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How Do Locksmiths Cut Keys? Laser Key Cutting VS Standard Cut Car Keys

Also known as sidewinder keys, laser cut keys are high-security keys developed in the 90s that require more skills and programming by expert locksmiths in order to work together with the high-end vehicles they are destined for. Laser cut keys add value and a high level of customization to a car’s keys and locks due to their unique style that covers any color, shape, and size.

If you wish to learn how laser cut keys work, how laser key cutting is done, what the main advantages and disadvantages of these keys are, and other interesting details, read on.

How Do Locksmiths Cut Laser Cut Keys?laser cut keys

In order to cut a high-security laser key, a locksmith must use a small-sized milling machine to gradually and carefully remove the metal. Milling relies on small bits that resemble the tip of classic standard drill bits. However, laser key-cutting milling bits can be moved along the surface to strip the material at a very precise depth that has been set previously. The interior of the bade or the upper and lower sides can be milled at high precision in order to allow the new key to easily turn inside locks and ignition switches.

How Do Laser Cut Keys Work?

Once a laser cut key is inserted into a lock, it will work by pushing past the pins located inside the cylinder since they are tied to springs responsible for turning the key as it begins to turn. Next, the springs will pull back and go back to the original position once the key is out of the lock.

What Is the Difference Between Standard Cut and Laser Cut Keys?


Laser cut keys that are also referred to as internal keys feature a unique design and have a unique design due to their mechanical cuts. They do not feature any notches cut from the sides, but display grooves cut in the middle thus turning them into much sturdier and thicker keys. Their slits are also tooled on both sides. In exchange, their owners can insert them into a lock from any direction.


On the other hand, standard or regular cut keys require simpler key-cutting machines compared to a laser cut key machine. Since they only feature metal cuts on a single side, they can only be inserted inside the lock from one direction.

Lock picking

Also, laser cut keys are more difficult to pick compared to standard keys, which means they add an extra layer of protection to vehicles that are vulnerable to theft.

Unlocking other cars

Similar car models and makers usually share the same keys. Roughly, in the same type of vehicles, the frequency of occurrence of each combination is around one per 1,000. Simply put, the same regular cut key could be used to unlock other similar cars, which is not possible when using laser cut keys, since these keys are unique.


Finally, laser cut keys featuring transponders are only designed to serve a single vehicle. When the transponder cannot be used, the ignition is not able to start even if the key can be used to unlock the doors. In conclusion, laser cut keys are a lot more difficult to duplicate compared to standard keys.

What Are the Benefits and Disadvantages of Laser Cut Keys?

Laser cut keys come with their own set of pros and cons that we are going to briefly list below:

Advantages of Laser Cut Keys

  • Enhanced security. Alser cut keys feature a special mechanism that makes the lock cylinders they are used with to be a lot more difficult to bypass compared to standard lock cylinder used by regular cut keys. This turns them into high-security keys that guarantee better protection.
  • Low risk of duplication. Car thieves who usually stay up-to-date with the latest vehicle security technologies do not normally own or know how to use advanced and expensive laser key cutting machines needed for duplication. Plus, this type of equipment is not easy to come by in general hardware stores, making laser cut key duplication a rare occurrence.
  • Unique key patterns. These keys feature unique patterns for individual car keys, which means the risk of lowers using the same key on several other vehicles is non-existent.
  • Interchangeable blades. Laser cut keys that have been affected by repetitive use and wear-and-tear can have their blades changed at relatively small costs and with minimum effort when using experienced car locksmiths.

Disadvantages of Laser Cut Keys

  • The price of laser cut keys is usually high, which means replacement in case of loss or broken keys can be expensive. These keys can also be accidentally locked inside a vehicle and require similar emergency lockout services from professional locksmiths.
  • Laser cut blades made from poor-quality materials will likely cause damage to the lock cylinder while also harming the key cutting machine itself. Such a low-quality key can also break inside the cylinder after being cut, which is why it is essential to only rely on reputable locksmith services.

Who Should Invest in Laser Cut Keys?

If you are looking to invest in the aesthetics of your keys or you simply count among those who frequently misplace their keys, investing in a laser cut key might be a good idea for you. You could imprint your preferred design or logo on your key and make it pop up quicker.

Also, if you wish to add more durability to your key with the help of top-quality hardened steel that can withstand heavy use, an expensive laser cut key is just right.

Finally, laser cut keys made with advanced key cutting machines add an extra layer of security to your vehicle.

For further information on how laser cut keys work or professional help with cutting or replacing car keys, contact us today.