Free Estimate: 301-886-0287    info@stcharlesmdlocksmith.com


FAQ Ask A Locksmith

What is a locksmith?

A locksmith is a trained professional that has invested a long period of time in training and thousands of dollars in equipment so they can handle just about any locking or security device.

What is an original key?

An original key is the one that comes with a brand new lock set.  Most locksmiths advise that you put your original keys aside after creating duplicate keys, since the original key is the most accurate key that will ever be made for that lock.

What is a duplicate key?

These are the keys that you would use every day.  When they wear down, new ones can be cut from the original key.

What is a construction key?

Construction keys are used on building projects where anyone with the key may enter the building.  Construction keys are mechanically invalidated after a normal service key is inserted and turned for the first time in the lock.

Why don’t keys from the hardware store always work?

Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.  The problem is that the people operating the key machines aren’t dedicated professionals.  Their key machines might be calibrated one per year, whereas a locksmith has a vested interest in making a good key every time.  The blank keys cost money, and we don’t get free replacements like the hardware store when they mess up a blank.  Our machines are calibrated at least monthly.

Should I get car keys from the dealer?

You can, and it’s very likely you’ll get a good, satisfactory key for your vehicle.  A locksmith can often provide such a key at a lower cost, since dealerships are not in the business of saving you money.  It is almost always a bad idea to get an automotive key from the non-professional hardware or box store.  It’s not simply that the key might not work, but an improperly manufactured key could get stuck in an intermediate position permanently jamming the lock.  Imagine the cost if your car’s starter motor got stuck in the run position.  Is a new starter motor worth the few pennies you’ll save by not going to a professional locksmith?

What is re-keying?

This is where we change the pins in the cylinder of the lock so that a key will no longer operate it.  A new key is made for that lock and all previous keys are invalidated.  They should be done when you move into a new house, since you have no idea who may still have a key.  It is a much less expensive alternative than changing a good quality expensive lock.

Is a high-security lock worth the cost?

High-security locks are almost unpickable, are not bumpable, and blank keys for making duplicates are only available from the factory with a signature card proving ownership of the lock.  Depending on what you’re trying to protect, yes they are well worth the money.

Can a tow truck driver unlock my car?

It’s possible, particularly if your car is older than 10 years.  Modern cars have gotten much more sophisticated to prevent people with a “Slim Jim” from gaining easy access to your vehicle.  The risk of damage to your car door panel is very high, and can exceed $200 in repairs in the hands of a non-professional.  Locksmiths use finesse, not force, and can open your door safely, without damage.

Please feel free to call us with your questions, or drop us a line.  We’d love to get to know you here at St. Charles Locksmith.