What are Key Decoders and How Do They Work?

Key Decoder


There are thousands upon thousands of possible key combinations. It is the fact that no two keys are exactly alike that makes locks work. You must make randomized lock combinations in order to ensure that the key is unique.

The cut of each key is identified by a specific code. A number is assigned to each key cut to indicate its depth. A key’s blade has anywhere from three to eight or more cuts, depending on the brand. They are all randomized and are at different depths. As a result of this process, the key is unique.

Let’s say you need to figure out this code. This is important for a few reasons. If you or your client need more than one key for a lock, but only have a broken key, you may be stuck.

If you need help with lock solutions, call our Locksmith Brisbane, You’ll be back on track in no time with their hassle-free service.

Key fragments cannot be lined up on a key cutter to make duplicates, but what remains can be decoded. Based only on the key or lock, how can you determine a key’s code? A key decoder is used.

Depending on your lock type, you can purchase different types of key decoders. Depending on the type, you may need a key or only a decoded lock. Can you tell me what their mechanism is? The steps involved in using a key decoder to figure out the code of a lock or key are as follows:

The following types of key decoders are available:

1. Decoders and pin tumblers for wafers

Pin tumbler locks, the most common type of lock, are commonly associated with key decoders. These locks are found on most padlocks and front doors. When you think of locks, you think of pin tumblers.

In wafer locks, wafers are used instead of pins. Commonly found on cars, desk drawers, and cheap padlocks, with the same decoder, both the lock types can be decoded.

It comes with a spare key

These key decoders require keys. It is also important to know what brand of lock you are dealing with. As a result, they cannot be used as picking tools. There are some pin tumbler key decoders that can pick or bypass locks, but they will not be of any use to criminals or locksport enthusiasts. Duplicate keys are only made with these.

It is necessary to take the key in order to determine the brand. The brand is usually visible somewhere. Key heads usually have this information (but not always). An experienced locksmith can sometimes tell the brand by looking at the shape of a key.

Once the brand has been determined, a key decoder needs to be acquired. Since different brands build keys differently, the right decoder is necessary to decode keys correctly. If the numbers are slightly off, you won’t get a duplicate key.

There is a sloping rectangular hole in the middle of what looks like a rectangle. Usually, numbers are placed at various points along the slope, starting at 0 and going up to 7.

Using the decoder, you simply insert the key into the holes and determine the depth by finding which numbered section each cut fits into. Cuts should be measured from the tip of the key to the head. Write down each number in the sequence.

You end up with the number that corresponds to your key’s code. It is pretty straightforward to use these decoders. In addition, it requires the key, so if you lose it, you won’t be able to use it.

A spare key is not available

Using a Lishi decoder, all you need is the lock. It is not necessary to have the original keys. Lishi 2-in-1 tools are lockpicking aids that also function as decoders. In order to decode a lock, you must first pick it. First, remove your broken key from the lock.

The flat metal rectangle is attached to a pick and tensioner, as well as a chart. A little hook should line up with the chart numbers when you use the pick.

After picking the lock, align the hook with each pin and see what number it drops to. That’s your lock’s code. You can make a key just with the lock.

2. Decoders for disk detainers

Disk detainer locks use rotatable disks that move when the key is inserted. Similar to dialable combination locks, these locks use a key mechanism instead of a dial.

Disk detainer decoders are a bit more difficult to use. It’s difficult to figure out everything by looking at it alone.

Even though they are complex, they are remarkably simple to use. In addition to decoding keys, they can also pick locks. 


The tools are a good choice for beginners as a whole. It looks like a metal cylinder with a key-biting tip. Around the cylinder are a series of handles.

A rare version of these key decoders has just one handle and rotatable disks that operate similarly to the handles. Numbers should be assigned to these handles, usually 1-4.

Decoding a lock requires knowledge of its brand. A universal decoding tool is not available. For different brands, key decoders are required.

To decode a disk detainer lock, insert the decoder into the keyhole and turn all knobs/handles as far as they will go. In some cases, they won’t move at all, while in most cases they will go a long way. It is necessary to apply tension pressure to the ones that barely move in order to unlock the lock. Press these to simulate turning a key.

The remaining dials should have some wiggle room before they catch. You should find more wiggle room before hitting another catching point. Start by finding the area with the most wiggle room, and continue to do so. There will be a dramatic increase in wiggle room at some point.

There should be enough wiggle room on each dial. As soon as you do that, the lock should open, and the device should tell you the code. Which method would be used to accomplish that? Find out what the answer is by looking at the dials.

Can you recall the dial numbers? The order of the items has now been determined. Look at the dials that didn’t turn and find the highest number there. There should either be a 4 or a 3. That’s the dial value. Make a straight line between the numbers above and below (or use a straightedge). These are the values of the other dials.

The sequence should be followed when writing the values. That’s the code for the key.

3. Tubular Decoders

“Tubular locks” essentially pin tumbler locks with circular pins. Tubes are inserted into what looks like an on/off symbol.

You will need a key or a tubular lock pick to decode a tubular lock. Once you pick the lock, the cylindrical lock pick reshapes into the shape of the key.

There are two types of key decoders: sheets of plastic with bumps and regular non-tubular keys with bitting that measures cuts. Each bump should have a number next to it.

Measure the bitting against the decoder bumps and write down the corresponding numbers. Work your way clockwise around the key starting at the top. Basically, that’s all there is to it. These types of key decoders are not complex.

4. SmartKey Decoders

Key decoders can be used to decode Kwikset SmartKey locks. “Smart locks” are electronic locks that can be opened by another device (such as a smartphone) instead of a physical key. There are other ways to define smart locks, but regardless, these are not electronic smart locks.

With a Kwikset SmartKey Locks can be rekeyed by the owner without requiring new pins or locksmith tools. The quality of these items is mixed due to their difficulty in picking and fragility. In the event that they break, decoding or unlocking them can be very challenging.

 This type of lock requires a special key decoder. In essence, the decoder is a camera in the shape of a key. As soon as you insert the key into the lock, a buffer takes a picture of the inside. This picture is sent to your mobile device. By positioning the camera underneath each pin inside the lock, the buffer is able to capture an accurate image.

After getting the picture, you can use a chart to determine the depth of each pin. From front to back, the depth is numbered, and that is the code. There’s nothing complicated about it.


Key decoders come in different types. You’ll need to consider the lock’s brand and type when decoding it. It is best to use key decoders when you are well-prepared.

All of these tools are relatively easy to use. They are incredibly useful for those who need them for legitimate reasons and largely useless for burglars. 

Locksmiths know what kind of lock they’re dealing with, while thieves do not. Making new keys is easy and effective now that there are easy and effective ways to decode locks.

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