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Making a key for a Best SFIC Without Disassembling the Core

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GWiens2001

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Lock-Goblin-Gordon
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Post Sat May 23, 2015 6:29 am

Making a key for a Best SFIC Without Disassembling the Core

My thanks to Papa Gleb for asking me to make a key for a core at the time I decided it was time to make this post.

Making Keys for Best SFIC Cores Without Disassembling the Core

Over time, have seen several people asking how to go about making keys for SFIC cores when you don't have the tools to properly take apart and reassemble the cores.

While there are methods of improvising tools which have been discussed, this post will take a different angle on the job. The only tools needed are blanks in the correct keyway, a fine point marker, a shim from a security tag, a micrometer, and, finally, a file to cut the keys.

Unlike most of my threads, this will not have a lot of pictures.

First, get a shim from a security tag.

Image

Yes, that one is ready for replacement. But it still did the job. :D

First, lay your shim on top of the core from the back end of the core. Align the front edge of the shim with the back of the first pin. Now use your fine point marker to make a mark at the back of each pin (based on the caps).

Image

This is so you can be sure that you have not only located each pin location, but you also know when you have shimmed every pin stack.

Now shim the first pin. Remember, with an SFIC lock, the bittings are numbered from the tip of the key. In this case, placed the shim at the control shear line from the back of the core. A pick or a key blank is used to move the pins up and down until the shear line is reached, at which point the shim will move in until it is stopped by the next pin stack.

Image

Once you have shimmed the first pin, keep going until you have shimmed all pin stacks on the shear line you are shimming.

Image

Now that you have shimmed the shear line you want a key made for, what do you do next? Make five depth keys, with only the first bitting (at the tip of the key) cut. Have the depths be for every even bitting depth. (0, 2, 4, 6 and 8). The micrometer will help you get accurate depths. Will explain why no odd depths in a moment.

Make sure you do not have a ramp between the first bitting and the tip of the key. This is important.

Hold the depth key alongside the top of the core, lining it up with where the key would normally stop if it were put into the keyhole normally. Mark the front edge of each pin as shown by the caps.

Now take a marker and mark the leading edges of the depth keys. You are now ready to start decoding the key for the shear line. :D

Slide the depth key cut to an 8 depth into the lock until it is stopped by the pin. Wiggle it slightly. (There is no need to tension the key before wiggling. We are not impressioning the lock).

If the key will not go into the lock far enough to reach your first mark, then you are done - it is a 9 depth.

How do we know this? Because a 9 depth can not be raised above a 9 depth since the shim won't let the pin rise above a 9. If it was an 8 depth, you would see the key go in far enough to reach the first mark, then stop. If it is a cut that is higher than an 8, the key will stop after the mark for the first pin.

If the key can go all the way to the first pin mark on the 8 depth key, pull out the key and look face-on to the front of the key. If you see a mark further up the ramp after the depth cut, then try to find the depth key that is closest to that depth.

Assuming the 8 goes in past that first pin mark, then grab and try the six depth key. If the key won't go in far enough to reach the first mark, then it is a 7 cut , since an 8 fits too deep, and a six would let you reach the first mark.

Repeat the process until you find the correct depth for the pin closest to the keyway entrance. Write that bitting depth down.

Next, remove the key, then pull the shim rearward until the pin stack closest to the keyway entrance snaps down.

You are now set up for the next pin stack. Repeat the above tests to find the correct bitting for each remaining pin location.

When finished, you will have the direct bitting for your core. Now use your micrometer and file to file a key for your lock.

Good luck!

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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Papa Gleb

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Post Mon May 25, 2015 6:09 pm

Re: Making a key for a Best SFIC Without Disassembling the C

Wow man that is just mind blowing but I dont think I get it lol. Any chance for a picture of those depth keys you made for the dull tools in the box :)
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GWiens2001

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Post Mon May 25, 2015 6:20 pm

Re: Making a key for a Best SFIC Without Disassembling the C

Papa Gleb wrote:Wow man that is just mind blowing but I dont think I get it lol. Any chance for a picture of those depth keys you made for the dull tools in the box :)


Not at home, but this should give the idea...

Image

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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escapenrv

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Post Mon May 25, 2015 7:54 pm

Re: Making a key for a Best SFIC Without Disassembling the C

Gordon...
Nice work once again. I have a Best padlock that I only have a user key for and I have not spent time to get the core out because I don't have any of the tools to make a control key.
Now I see how it can be done without any special tools. I'm glad you put some thought into this and shared your results.
I will get to work on my Best soon.

Steve
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Papa Gleb

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Post Mon May 25, 2015 8:20 pm

Re: Making a key for a Best SFIC Without Disassembling the C

Genius, Very clear and amazing write up mate.

