Keys and locks

I think almost every home has a drawer with random keys and locks in it. For many, the locks may be without keys or combinations and the keys are to known and unknown locks.

The first step in organising keys and locks is to gather them all in one place. I suggest using a small, lidded bin, such as a shoebox. Place all the locks and keys in the bin. You may have lockable cabinets or doors that require keys. Of course, you can’t put furniture into the shoebox but you can make a list of furniture that require keys and put the list in the shoebox, too.

Purchase a few key tags and write what the key is for on the key tag right away and attach the tag to the key. If padlocks are not in use, put the hasp through the key ring with the keys and lock it. This will keep the correct keys with the correct lock. Just remove one of the keys from the keyring to unlock the lock.

If you have combination locks, write down the combination on a key tag with a description of the combination lock and/or its serial number. If the locks are simple, such as suitcase locks with only 3 or 4 numbers, you may be able to fiddle with it enough to determine the combination. Some rotary dial combination locks have serial numbers and you can get the combination by contacting the manufacturer. If the combination lock is not in use, put the hasp through the key tag on which you wrote the combination. You’ll never worry about trying to remember the combination.

Store keys that are used frequently close to where they are used. For example, you might keep a key to your garden shed on a hook, just inside the back door. Extra house keys should be labelled and stored in a key cabinet.

Keep mismatched keys and locks in the labeled shoebox for a few months just in case their mates turn up somewhere else. It is also helpful to ask family members and coworkers if they have seen any keys or locks “hiding” anywhere. You may find someone else is in possession of the little key you were looking for. Ask them, too, if one of the keys you can’t identify may be a spare key to their home you never labeled. If you’ve determined that the keys and locks are never going to find their mates, feel free to dispose of them.

Remember, also, to carry only the keys you need with you. Separate the keys you carry with you into groups such as home, car, office, or cottage. Put each set on a different ring.  Clip the key groups you need together with a carabineer when you leave the house to reduce the clutter in purses and pockets.

12 Comments for “Keys and locks”

  1. posted by andrea on

    We have a storage locker in our building that we only access about 3 times a year, it has a combination lock.
    I keep the combination in my email – i have one special folder that just has emails containing important info that needs to be referenced occasionally. This particular email is labelled STORAGE LOCKER and has the combo. I never have to keep track of a piece of paper, i can access it on my phone, and it isn’t going anywhere.

    If I had several combinations to keep track of i would definitely keep a list on Google Docs.

  2. posted by Gena on

    You can take the unused keys to be recycled for the metal. They will even pay you for it!

  3. posted by Fairfax Avenue on

    Keys as art? There is an impressive sculpture in Prague made with 85,000 keys. I suppose if you’re so inclined you could start saving up the odd keys…

  4. posted by infmom on

    We have a box in our storage closet that holds mass quantities of keys that have no known purpose. Well, that’s not entirely true. There used to be at least one key that belonged to a car I junked back in 1987, till I made a special effort to throw it out.

    My husband won’t hear of getting rid of the keys “in case the locks turn up.”

    I felt we’d be safe in tossing the lot, until I bought a nice Disney bag at the thrift store and found that one of the miscellaneous keys in the box fit its locks perfectly… there goes my reason for giving the keys the heave-ho. :)

  5. posted by ChrisD on

    Joe Hill also did an article about these: Locke and Key.
    Some keys opened up your brain so you could take your thoughts or fears out, or stick a book in and know everything in it. They key to the Ghost Door would let your soul fly around sans your body, the anywhere key would open any door to any other door you could visualise. Definitely keys you should label well (a very gripping story).

  6. posted by Christy King on

    I collect keys and small bits of unknown hardware in ziplock labeled with the date in Sharpie. I figure if they haven’t been needed in a year or two, it can all go. Luckily they are small items!

  7. posted by Jacquie on

    For security reasons it is not a good idea to have all your keys kept conveniently together in one place, clearly labelled with what they open!

    Yes, you need to be able to find them to use, and it is a good plan to have them identifiable, but that can be colour or number coded with a discreet key (pardon the pun) on a phone, PC or paper copy kept elsewhere.

    In the unfortunate event of a break-in, don’t make life easy for the thieves.

  8. posted by Elaine on

    Lara Spencer on HGTV made a nice art piece for an engaged couple out of keys – put them in a heart shape and glue onto a board and frame. I am making one for my nephew of his name.

  9. posted by PatGLex on

    Having lost both car and house keys once years ago (because they were on the same ring), I now have two separate sets of keys that hang on the same hook by the door, and I grab both when I leave. One holds my apartment door/storage/mailbox keys, and they stay in a protected place in my car. The other key ring holds my car and office door keys. If I lose one (the apartment keys for example) I can still get to the office to get my spares; and if I lose the car keys, I keep a spare in my purse so I can always get in my car. Barring a purse loss/misplacement I can always call the apartment manager to let me in for spare car keys. . .

  10. posted by CanadianKate on

    You can put a combination lock on a sticker right on the lock.

    You just write it in code. For instance:

    DD’s age April 2013
    Anniversary, minus 50
    MEM’s birth year

    Which I (and my dh plus probably my kids, at least with a glance at the family geneology) can decode easily as 28, 30, 21.

  11. posted by CanadianKate on

    Unfortunately, that doesn’t help me find the keys to the filing cabinet I’m giving my daughter.

    We spent 30 minutes last night gathering up all the keys in the house. Only found keys to office filing cabinet and a desk drawer. The other desk and two filing cabinets are keyless. That makes sense for one (bought used) but the other items were bought new so this is bugging me.

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