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Making a Key for an Older Wilson Bohannan Padlock

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GWiens2001

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Post Thu Jan 30, 2014 10:54 pm

Making a Key for an Older Wilson Bohannan Padlock

Key made for older Wilson Bohannan Padlock

Won a padlock on eBay without a key. Blanks for this model are a little hard to come by, so decided to make a key from scratch.

It is an older Wilson Bohannan padlock:

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Wait a second. That ain't that old, and key blanks are not terribly difficult to get. :evil:

Did I say an older Wilson Bohannan? Silly me. :oops: Meant to say an older Wilson Bohannan padlock.

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Yeah, that's more like it. :twisted: By the markings, it is easily identified in the old WB catalogs as being sold from 1886 until 1890. (Wilson Bohannan has all their old catalogs downloadable in PDF format on their website!!!)

Like I was saying, Home Depot doesn't carry blanks. The local lock shops claimed they didn't have them either. :roll:

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Started with some 5/16"x1" (8mm x 25.4mm) rectangular brass stock.

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Filed it to a nice flat surface on the end.

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Now, we need to trace the keyway. Easiest way is to place some paper over the keyway, and press it down with your thumb to get an impression.

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Now cut it out and place it on the flat end of the brass stock.

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Trace the keyway onto the brass. (Decided to angle it so the key bow would still be straight up and down when the key is put into the lock.

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Now before cutting, need to get the hole drilled in the key shaft. Measure the diameter of the post in the keyway.

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Find a drill bit that is slightly larger in diameter:

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Use a drill bit and tape to determine how deep to drill.

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Now drill the hole. Start with a small drill bit and gradually increase diameter until the right drill bit size is reached. Make sure the hole is absolutely straight. And if you look at the keyway above, the post is slightly off center, so it is no accident the hole is drilled off center as well.

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Now mark the estimated key shaft length. You can use the lock body to help.

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Now draw lines straight down to show where the key needs to be cut (and not cut).

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And rough cut the key blade and shaft. Do not cut too close! It is much easier to file it to the correct size and shape than to restart the whole process all over again.

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Start filing it smooth and to shape:

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OK, so you think your blank is ready. :-) Let's see if the lock agrees. First, out comes my famous Sharpie marker. (When not doing a pictorial, do not use a marker nearly as much. When taking pictures, marks show up much better if the key is marked first).

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Move aside the dust shutter and try to put the key into the lock.

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:?

Well, did not really expect it to fit perfectly the first time. Now what?

Remove the key and look at the ink marks, of course.

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File where you see marks (just like impressioning), and further up the key blade if you see a widening trend.

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Repeat the above steps until the key goes smoothly into the lock.

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But the key does not fit even close to the depth it should be according to the lock body! Look at the key tip. (You did mark it, didn't you?)

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Yup. There is a tip cut. Cut where you see marks, and continue the cuts all the way across the width of the key blade. I used a dremel with a fine diamond bit so I could make the cut curve, as the keys would.

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Re-mark the tip and repeat until the key fits fully into the lock without marking the tip cut area.

Now you can look and see how much you will need to cut the key blade (from the key bow side) for the key to turn.

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File the blade until you can see that it would clear the lock body (the throat cut)...

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... if it were not for that ward near the middle of the key blade in the above picture. It does leave a mark showing where to file.

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You guessed it! File where you see the mark(s) across the full width of the key blade.

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Repeat until the key can turn smoothly in both directions in the lock (until it hits the lever]

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Great! We are ready to impression the lock! :twisted:

Mark your key blade:

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Put the key into the lock and turn it until you feel the key press in the lever(s). It will have a slightly springy feel. Do not force the key or you risk damaging the lock. Just turn it like you expect the lock to open, back off and repeat a couple of times.

Remove and inspect the key for impressioning marks.

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File only where you see marks. The look of the marks will change as you go!

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Re-mark the cut area, and repeat until...

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:mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

Clean off the marker and admire your handiwork!

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Congratulations! You now have a working key!

***Begin television announcer voice***

But wait!!! Are you saying "That deal just 'alright'"??? We're NOT DONE!!!. If you act today, we will even throw in instructions for making a key bow ABSOLUTELY FREE!!!

Yes, the first five hundred readers of this thread get this added bonus at no additional cost!!!

***End television announcer voice***

Draw the rough shape of your key bow onto your brass.

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Center punch several small holes a small distance from the inner edge of your key bow. These will help keep the drill bit from wandering. (This is my first attempt at a ring-shaped key bow made from scratch, so bear with me a we learn this together).

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Now drill small holes

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And progressively larger holes until they meet, dropping out the center of the hole.

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If you have no power tools, you are in for a lot of filing. If you do have them, put a carbide burr bit into your drill...

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And cut to the inside edge of the key bow.

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Now grab your Dremel tool and put in a cutting bit and bevel the [inner] edges if the key bow. Trust me, don't do the outside part yet. Will explain that later.

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Now cut some long, thin strips of sandpaper or emery cloth and feed one end through the hole in the key bow.

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Holding one end in each hand, sand the inner edges of the key bow until the filing marks are gone. Use progressively finer sandpaper until you get your desired finish. This has an advantage of being pretty easy to do, and gives you the round shape on the key bow.

***Back to television announcer voice***

Did we mention that this shapes and polishes both sides of the key bow with no extra effort??? Now that is value!

***gunshot rings out, and the television announcer drops dead to the floor***

Here you can see one side of the inner key bow sanded:

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Turn the key around and repeat.

