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Exploring the Art of Cloning Keys from Photos & Videos

Cloning keys when you have a decent picture or still frame from a video is a trivial process with the right tools and techniques. How easy is it to get the tools? Well, quite a few people already have them…

The first step to cloning a key is to take a picture of it – there are even apps like KeyMe and similar designed specifically for this purpose. If you are not processing the picture in an app then ensuring your picture has a reference of scale will make scaling the picture you’ve taken to the correct size easier.

Next you want to take your reference and transfer it to a blank key, this normally means taking measurements, cutting and then filing down until you have your end result. An expert could then clone a key by hand from a high quality picture. However, with more modern technologies like 3D printing and wider access to CNC machines, there are several applications on the internet to assist generating the technical specifications of a key from a photograph for use on these machines.

Naomi Wu explains in detail several methods of cloning keys and the tools available achieve this, whether that’s cloning a key by hand, using a 3D printer or a CNC machine. She also covers designing the cloned key in computer aided design (CAD) software, in addition to using online generators like KeysGen to create stereolithography (STL) files.

Naomi Wu cloning a key from a photo using both 3D printing (FDM) and a CNC machine

It doesn’t take much effort to go through Instagram or Flickr and find a picture containing someone’s keys. With how easy it is to clone keys from a photograph, perhaps we should start ensuring our keys stop appearing in photographs!

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