Do Not Duplicate By Ralph Forrest-Ball, CML


If you have a key which says "Do Not Duplicate", you might wonder if in fact it's possible to duplicate the key.


Generally speaking, there are two types of keys: restricted and unrestricted. Unrestricted keys are available almost anywhere, including hardware stores. Restricted keys are only available at certain locations, such as a specific locksmith shop.


Restricted keys are usually marked "Do Not Duplicate". If you purchase a restricted key from a locksmith, you generally can go back to the same locksmith to get more. Technically this is not duplicating the key. The locksmith creates new keys using what's called a code machine. The manufacturer has procedures in place to verify the authority of the customer before cutting new keys. Most restricted keys are protected by US patent law, which provides a penalty of $10,000 for circumventing the procedures.


Unrestricted keys are sometimes marked "Do Not Duplicate", and may be called DND for short. Since they are unrestricted, the manufacturer has no control over the procedures. Some hardware stores will duplicate the keys, no questions asked. Others will refuse to duplicate them under any circumstances. The keys are generally not protected by law. Basically, it's on the honor system.


If you have a restricted key and you need additional keys, you need to contact the locksmith who sold the keys originally and ask what procedures must be followed to obtain additional keys.


If you have an unrestricted DND key, it is certainly possible to have it duplicated. The first step is to verify that the key is indeed unrestricted. If your key looks really strange, has two rows of cuts, or has dimples cut in the side of the key, it's probably a restricted key. If you can find an ordinary house key whose blade has the identical side millings as your DND key, and both keys will fit into your lock, then you almost certainly have an unrestricted key. If you're not sure, take the key to a locksmith and ask them if it's restricted. With an unrestricted key, the only thing stopping you from having it duplicated is the words stamped on the head. The two easiest options are: Ask around until you find a key machine operator who is willing to ignore the words. Remove the words. The three easiest ways to remove the words are... Cover them up with electrical tape. Break the head off the key. Grind the words off with a grinder. If that doesn't work for you, here's two more options: Take one of the locks which the DND key operates off the door and carry it into a locksmith shop. Pretend you lost your key and ask the locksmith to make a key which will fit the lock. (This won't work if your locks are part of a master key system.) Tell them not to change it to a new key. This will likely cost you about $15, but then you'll have an ordinary key which can be copied as many times as you want.


Find out what keyway you have (90% of DND keys are either KW1 or SC1) and buy yourself a key gauge on eBay. Note: SC1 keys need a Schlage key gauge; KW1 keys need a Kwikset key gauge. Use the gauge to decode your key bitting. Take the bitting to a locksmith and ask them to cut you a code key with that bitting. This will cost you about $12. The locksmith might ask you for ID and ask you to sign an authorization form. As you can see, there are lots of ways to circumvent the words "Do Not Duplicate" stamped on an unrestricted key (some of the ways are rather easy) and there are no real penalties for doing so. On the other hand, it's very difficult to circumvent the procedures for restricted keys, and serious fines may be incurred. This is why ALOA calls DND keys "not effective security" and "deceptive, because it provides a false sense of security".


For these reasons, Emerald City Locksmith does not sell unrestricted DND keys and does not encourage people who already have DND keys to keep using them. The PLA code of ethics forbids duplicating such keys. As a member of the PLA, Emerald City Locksmith never duplicates keys which are clearly marked "Do Not Duplicate", regardless of whether the key is restricted or unrestricted. If you really want keys which can't be duplicated, you should purchase restricted keys. This generally requires replacing the cylinders in your locks, which makes the locks themselves more secure also. There are three levels of restricted keys. GOOD: keys which are only available at certain locations, such as Schlage Primus. An authorization card is usually required to obtain more keys. BETTER: keys which are protected by utility patents, such as Schlage Everest-Primus and Medeco Freedom. Authorization cards are required and there is a $10,000 fine for unauthorized duplication. BEST: keys which can only be cut at the factory, such as Medeco DL. Authorization cards are required, the $10,000 fine applies, and records of each key cut are kept in a central location. Of course, none of this will protect you against someone who borrows your key and won't give it back or lies about having lost the key. In those situations, you need to have your locks rekeyed.




Emerald City Locksmith at 1229 W7th Ave, Eugene, OR, 97402.