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The reason for only bevelling and sanding the inner edge of the key bow first was so your vice can solidly hold the key while you comfortably worked on the inside of the bow.

Now bevel the outside edge, being extra careful around the key shaft - you don't want to mess it up!

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Now use a flat needle file to round the outer edge. Don't need perfection here as we still have to sand.

TIP: Use a strip of thick plastic cut from a jug to protect the key shaft while filing!

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Do the above steps for both the top and bottom of the key bow. When done, both sides should look like this:

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Repeat on the back half of the key bow using thick cloth in the vice to protect the part of the key bow already worked on. Then sand in the same manner as for the inside edges if the key bow. It should end up looking something like this:

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And the best part of your new key...

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It opens the lock!

Hope it was worth the read. ;-)

Gordon
Just when you think you've learned it all, that is when you find you haven't learned anything yet.
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Blacky

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Post Thu Jan 30, 2014 10:57 pm

Re: Making a Key for an Older Wilson Bohannan Padlock

WWWOOOOOOOOWWWW this really good work :ugeek:
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macgng

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Post Thu Jan 30, 2014 11:01 pm

Re: Making a Key for an Older Wilson Bohannan Padlock

super nice job! thanks for the tutorial!
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jharveee

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Post Fri Jan 31, 2014 1:37 am

Re: Making a Key for an Older Wilson Bohannan Padlock

Great stuff!
Your tutorial is an inspiration.

Thanks
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Oldfast

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Post Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:29 am

Re: Making a Key for an Older Wilson Bohannan Padlock

GWiens2001 wrote:....Hope it was worth the read.

INDEED it WAS! Great stuff Gordon.... great stuff! A labor of love, a work of art. You're gettin' good.
Ever looked into to adding a patina to your keys? There's quite a variety of ways to go about it and
there's no shortage of info on the net. Just a thought... cause I know you love a good experiment :)
I started looking into it & experimenting a bit myself, but turned into one of those unfinished projects.

Thanks so much for documenting all that! Really enjoyed it.
" Enjoy the journey AS MUCH as the destination."
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piotr

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Post Fri Jan 31, 2014 7:23 am

Re: Making a Key for an Older Wilson Bohannan Padlock

Impressive work.
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femurat

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Post Fri Jan 31, 2014 9:22 am

Re: Making a Key for an Older Wilson Bohannan Padlock

I didn't notice the post was slightly off center until you mentioned it. I was going to think you made the hole wrong... well done my friend! I guess Lauren would be proud of you!

As I saw the finished key, I had the same idea Oldfast had. The key needs a patina to match the padlock. I've been told to pee in a plastic jug and let the key there overnight. No joke. It was a trick to make new steel keys look like old ones. Dunno if it works with brass too. Or you may try to heat the key with fire to speed up the oxidation process. Just use a piece of scrap to test these ideas before attempting it on your beautiful key!

Cheers :)
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jeffmoss26

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Post Fri Jan 31, 2014 1:02 pm

Re: Making a Key for an Older Wilson Bohannan Padlock

Very nice job!! Thanks for sharing.
macgng: i just thought the cat was a real tiny bear
GWiens2001: Great video! Learned a lot about what fun can be had with a forklift and a chainsaw.
pmaxey83: but i first have to submit the proper forms for a new hobby to my wife
xeo: i root for the kernel
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klafaille

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Post Tue Feb 04, 2014 7:06 pm

Re: Making a Key for an Older Wilson Bohannan Padlock

Hell of a write-up! Very nice!
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DIY Dave

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Post Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:38 pm

Re: Making a Key for an Older Wilson Bohannan Padlock

Great job, thanks for the instructions. Now I need to get started on my old padlocks
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ARF-GEF

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Post Wed Feb 05, 2014 10:52 pm

Re: Making a Key for an Older Wilson Bohannan Padlock

Amazing work Gordon! With hands like that you should be a sculptor, seriously!
To infinity... and beyond!
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MrWizard

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Post Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:14 am

Re: Making a Key for an Older Wilson Bohannan Padlock

Gordon

Wow that is a work of art alright. Sculpted it like an artist would chisel a statue out of a chunk of rock. Nice job on making the ring key head. Excellent first key for a classic lock.

Richard
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GWiens2001

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Post Thu Feb 06, 2014 2:51 am

Re: Making a Key for an Older Wilson Bohannan Padlock

Used to win ice carving competitions back when I was a chef. :-D This is an entirely different thing, though.

My thanks to all of you for your kind words of encouragement.

Gordon

P.S. Next key to be written up (almost done with it)... key for a Gougler. ;-)
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Lauren

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Post Thu Feb 06, 2014 4:44 am

Re: Making a Key for an Older Wilson Bohannan Padlock

These WB padlocks were all single lever design. The manufacturer would change the position of the ward plate to prevent similar keys from being used on other locks. Unfortunately, there was limited combinations, so WB created a multitude of different keyhole patterns, some with upper and lower concentric warding around the center pin. The stepped center pin design is one of my favorites and is the hardest to make keys.

If you have a drill press and cross vise, the art of making these barrel keys becomes more controllable. I see the vision in this post-an effort to make the key head look more like a cast key rather machined.

Overall, a great effort.
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Papa Gleb

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Post Tue Aug 04, 2015 10:15 pm

Re: Making a Key for an Older Wilson Bohannan Padlock

Great write up Gorden. Very happy I stumbled upon it. Did you ever get to making a write up on the Gougler, whatever that is.
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