Designing A New Master Key System



New master key systems are created using the new Design Wizard.  The Wizard offers three ways to create new master key systems. 


Auto create which only requires the selection of a lock manufacturer, quantity of pin chambers in the lock and the quantity of master levels required.


Standard create which allows you to enter every detail needed to generate a master key system.  The standard method also has a random generator that let's you randomly select many options with the help of parameter settings.


And last, is Copy create which copies an existing master key systems structure to create a new system.



The standard method is shown here:


The Standard method allows you to create a new detailed master key system.  This method walks you through each component of designing a new master key system one item at a time.  Each component of the system can be directly entered to match an existing system or selected using the build in random functions.  Each component entered is fully tested to meet the lock manufacturers parameters.  Items failing a test will be displayed.  Any item failing a test that is not crucial to the creation or use of a master key system can be by-passed.  This is important when replicating an existing system, good or bad.

This tutorial shows the most common / basic design screens in the order they will be displayed for a simple master key system.  Depending on the lock manufacturer and options chosen additional design screens may be displayed as the system is being designed.  Those design screens are displayed at the end of this tutorial.


1.  Select File / New from he main menu or click the icon on the tool bar to display the Design Wizard.  On the Welcome page click the Next button and the Design Method screen will appear.


Method Page:

Design Wizard - Design Method Screen

2.  Click the Standard - Create Master Key System radio button.  Then click the Next button and the Lock Manufacturer screen will appear.


Manufacturer Page:

Design Wizard - Lock Manufacturer

3.  Open the Lock Manufacturer combo box.  Scroll through the list of Manufacturers and click on the appropriate lock manufacturer for this master key system.  When a selection is made the details for the selected manufacturer will be displayed in the Manufacturer Info tree.


4.  The default number of pin chambers will be displayed in the Pins combo box.  To change the number of pin chambers for this system open the Pins combo box.  Select the required pin chambers list.

5.  When you are finished selecting the lock manufacturer and pin chambers click the Next button and the Master Key screen will appear.

Master Key Page:

Design Wizard - Master Key


6.  The Master Key or Top Master can be entered directly or chosen via the random generator.


Use direct entry to use a master key of your choosing or to match an existing master key system.  Enter one bitting (key cut) for each pin chamber in the locks you are master keying.  The master key entered will be tested against all of the lock manufacturers rules, MAC (maximum adjacent cut) and Slope testing.  An entry failing the MAC or Slope test can be bypassed allowing an existing master key system to be replicated.  Entries failing a manufacturers rule can not be used as it will not work with the locks.

The random generator makes master keys based on your selection of the Depth Rule and Even Odd Rule.  First click on the radio button to the left of a Depth Rule.  The name of the rules are self explanatory.  Shallow will generate bittings (key cuts) that are shallow.  For example with a lock manufacturer with 10 possible depths this would choose depths ranging from 0 thru 4.  Deep will generate bittings (key cuts) with depths from 5 - 9.  Mixed will generate bittings (key cuts) for the full range of bitting depths from 0 - 9.  This option will only select key bittings that are within all test parameters.

To further restrict the random generation of a master key you can change the Even / Odd Rule.  The Strict option forces the randomly generated master key to have even - odd - even or odd - even - odd bittings.  The Balanced option will create an equal number of even and odd bittings in the master key.  The even and odd bittings will be randomly placed on the key, but, balanced in number.  For a totally random placement of even / odd bittings select the Off (Random) option.


7.   When you are finished selecting the master key click the Next button and the Rotation screen will appear.


Rotation Order Page:

Design Wizard - Rotation Order

8.  The Rotation Order determines how the master keys and change keys are progressed in the master key system.  Additionally, you can hold a number of pin chambers as constants (not progressed) to either add additional pick resistance to the locks that are master keyed or just reduce the total number of master pins used in a smaller master key system.


The rotation works like the odometer in your car.  While the odometer in your car progresses from right to left here you can change the order that the pin chambers (number columns) are progressed.  The lowest number (1) progresses first, followed by the second (2) and so on.  In a systems that progresses all of it's pin chambers there would be a number for each pin chamber.  For example a lock with 5 pin chambers would contain the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5.  A lock with 6 pin chambers would have the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6.  The numbers can be entered in any order.  This allows you to replicate a factory or competitor master key system.


