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Key Cutting Guide – Questions and Answers

Key Cutting Guide

Our guide to key cutting covers popular questions we get asked, such as how long it takes to cut keys, the cost to cut a key, replacing broken keys to specific types of security keys a locksmith can cut.

If you have lost your keys, or just want a spare you will want to know where is the best place to get new keys cut and the price it will cost.

This guide should answer all your questions key cutting related.

We will cover the following topics:

  1. Time to cut keys 
  2. Where to get keys cut  
  3. Cost to cut  
  4. Broken keys
  5. Copying keys
  6. Security keys  
  7. Spare keys
  8. Making keys 

1. How long does key cutting take?

For a list of estimated times to cut keys, please read our key cutting price list which includes times.

“Yale” key ( small )

a small silver Yale type key

What a small “Yale” type looks like

For a standard “Yale” type key ( smaller keys ) it takes less than a minute to cut; 25 seconds to find the correct key blank, 5 seconds to cut and 5-15 seconds to prepare the key for the customer.

The most amount of time taken will be on finding the correct key blank.

Mortice and “Chubb” keys ( larger )

a large gold mortice key

What a standard mortice / “Chubb” type key looks like

Mortice (lever), often referred to as “Chubb” keys ( larger keys ) can take longer, up to 5 minutes, as they use different machines to cut the key and is more difficult to find the correct blank.

Safe keys

a silver safe key with double bitted end

What a safe key looks like – double bitted

Standard safe keys take around 20-25 minutes, as they are difficult to cut, and might need cutting and finishing by hand. Some safe keys are double bitted, and these can take a lot longer to cut.

2. Where can I get a key cut near me?

To find a locksmith near you, please use our search tool to locate a key cutting shop or a mobile locksmith who can cut keys on site.    Mobile locksmiths will be able to help with lost keys and replace broken keys as well.

The Cost To Cut Keys

3. How much does it cost to cut a key?

The average price cut a key start from around £5.25 for a house key.   Prices usually start from the following:

  • Basic Yale Key – Around £5.25 
  • Mortice and Chubb Type keys – from about £7
  • Safe keys – start from approx £22 to £36.50 for a double bitted safe key, due to the time taken to cut the key.  Safe keys that are double bitted can be more expensive.

The cost increases for different types of keys due to the time it takes to cut the key and the type of blank used; some blanks are more expensive than others.

NOTE: The above prices are a guide, especially safe keys as rates can vary.  Prices can vary in different regions of the UK,  for example, London may more expensive than others.

For a full list of prices, please read our key cutting price list.

4.  How much does a security key cost to cut on average?

The average price is around £20, this is more expensive than a standard key as they take longer to cut the key.  Pricing can vary on security keys as sometimes keys have to be ordered from somewhere else.

Broken Keys

5. Can you cut a key from a broken key?

It is possible, as long as the parts are available and parts of the key are too damaged, the locksmith will need all the broken pieces though.  They will be able to find the correct key blank and cut a new key that can be used in the existing lock.

If the key is too damaged, the locksmith can easily make a key to fit the lock.

6. What to do if you break a key in the lock?

This is time to call a locksmith.   They will remove the broken parts of the key from the lock, then using a key machine in the van, the locksmith can cut a new key.

Copying Keys

7. What is a ‘do not copy’ / ‘do not duplicate’ key?

The phrase “do not copy” or “do not duplicate”  means the key is restricted, either fitted by a landlord or owner of the property and is to stop copies being reproduced.   Only a key that has a patent can truly be said to be restricted.

Do not duplicate key

A example of a ‘do not duplicate’ key – Image from Mul-T-Lock

8. Can you make a key that cannot be copied?

The locksmith should be able to produce a patented key which is very difficult to copy, although not impossible,  Keys such as security keys with a mechanical element in them are much more difficult to copy than ones without.

Basically, there is no key in the world that would be impossible to copy.

However, it is possible to legally protect a key from being copied by unauthorised people by using a patent.

Security Keys

9. I have a security key, can a locksmith cut the key?

Avocet ABS Security Key

What a Security Key looks like

If the locksmith has supplied the key, he may be able to provide you with a copy, but it depends who has originally registered the key, such as the owner, letting agent or landlord.

This also depends on if the blank is freely available or restricted.  The locksmith may be able to order a key on your behalf with the correct letter of authorisation.

10. My key has the code ‘MLA’ on, followed by three numbers

The code MLA on the key means a locksmith holds the license to the key and is the only person who can replace the key for you.

To find the licensee for the key, please contact MLA headquarters either by email on or by calling us on 01327 262255

11. How do I get restricted keys cut?

If you know which locksmith originally supplied the key you can contact them directly for additional keys.  If not the locksmith should be able to obtain the key for you if you provide a letter of authorisation.

12. Can you duplicate a patented key?

Mul-T-Lock Patented Key

What a Patented Key looks like – Image from Mul-T-Lock

Patented keys need to be supplied by the originating centre, who will have a license agreement with the manufacturer to supply the keys.  If you don’t know who it is your local locksmith should be able to obtain the keys for you with a letter of authorisation.

13. Where can I get Ultion keys cut?

Ultion Brisant Key

What a Ultion Brisant key looks like

Locksmiths who are Ultion dealers can cut Ultion keys – their contact details will be on the Ultion website.  There are copy blanks available for the Ultion range, but the manufacturers state that only genuine keys should be used – using a copy key invalidates the warranty.

To find who is registered to cut the key, there should be a name on the key and code, you should contact Ultion who can specify who the key is registered to.

Spare Keys

14. Can a landlord have a spare key?

This depends on the letting agent, between them and the landlord they should have a set of spare keys if it is rented.

Making Keys

15. Can a locksmith make a key from a picture

It is possible, but only for specific types of keys, usually, the key would have to be the original and the locksmith would need to know the brand of the key from the picture.  This all depends on the skill and experience of the locksmith.

Locksmiths approved by the Master Locksmiths Association are Vetted, Inspected & Qualified.

Further Reading

Why use a MLA Approved Locksmith?

All locksmith companies approved & licensed by Master Locksmiths Association are:

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Our Locksmiths are criminal record checked.
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Locksmith Inspection
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Our Locksmiths are Regularly Inspected.
How we inspect our locksmiths

Locksmith Qualification
All our Master Locksmiths are criminal record checked


Our Locksmiths have passed the MLA exam.
Read about MLA Exam here

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