Rekeying Locks on Residential Properties

Here is my story on rekeying locks on residential properties. There was a time when I would call a locksmith to change the locks on a property I just bought or when one of my tenants moved out.

Then as time progressed and in order to save some money and secure the property faster, I started removing the original locks and installing newly purchased ones and simply trashed the old door locks. I would then change the locks again when the rehab was completed, but before the new owner or tenant moved in.

As time passed and depending on the locks, I started removing the locks and taking them to Lowes or Home Depot and having someone rekey them.

NOTE: Sometimes there is no way to reuse the device so you must purchase new locks. I tend to buy Kwikset locksets as they are readily available and cost effective.

As I watched the guys at the big box rekeying locks, it was apparent this was difficult for them to do and in talking to them I found out why. It turned out they had very little instruction and this was their sideline. Stocking the shelves and helping customers was their primary job. By watching the guys more carefully, I realized it was actually quite a simple task.

So, I decided to venture into rekeying locks myself. I picked up a rekeying kit on E-bay that was reasonably priced. However, it included no instructions. Now you know why I have several books on the subject.

I checked E-bay just recently and they do not carry that kit anymore. The Kwikset #272 Lock Keying Set is now available through Amazon. Here it is to the right. It works on all Kwikset locks. The picture of my rekeying lock kit is at the top of the page.

You can also buy blank keys at a cost of 18 cents each versus the $1.00 plus that the big box charges. They charge as if they cut the key. Amazon even offers colored blanks, but the cost goes up to $1.00 a key. This is still cheap

Here are three books that I recommend if you are interested in how to rekey locks. The links to buying these books are in the right column at the top of the page.

Locks and Locksmithing 6th Edition by Bill Phillips is a great reference book and has very detailed instructions on all types of locks. Simply learning by viewing the process over someone else’s shoulder leaves much to be desired.

This book answers all the questions about rekeying locks and also provides answers about “bump” locks. Several years ago the News channels in TV made it look as if you might as well remove the doors and invite the bad guys in if you use “bump” locks. It turns out the bumping process is not as easy as it looks, at least not for beginners. Just remember, all a lock does is to keep an honest person honest! The bad guys can simply rip the door off the hinges if they want to get into your home.

To answer security questions, I recommend, Master Locksmithing: An Expert’s Guide to Master Keying, Intruder Alarms, Access Control Systems, High-Security Locks by Bill Phillips. Bill Phillips provides information on how to make the door more secure.

Locks are fascinating. There are both simple and complex in their operation. For instance MEDICO locks are very secure and extremely complex. My curiosity always wants to know more whether I use the information or not.

While browsing the book store the other day, which by the way is one of my favorite past times, I found an updated version of Locksmithing Second Edition by Bill Phillips.

It book has more information and is a fascinating read. He goes into more details and covers additional security methods, including security cameras and control systems integration.

I added a key cutter to my collection a while back when browsing at a yard sale. There was an old Belsaw Key Cutting Machine sitting on a table. It is cast iron, has square bolts and no guard covering the drive belt. I think it must be over 40 years old. It works perfectly! Here is a picture. Not bad for $5.00.

It turns out Amazon sells key cutting machines, but not for $5.00. Depending on your needs it may or may not be cost effective. I have put a link to Amazon in the right column on this page.

TIP: One final thing I do when I’m finished rekeying locks is I punch the house number into the key blank. That way I do not fumble through a bunch of keys when I need to have access to that particular property. The process is easy, all you do is place the key you want to identify on a hard surface, hold the punch squarely on the key blank and tap with a hammer ONCE. Amazon also sells these punches. A set of 10 numbers is less than $6.

Dave

Dave Altman
 

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