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Looking for key to fit old wooden hexagonal case


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I have two cases, the common wooden hexagonal cases used by Crabb about 1910.  The same key will lock them both, but I only have one; looking for another.  I would describe it as a tube with one tooth; the stem is about 19 mm long, and in the tooth there are two small cuts.  I don't know whether those cuts are necessary for the key to work.         There is a pin in the middle of the keyhole, and the stem is a tube so it can be inserted around the pin.    Are replacement keys available anywhere? Does anyone have a spare? Has anyone tried to reproduce a key by 3-D printing?

 

Thanks for any help!

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I don't know where you are, but where I live (northeastern US) at least one local locksmith still copies these type of keys. Mind you, it takes a day as he has to file the notches out by hand, but mine (for a family house) have worked fine. Check in your area.

 

Ken

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The concertina that was the subject of https://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?/topic/22962-unusual-or-not/#comment-207013 came with what is almost certainly its original case, somewhat battered but reasonably sound, except that the catch wasn’t in use and a leather strap had been added to hold the lid closed and as a carrying handle. One day I absent-mindedly closed the catch and then had the challenge of opening it. I found a simple key that seemed to fit, but it didn’t open the catch, and then it broke, leaving a piece of broken metal inside. As an interim solution I had to cut the threads holding the leather tag of the catch. It's still waiting for a proper solution.

Edited by Richard Mellish
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It is possible to get small cabinet key blanks from companies such as this OB1.jpg.8902c879d845096a53d5ab7a967b3472.jpghttps://www.nichelocks.com/Traditional-Cabinet-Locks/Cabinet-Key-Blanks, from which you can recreate "your" key profile.  In my experience (YMMV) the keys for old Lachenal and similar concertina cases are very simple single lever locks so they don't need the fancy saw cuts that your key seems to have

 

Alex West

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I found a blank, maybe eight years ago, from a horologist supply house (clockmaker/repair) in England, but I don't recall the name.  But basically a cabinet key blank, just like Alex West suggests above.  The dimensions to match when buying the blank are the inside and outside diameter of the tube, and just make sure the tab is has enough on it.  It doesn't matter if the length matches. Then have the tab ground down to match the shape of the tab on your existing key.  That might mean grinding the thickness a bit too.  Mine was for a Lachenal, and the shape required was more basic than your key (which Alex also mentions)  I found that the an exact match wasn't really necessary, as long as the key fit into the lock, but perhaps your lock is more specific.  So these locks aren't really secure, just enough to discourage casual handling of the instrument, or accidental opening of the case.

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Right, if you carry it by the handle (which has torn off in almost all the cases I have seen) it won't stay closed unless it is locked.     I have seen a basket of old keys in an antique shop in a town where I will be visiting soon, one of which may fit, or come close enough that I could rework it.  Thanks for the lead to horologists!

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Thanks for all comments.  As suggested by Ken_Coles and Alex West, I went to a locksmith in my area (Oakland CA).  He had a rack of hundreds of skeleton key blanks.  One came close to matching, except that the "tooth" was taller and longer than needed, even too tall to enter the keyhole.  He ground the tooth down match the existing key, more or less, and the end result is that both keys work in both locks. They are not exact matches, but these are not precision locks.   For reference, the final dimensions of the tooth are 0.121" wide (along the axis of the key) and 0.167" high.  This is slightly different from the original, because the stem diameters are different, and as Tradewinds Ted said, exact match is not necessary -- the thousandths digit is not significant.  The blank he used was Taylor #663.  He didn't saw cuts into the tooth; as expected,  they are not needed.

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Have you thought, if you cannot find a key to fit, in instead adapting the box itself, perhaps by fitting a different catch to close the box, or the handle could maybe be refitted to allow carrying more securely. There's sometimes little ball type locking catches that temporarily close the lid of a box when lid is pressed down.

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