steal them in 10 seconds.

I need a second set of keys.
posted by grumblebee at 7:38 PM on December 12, 2005

grumblebee, I think crazyray was referring to this part of your post: "This makes me nervous, because if they lose my keys, I'm screwed."

His idea meant that a large keychain or dangly item would make it harder for them to lose your keys somewhere along the way. Not that you'd attach them outside. Thinking they'll lose your keys and needing a separate set of keys because of timing are two different issues; he was responding to the first.
posted by fionab at 8:42 PM on December 12, 2005

These guys look good!
posted by fionab at 8:51 PM on December 12, 2005

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