How to Start a Key Cutting Business

How to Start a Key Cutting Business

If you’re considering starting a key cutting business, you’ll be providing people with a valuable service. Businesses that provide key cutting services tend to do so as an extension of a locksmith or hardware store business. Little training is required to cut even the most complex key using a key cutting machine.

Everyone has a set of important keys especially those that open house doors.  Often they want to provide a duplicate key to a family member or friend and will need to have a new key cut.  Key cutting as a stand-alone business is a low volume, low revenue generating business. However, you can increase both your business’ volume and revenue by providing a unique key-cutting business.

Key cutting has become more and more accessible to companies in recent years in non-traditional key cutting businesses like dry cleaners and newsstands due to the high-profit margins available with a low-cost of production for each key.  Key cutting is a means for those businesses to diversify their service offerings relatively inexpensively when providing customer’s a needed service.

Key Equipment Needs

Keys are cut using specific key-cutting machines and key blanks. Key machines can be operated manually or automatically and range in price from about $400 to $1,000. This is a large outlay to set up your initial business however once the money for the machine itself is recouped, everything else with the exception of your stock of key blanks is profit. Blanks are the raw material that is used as the draft template for carving the original key’s specific groove patterns to produce a duplicate key.

Inventory of Blank keys

Stock a variety of key blanks to ensure you’re able to make a requested key whomever the originator of the key.  The hardest part off key cutting is not the cutting of the key but is instead the identifying of the key. There are 1000’s of different keys in use.  Some are very common and others are relatively rare. There are a large number of different lock and key manufacturers whether for automotive, motorcycle, entry doors, or boats.  You’ll need to have blank keys for most of the key projects you’ll encounter.

Have a supply of everyday key blanks such as those used for residential door locks as well as a few odd and hard to find key blanks. Buy key blanks wholesale to have adequate inventory on hand.  Key blanks are sold in small lots on a per blank basis, starting from about $.50 up to $2.00 depending on whether the key is hard to find.  You can usually buy a starter kit of key blanks as well as a package of a key machine and key blanks.   Mark up your key cutting prices as much as 3 times the cost of the key blank.