To hold one ore more pin chambers as constants you would place a '0' at the position you want to hold as constant and reduce the numbered chambers by 1.  For example a 6 pin chamber lock that had one chamber as constant would use the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & a 0 in the constant chamber.  That same lock with two constant chambers would use 1, 2, 3, 4, 0 & 0.  Again, the numbers can be entered in any order.  The only limitation is that a minimum of three (3) chambers must be rotated (progressed).  Ie:  1, 2, 3, 0, 0 & 0.


You can also use the random generator to choose a random rotation.  To select a random rotation select an option from Direction.  Tip To Bow will select a rotation order that progresses the order from the tip to the bow of the key.  The Bow To Tip option will progress the system from bow to tip.  Random will mix the rotation order in a truly random order.


To add constant chambers with your randomly selected rotation order open the Qty Constant Chambers drop down combo box and selected the quantity of chambers you want to hold constant. 


9.   When you are finished selecting the master key click the Next button and the KBA Order screen will appear.


KBA (Key Bitting Array) Page:

Design Wizard - KBA Order


10.  The Rotation Order is like the odometer in your car so is the KBA (key bitting array).  The rotation selects the order that the pin chambers progress.  The KBA are the numbers displayed in that odometer.  The numbers in the key bitting array determine every master key and change key that will be generated for your master key system.  The order in which the numbers are presented determine how the keys will be generated.


The numbers displayed in each vertical column are the only bittings that can and will appear in that pin chamber.  The key bittings (numbers) shown in the key bitting array are used from the top to the bottom.  By changing the order of the bittings in each pin chamber you can alter how the keys are generated.

The key bitting array can be reordered by selecting one of the options.  Low To High will order the bittings from low to high.  High To Low will order the bittings from high to low.  And, random will, of course, order the bittings randomly.  To reorder the key bitting array manually just drag and drop the bittings of any column into the position you need.  The bittings can only be reordered in their original column.  They can not be moved from column to column.


The step increment determines what bittings are created for each pin chamber.  A Step Increment of 2 will generate either even or odd bittings.  A step of 1 will use all of the available bittings in a pin chamber.  For example 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.  To change the step increment open the Step Increment drop down combo box and select the step requited.


A note:  A step of 1 will result in smaller master pins in your locks.  This should be avoided unless the manufacturer requires it or your really need the additional key bittings.


11.   When you are finished selecting the master key click the Next button and the Master Levels screen will appear.


Master Levels Page:

Design Wizard - Master Levels

12.  The master levels determine how the master key system divides it's master keys vs change keys.  Open the Level drop down combo box to view a summary of each option.  Select the levels option that best suits you requirements.  After you make your selection a more detailed layout tree displays a representative diagram of how your master key system will be generated.  By selecting less master key levels you will generate more change keys per page of codes.


13.   When you are finished selecting the master key click the Next button and the Key Sections screen will appear.


Key Sections Page:

Design Wizard - Key Sections

14.  The Key Sections screen allows you to add one or multiple sections (keyways) to a master key system.  Key sections can be added or deleted at any time after a master key system has been created.  To add key sections to the master key system during design open the Section File drop down combo box to see a list of available key sections group.  Select the lock manufacturer and section group you need.  The available key sections will be display in a tree in the Key Sections tree on the left.


To choose key sections for this master key system check the check-box associated with the wanted key section.  If a key sections is part of multiple groups it will automatically be selected in all groups.


15.  When you are finished selecting the master key click the Next button and the Save screen will appear.


Save Page:

Design Wizard - Save System


16.  Now that you have designed the master key system it needs to be saved.  If you want to open this master key system automatically after it is saved check the Display this Master Key System on Save box prior to clicking the Finish button.


17.  When you are finished designing the master key system click the Finish button to select a file name and directory.


Save As Dialog:

Design Wizard - Save File Dialog


18.  Enter the name for the master key system file in the File Name combo box.  Locate and select the directory for the file in the Save In combo box.  After you have selected the name and directory click the Save button and the master key system file will be created and saved.  If you check the Display on Save check-box as shown above the new master key system will be displayed after it is changed.



