Easy rekey locks

Rekeying refers to changing the inner mechanisms of a deadbolt or key in knob lock so that it works on a different key.  This would be something that you would want to do if you had just purchased a home or business or if you are a landlord with new tenants in a property or perhaps you lost some keys and wanted to be sure that no unauthorized person had easy access to your property.

This task has traditionally been done by locksmiths or other people with knowledge of locks and access to the specialized kits that are required to do the job.

Three of the major lock manufacturing companies have come out with entry locks that can be rekeyed without the use of specialized tools and rekeying kits.  Kwikset and Baldwin both call theirs “Smartkey” and Schlage calls theirs “SecureKey”.

The Smartkey systems come with a learning tool that allows the lock to change to a new key when the old key and the learning tool are used together.  The Schlage SecureKey comes with a blue rekeying key that is required to do the same thing. You will have to get the blue key cut to match the desired new key.

I have worked with all three of these systems a few times.  They are easy if you follow the instructions and it only takes a few seconds.  I have read some online reviews and there seem to be some cases where the locks have rekeyed themselves for no apparent reason.  The systems have not been around long enough to really have a track record so I would advise doing a bit of research on your own before choosing one over the other.

There was recently a lockpicking contest at a locksmith convention in Florida.  56 Kwikset SmartKey and 56 Schlage SecureKey were challenged.  On that day the Kwikset product proved to be much more pick resistant.  Only one was picked whereas forty four of the Schlage locks were picked.  Here is link to the full article:


If you have lock or door questions or comments please feel free to contact me through my website:   www.thedoorguy.com.

2 Responses to “Easy rekey locks”

  1. nicholas bonham-carter says:

    by chance, i stumbled into your interesting website, while looking for information on resettable locks for our rental buildings-all old turn of the century in omaha ne old market district.
    every time i go to our local middle-eastern restaurant, i look at a poster of “the doors of jerusalem”, which is most interesting.
    whenever, we have a move-out, either apartment or commercial storefront, it means a trip to the locksmith to have the locks re-keyed, or to have a spare set ready to go. if sub-contractors have been given keys to do their work, then another trip!
    while i don’t begrudge the locksmith we use his well-deserved fee for his obvious skill; the time it takes is the difficult thing, as well as removing/reinstalling the locks.
    i like the schlage orbit knobs, and while looking at the selection in the “big box” store, i was intrigued by the securekey system.
    now after installing a few on a storefront i am dismayed to see news reports of the lawsuit between schlage, and kwickset [whose hardware is not so attractive]. as you know, the schlage system is to be discontinued, soon, so i am wondering what to do-backtrack to kwikset, or continue with schlage, and perhaps buy a several building’s supply of schlage secure key locks before their demise.
    do you have any thoughts on this quandry?–thanks,
    nicholas bonham-carter

    • TheDoorGuy says:

      Hi Nicholas,
      Thank you for posting your question on my Door Guy Blog!

      Because I rekey locks myself I do not go out of my way to purchase either the Kwikset SmartKey or the Schlage SecureKey locks. I have, however, installed and rekeyed a few of each of them in recent years. Probably less than 10 of either one. I have not had any calls from customers having problems with either one. I am somewhat comfortable recommending either one.

      Of the two systems I think I like the Kwikset better from a convenience standpoint. You don’t have to have a control key made for the new key, just the mysterious keying tool that comes with each new lock. That saves a trip to locksmith or hardware store.

      I did a little noodling around online this afternoon and in my limited research I did seem to find more references to problems with the Schlage system. These included:
      1. Keys stop working for no apparent reason.
      2. If you are locked out you probably have to destroy lock to open door. Looks like this is not the case for the Kwikset.
      3. Some reports of rekeying without the special blue key.

      Both the Kwikset and Schlage appear to have a system of wafers and ratchet devices inside instead of the traditional pin tumblers that have served pretty well over the years.
      These systems are apparently a bit delicate and can be damaged if the wrong key is inserted and turned with force.

      As far as durability and better security goes I really think the old pin tumbler system from either manufacturer is better than the current versions of these smart systems.

      Other than the keying differences both Kwikset and Schlage have been around for a long time. I think the Schlage locks, especially the deadbolts, are sturdier than the comparable Kwikset models and they have a little smoother operation. I agree with you on the appearance aspect. I generally like the looks of the Schlage products better also. You mentioned the Orbit knob….Kwikset makes a couple models that are of a round design:
      the Circa and the polo knob. They do not end up looking as round as the Schlage models because the design of their cylinder system makes all of their locks a bit flat on the front and somewhat similar to the other models.

      Regarding your question about buying up Schlage locks before they are discontinued I would say that if you are comfortable with your experience with these locks to date by all means go ahead and buy and stockpile them for future use. Worst case scenario is that you will have to change to Kwikset down the road or maybe Schlage will come up with a new generation of these locks by then. Not too much of a problem for you either way because the installation tools required and assembly of the locks is pretty much the same.

      I hope this rambling dissertation has been somewhat helpful….
      Please feel free to respond and we can bat it around some more.


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