Q. What is the difference between brass keys and nickel-plated keys?
A. In both cases the base material is brass. Nickel-plating the key extends the shelf life of the key and helps to maintain a "like new" look for a longer period of time.
Q. I have been told that the nickel-plating on a key will wear out the cutting wheel on a key duplicating machine prematurely. Is this true?
A. While Nickel-plating is hard, the wear difference on a cutting wheel is insignificant. Cutter wear is more affected by the speed and the pressure a person applies when duplicating a key. In addition, foreign objects that come in contact with the cutter and/or contact with the vise jaw will have an adverse affect on cutter life.
Q. Why are some keys made of nickel-silver material?
A. It is more difficult to break a key made of nickel silver material. It is often used when the keyway is thin.
Q. Why not make all keys out of steel?
A. The internal components of the lock are commonly made of brass or nickel-silver. Making all keys of steel would result in premature wear on the parts.
Q. I've heard that keys have thumb and finger sides. What does this mean?
A. If you hold a cut key in your right hand, with the bitting (cut edge) facing up, your thumb would rest on the thumb side and your finger would rest on the finger side of a key. While this applies in North America, this is not the case world-wide. In other countries, the bitting (or cut edge) may go into the lock with the facing down and therefore, the thumb side would be determined while holding the cut edge down.