How to Find Replacement Skeleton Keys For Old Locks

Key Takeaway

  • Skeleton keys are generic keys designed to open multiple locks within a specific system or keyway. They were commonly used in older locks and antique hardware.
  • To find a replacement skeleton key, explore antique shops, flea markets, and online marketplaces for potential replacement keys. 
  • One surefire way is to entrust a skilled locksmith to craft a new key based on precise measurements.

If you’ve read my article on picking skeleton key locks a long time ago, you would remember that our house in Toronto had a skeleton key lock when we first moved in there. Along the way, we replaced that lock with a smart lock, however we got it installed on one of the inner doors just to keep the charm.  

And as luck would have it, we lost the key to the lock. Now we don’t require security on inner doors, however there are times when you do require some sort of privacy. And this gave way to our search for a replacement skeleton key. 

In this article, I am going to share what all steps we took to find a replacement. I will also share the price quote that we received from locksmiths in our area.  

What is a Skeleton Key?

What is a Skeleton Key?

A skeleton key is a type of key that is designed to open multiple locks, typically locks within a specific system or keyway. Unlike standard keys, which are uniquely cut to match a single lock’s internal mechanism, a skeleton key has a simpler and more generic design that can bypass the security mechanisms of various locks within its intended system.

Skeleton keys are often associated with older locks and antique hardware, where they were used to simplify access for individuals who needed to operate multiple locks, such as homeowners or servants in historic mansions. These keys are typically flat and have a minimal number of notches or cuts, making them capable of turning the lock’s bolt or latch without requiring a precise match to the lock’s internal pins, levers, or wards.

All The Places Where You Can Find Skeleton Key Replacement

There are several interesting methods to acquire a replacement key for your antique lock. While having the replacement key crafted is certainly one option, it’s not the sole approach. Let’s explore each method individually.

Antique Shops & Flea Markets

Initiate your search for replacement skeleton keys by exploring antique shops, perusing flea markets, and scouring online marketplaces. These venues often yield a variety of old keys, including skeleton keys.

While finding an exact match may prove rare, you may encounter a key with a similar keyway shape that can be modified to fit your lock. Don’t shell out more than $10 for such a key in any scenario.

Online Marketplaces

You can easily find skeleton key replacement (universal key) on online marketplaces like Amazon or HomeDepot. The only downside that I encountered was that these come in numbers. I found it difficult to find a single key. 

Getting a New Key Crafted by the Locksmith

Ideally calling a locksmith should have been the first and the most obvious option however our experience taught us otherwise. 

There are a very few locksmiths these days who are comfortable with old locks as their usage is not prevalent. And out of this small set, those who can work with a skeleton key are even smaller. All this results in a very high price quote. 

We were given a price quote of $40-$60 to make the key beside the visitation charges. We felt that such a high cost was not worth it just to keep the charm.

Therefore if locksmiths in your area are reasonably priced and can make a replacement skeleton key, then it is best to get it done from them. However, if they are very expensive (as in our case), then I suggest buying them from online marketplaces.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How do I maintain antique locks and skeleton keys? 

Answer – To maintain antique locks and skeleton keys, keep them clean and free of dirt or rust. Lubricate locks with appropriate oils or lubricants. Store keys in a dry and secure place to prevent corrosion.

Q2. Are skeleton key locks considered secure?

Answer – Skeleton key locks are not regarded as highly secure due to their simplistic design and the absence of additional security features. Furthermore, these locks are susceptible to unauthorized duplication, which could lead to unauthorized access to the locked area.

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Hey! I am Mark. Though I am not a locksmith by profession, but locks have always fascinated me since my teens. And it all started when I got locked out of my house and I had to pick the lock. Since then it has become my hobby to learn more about different kinds of locks, understand their working and methods to pick them up. In due course of time, I have also become better aware of how installing the right lock goes a long way in ensuring iron clad security. I aim to share my passion (about locks) through this blog. If you are also passionate about picking locks or are just looking to beef up the security, hop on the ride.