Sunday, March 05, 2006

Keys to the kingdom

I recently managed to leave a house key in a Hotel Safe. It is a long and rather dull story, so I won't bother.

Visiting B&Q for some new heavy power cable for a new cooker, I noticed that they now cut keys so handed over mine to duplicate. Their key cutting machine is very high tech and appears to require minimal skill by the Operator (a definite bonus in retail, especially in DIY stores. It isn't a bonus for the Customer though!). He opened a little door and put the key in. The machine then moved it around inside, measuring it to get an accurate profile. It presumably then informed the operator which blank to choose, as he opened up a storage cupboard behind and chose a key from a numbered bin. Putting the key in place via the little door again, the machine then proceeded to measure the blank to make sure it was suitable. It then ground the notches accordingly, presenting the finished product back at the access door. The operator then removed it, ran it through a grinding aperture (presumably to remove burrs) and returned it, after comparing it to the original and commenting that it was fairly worn. (Well it would be, it has been used at least twice a day for more than a decade).

The machine itself was a tall square cabinet, with windows on three sides, horizontal slit windows so you could see the wonders within (lit by those blue LEDs that seem to find their way into most appliances these days). It was probably very heavy, as it had fork holes at the base, with a warning not to lift it more than one inch clear of the ground (so presumably a high centre of gravity as well). The blurb said that it was "Laser key (R)- cut to work first time, every time! Laser Key (R) uses the latest scanning and robotics technology, which can correct for wear and tear, to cut a precision key that will afford trouble free operation."

Did it? Did it buggery. It would open the door with a fair bit of fiddling about but it didn't live up to the hype.

Laserkey (R) has a website at but last time I looked it was just a holding page.

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