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What is a Skeleton Key
What is a Skeleton Key

What is a Skeleton Key

What is a Skeleton Key

What’s your perception about skeleton keys? Perhaps antique collectibles or a mysterious means of securing a property!

Though skeleton keys are out of style, they are still valuable to some traditional minded people. As a matter of fact, skeleton represent a symbol of ancient culture. Before going further into all you need to know, it's essential to ask what a skeleton key is.

What is a Skeleton Key?

Skeleton keys are ancient keys used during the 18th and 19th centuries. They are a master key system that unlocks other similar locks. 

Skeleton keys are long, narrow, and have a skeleton appearance. However, this is not why they are called skeleton keys. The name 'skeleton' shows that their teeth or bitting is filed off.

They contain three parts, the circular bow, which is the handle. There is the long and narrow barrel and the bit, which is the part that you insert into the keyhole to open the door.  

How Does Skeleton Keys Work

The design of skeleton keys shows that you can use them on warded and lever locks. Traditional residential and commercial building owners use them a lot.

They serve as master keys that can open multiple locks as long as they are of similar locking systems. The key bitting, the part you insert into the lock, has a unique pattern that the warded locks have, too hence its ability to open it.

Locks That Skeleton Keys Can Open

The design and mechanism of skeleton keys allow them to open specific old locks like warded and lever locks. Low-security locks still use this ancient locking mechanism so that skeleton keys can open them.  

During the 1700s, warded locks were prevalent in Europe and other parts of the World. However, even in modern days, you can still see locks that skeleton keys can open like the low-security padlock. However, electronic locks have taken over and diminished the use of skeleton keys. 

Skeleton keys can also unlock another type of lock called lever locks, and just like warded locks, they have wards. The design of the lever locks is similar to warded locks, but it has a notch. 

Locks That Skeleton Keys Cannot Open

Skeleton keys cannot open the pin tumbler lock. These are the common lock type on most doors, and the skeleton key being ancient, cannot open these locks. 

Pin tumbler locks possess a set of keys that must be raised to a certain height for the lock to open. As such, the design of skeleton keys does not match this type of lock, and even if you insert it into the lock's keyhole and try opening the lock, it won't respond.

Can You Replace a Skeleton Key

Skeleton keys are old-fashioned keys that people used a long time ago. People often wonder if they can replace these keys if they are damaged. The answer is YES! But you should hire a skilled and experienced locksmith to do the job.


Skeleton keys these days are more like collector items. However, some locksmiths work with skeleton keys due to the few people using them. You can easily find them in old homes lying somewhere. 

If you need a skeleton key replacement, QuickPro Locksmith has experienced technicians that will use the right tools and experience to replace your key without damaging it.