Master Keying

Master Key Systems – Planned, Implemented & Installed

Tired of all those keys? Let ACME Locksmith Master Rekey Your to Get You Down to One Key.

master keying

What is a Master Keying?

Master rekeying is when a lock is pinned so that it works using more than one key. The keys are cut differently. Each differently cut key opens a specific set of doors. This can allow one person to have key that opens many doors (for example, an entire building), but another person’s key may only open their office door. Master keying improves the overall security of your business, prevents theft, and saves money over the long run by giving employees access to only the locks they need access to.

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Why You Need a Master Key System

Needs a Master Key System
Too Many Keys Weighing You Down?

A regular rekey, where one key works every lock, is a typical residential lock service, but master keying if more common in locks of businesses.

An ideal example of this would be for a group of office doors within your commercial building that house a particular division. You may want the director of that division to have a key that works every office door within the division, but you may only want individual team members to have keys to their own office.

When the locks were originally installed, the lock cylinders usually work from just a single key. Meaning your cleaning crew and/or managers may have to carry a huge key ring for all the office doors or store them in a key cabinet someplace.

Additionally, over the course of your business’s growth, facilities are added and managers come and go. Locks are installed, door hardware is changed, and keys are lost.

In the end, your businesses senior staff may have twenty, thirty, or even more keys they need to keep track of to get into any one door.

The more senior you are, the more you have access to, the bigger your key ring gets! If you need to gain entry to one specific office when a manager is away, a ton of time is wasted tracking down the right key.

What ends up happening is that staff with offices are told not to lock their doors, and this introduces a major security risk for your business, because anyone can now go anywhere without needing a key.

Master Keying Provides a Better Solution

In a master key system, senior staff can have one key that operated every lock in the company: every deadbolt, every door, every padlock, every storage location, everything. They carry one key and can access everything. Then, moving down in seniority, department heads can have one key that works every door in just their department.

Let’s take a legal department as an example. Even though the legal department head’s key works every key in the legal department, it won’t work any door lock outside of the legal department. However, the senior staff or owner’s key will still open each door within the legal department because the locks are master keyed and work with two different keys.

Going further down the chain of command, office staff can then have a key that works only their individual offices.

The above is an example of a three-level master-key system.

  • Office staff have keys to just their individual doors, that is the first level.
  • Department heads have a key that works every office in the department. This is the second level.
  • Sr Staff or Owners have a key that works every door in every department. The third level.
Example of a Master Key System Using Color Coding to Show Who Has Access to a Particular Door

Master keying can even go a step further. If you have multiple locations you simply add another level to the key system (one key for each office, one key for each department, one key that works the entire building and one key that works every building).

Benefits of Master Keying You Building

Security: Master key systems restrict access for individuals to only those doors that the individual should have access to. You can keep doors locked in off hours and be assured that no one that shouldn’t have access to a specific door has access to it. If an employee is ever let go, rekeying (changing the locks to work with a new key) for security purposes will only need to be done at the level that the individual had a key. If they were a department head, you only need to rekey the doors in the department they belonged to. Note: You can avoid rekeying when an employee is terminated if you use a restricted key system.

Convenience: Business owners, senior staff, managers, etc…will only have one key to keep track of and that key will work every door they need to get into to.

Consider the master key chart shown above. In this masterkey system the Executive Officer / Owner has access to every door (Green) and access to other doors is limited based on function.

What to Expect When Your Locksmith Creates a Master Key System

ACME Locksmith will sit down with your team to plan out your masterkey system. Simple systems can be planned in just a few minutes, more complex systems with a little more time.

We will floorplan your lock access based on the information provided so that every door and lock is accessible to those that need it, and after our master rekey of your building, everything works as expected. We’ve successfully completed key systems for buildings with over 400 doors and corporations with dozens of locations.

When planning a master rekey, care must be taken to ensure that a key for one specific door won’t accidentally open any other door. ACME will put together a key chart that provides the cuts needed for keys to ensure this doesn’t happen.

We will maintain this chart for you as a benefit to your business. If down the road key changes need to occur ACME Locksmith will know what key cuts are available to use so that added keys won’t accidently open doors they aren’t suppose to open.

In most cases, no new door hardware is needed to put you on a master key system. The only exceptions are when the building is very old (where misc door hardware has been added over the years) or you are interested in adding padlocks that work on the same key system.

How is a Lock Master Rekeyed?

Single Key Cylinder Pinning

The traditional way to rekey a lock cylinder is shown. When a lock cylinder uses one key, the cylinder chamber has one set of bottom pins (red) and another set of top pins (blue).

When a key is inserted, a shear line is created between the red and blue pins so that the cylinder can spin and open the lock.

In a master pinned cylinder, an additional pin (or additional set of pins) are added between the top and bottom pins.

A Master Pinned Cylinder Has More Than One Shear Line

Stacking of these pins this way creates additional shear lines so that multiple keys can be used in the cylinder. In the image on the right you see several green pins added.

If I wanted the lock to only work with two keys, I would add only one green pin to create a second shear line.

If I add several pins, as shown, I create several different new shear lines and the lock can work with several different keys. This is important if you have a very large corporation and want several keys to work one door.

As mentioned earlier, creating shear lines like this can accidentally lead to one key from one door working another door it is not suppose to. ACME Locksmith uses software when designing these systems that provides us with the key cuts necessary for hundreds of keys to ensure that this never doesn’t happen.