Other Design Wizard Screens


Construction Key Page:

Design Wizard - Construction Key


Some lock manufacturers support construction keying of their locks.  If the lock manufacturer you select supports construction keying this design screen will be displayed automatically immediately after the Rotation Order screen.  If you do not wish to add a construction key to the master key system simply skip this screen.  If you are planning on using a construction key at any time after this master key system is created follow these instructions.


Construction keying is accomplish by adding ball-bearings in the pin stack in place of a master pin.  Additionally, a receiver pocket or hole is drill in the lock plug to receive the ball-bearings.  When construction is completed and the new home owner operates the lock with the permanent key the ball-bearings drop into the receiver holes stopping the construction key from operating.  The ball-bearing depth is typically determined by the lock manufacturer and usually consists of three (3) ball-bearings in each pin chamber that is used for this operation.  This allows the ball-bearings to enter the receiver hole easier when the permanent key is first used.


To add a construction key just check the check box that represents the chamber you will be placing the ball-bearings.  Depending on the master key you have entered for this master key system not all pin chambers can be used.  This is due to simple math.  The program will do the math and indicate which pin chambers can be used.  As you check the required pin chambers the correct construction key will be displayed.


Control Key Page:

Design Wizard - Control Key


All interchangeable / removable core (IC) locks require a control key to install and remove the cores into their housings to operate.  All control keys are created using a complicated set of rule that are spelled out by the lock manufacturer.  All of the lock manufacturers' rules must be adhered to and can not be bypassed by the program.  Some tests like MAC (maximum adjacent cut) and Slope can be bypassed if needed to replicate a manufacturers' or competitors existing master key system.


Some lock manufacturers' interchangeable core systems use control keys that are strictly based on the master key and locations of their control lugs.  In this case the program will automatically create the control key.  When this happens the Auto Created check box will be checked.  You cannot override this setting.


A control key can be directly entered or created via the random generator.  If you enter the control key directly the bittings you enter will be tested as they are entered, one bitting at a time.  If an entered bitting fails a manufacturer's rule test a message will be displayed informing you of the specific reason the bitting was unacceptable.  A control key can also be created with the random generator.  The random generator only shows options that are allowable for the current manufacturer and options selected.  Any options that are not allowed will be grayed out and cannot be selected.


To create a control key using the random generator select a Depth Rule.  You can select from Shallow , Deep or Mixed bittings (key cuts).  The Shallow option will create a control key with shallow bittings.  With a lock that has useable depths of 0 - 9 only 0 - 4 will be used.  The Deep option will use depths 5 - 9.  The Mixed options will use the entire range of 0 - 9.


Additionally, you can use the Even / Odd Rules to determine how the depths are chosen.  The Match Master Key option will match even and odd depths based on the master key bittings.  The Opposite Master Key option will select an even bitting where there is an odd numbered bitting in the master key and so forth.


In some cases you will need to allow the control key bittings to equal or match the master key bittings.  This is not recommended but may need to be done to match an existed master key system.  To override this setting check the Allow Bittings = Master check box.  A strong word of warning.  If you set too many control key bittings the same as the master key bittings your control key may work as a master key making your master key system useless.


Medeco Angles Page:

Design Wizard - Medeco Angles


Medeco utilizes angled cuts in their keys and matching angled pins in their locks.  There are currently two basic types of locks and pins as far as master keying is concerned.  The original type Standard uses three angles Left, Center and Right which are represented in this program as L, C and R.  The newer type Bi-Axial uses three angles that can each be located either Fore or Aft on the key relative to the bow (head) of the key.  The pins are K, B, Q, M, D and S.  When you select Medeco as the manufacturer you must select either Standard or Bi-Axial for the correct angle type.


Because of the complexity of Medeco locks the MAC (maximum adjacent cut) is preset in the program.  Changing the MAC setting will have no effect on how the key bittings are tested, displayed or printed.  Bi-Axial compound angles are suported in the program and will be available shortly.


Angles can be entered directly or with the random generator.  To create angles with the random generator select an option from the Angle Rules.  Balanced Angles will create a grouping of angles that are balanced with Left, Center and Right angles.  Random Angles will select a group of just that, random angles.


Copyright and Trademark 2011   Murray Bilker and LockShop Software - A Division Of MJB Group, Inc.

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