Not sure if you guys smell it but its stickying to my nose hairs ;)

Last thought, I would recommend using an actual shim for this because those tag shims are much thinner and a pin pushed up by the key can cut into the shim leaving a piece behind. Happened to me a few weeks ago and I had to take the entire cylinder apart because it jammed up one of the pins.
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magician59

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Post Tue May 26, 2015 3:14 am

Re: Making a key for a Best SFIC Without Disassembling the C

Beautiful! This method beats my gauge wire to bits...gotta have the core picked to use my wire.
Nemo Malus Felix
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GringoLocksmith

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Post Tue May 26, 2015 5:53 am

Re: Making a key for a Best SFIC Without Disassembling the C

As always, excellent post. Thanks, Gordon.

Do say to use the security tag shim because its thinness is better suited to the tolerance of a Best lock, or because it's easy to find around the house?
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Oldfast

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Post Tue May 26, 2015 11:00 am

Re: Making a key for a Best SFIC Without Disassembling the C

Yes indeed, this is great stuff. Great stuff Gordon. Thanks for putting this together!

Particularly helpful for those of us (myself included) that have not yet invested in the tools required.

I've read through this a couple times now and think I understand it all pretty well.
I'm sure it takes some practice though to get use to. I smell a winter time project.
" Enjoy the journey AS MUCH as the destination."
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GWiens2001

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Post Tue May 26, 2015 12:35 pm

Re: Making a key for a Best SFIC Without Disassembling the C

GringoLocksmith wrote:As always, excellent post. Thanks, Gordon.

Do say to use the security tag shim because its thinness is better suited to the tolerance of a Best lock, or because it's easy to find around the house?


Both. These shims are very thin - much thinner than standard locksmith shims, and they are easily found.

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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Papa Gleb

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Post Tue May 26, 2015 9:57 pm

Re: Making a key for a Best SFIC Without Disassembling the C

so no one agrees on the sticky? Can I vote twice?
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magician59

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Post Wed May 27, 2015 2:36 am

Re: Making a key for a Best SFIC Without Disassembling the C

By all means: Sticky!
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Papa Gleb

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Post Wed May 27, 2015 4:32 pm

Re: Making a key for a Best SFIC Without Disassembling the C

Just got my cores back and wow Gordon made am amazing looking key which took me a minute to realize which is which lol. Ill post pics soon.

Sticky !!!
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9Point

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Post Fri Jul 19, 2019 4:41 pm

Re: Making a key for a Best SFIC Without Disassembling the C

This thread prompted me to try and shim to control a BEST core Out of the lock) and make a control key.


After I was finally able to shim to control (beginner, took a LONG time). I found a small dowel pin that fit into the hole at the bottom of the core below each pin stack. Next I measured each pin stack hole of the shimmed core. Dowel to capped side of the core. There is no need to know the dowel measurement or the any measurement of the core body. Just make a list of the measurements.


After making the six measurements, I compared the differences between measurements. Knowing the key biting is 0.0125" steps, I was able to determine possible depths for position 6. If I had bigger or smaller measurements for positions 1 to 5, I could established a range for the position 6.


Not having any depth keys, I tried just the tips of keys I had (first pulling the shim back until position 6 locked) If one worked, I could then measure the depth and have position 6 solved. If none worked, as was my case. I took an old key that did not work in anything I had, that had a first position with a lower bite number than I expected to work. I filed it to the first bite number on my list of possible depths and tried it. If it worked, 6 solved, if not I filed to the next depth.


Once solved for position 6, I determined by my measurements all the other positions. I took the difference in the measurement of 6 and compared to the next position and determined how many .0125" steps and direction (more or less) it was. I did this for each pin stack.


Then using my determined depths, I hand filed a key, pulled the shim and tried it. I worked!


Forgive me if I have any of the terminology wrong, I am just a beginner.
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tpark

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Post Wed Jul 24, 2019 1:15 am

Re: Making a key for a Best SFIC Without Disassembling the C

If the core's out, you can easily get the lock to control by using your thumb on the control tab, and then using something like a pin (like the ones for making clothing) with the tip cut off to set the pins. You can do this through the holes on the bottom of the core, where the ejector pin normally goes to push the pins out. Once it's set, you can do depth measurements on the pins through the holes and figure out what the control key is.

Usually I'm looking for a full decode of the core, so it's easier to use a tool like the LAB Annex to decode the stacks. It's much faster than other methods, and springs and caps are cheap.
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GWiens2001

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Lock-Goblin-Gordon
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Post Sun Jul 28, 2019 12:06 pm

Re: Making a key for a Best SFIC Without Disassembling the C

Am glad to see my old post still helps some people out. Also that they encourage others to think outside the box.

Agree with tpark that a Lab Annex is great and a real time saver. However, this thread is intended as a budget or hobbyist thread and to show that if you have the time you can do just about anything if you set your mind to it.

But I don't suggest you try becoming a wild bear whisperer just because you set your mind to it. ;)

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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