When most people are asked to explain what a key is, they’d probably call it ornate, vintage, or something they utilize to open the doors of their house. But most consumers aren’t aware of how many different keys and locking mechanisms the market offers. Although the majority of keys serve generally the same purpose, each one is cut utilizing a different method, with each better suited to different types of locking mechanisms.


This variant of keys is among the more complex ones, and they oftentimes witness use in gear machinery. These have a metal shaft, around which the outside circumference is sectioned into tiny teeth. The teeth-like structures are what locks a key into a keyway of the related locking mechanisms, offering a user torque as the key is turned.

Tangent keys

Those are typically used in lines of heavy-duty work. These types of keys often are rectangular or shaped like a wedge. One or two recesses are carved into the metal shaft. Tangent members are placed at angles inside the recesses, allowing one edge lock inside the shaft, whereas another one extends just past it. As tangent members are placed, such keys are put into locking mechanisms that are the same shape of the keys, provided there is a likewise amount of negative recesses for accommodating the current tangent members.

Sunk keys

Such keys see usage in both heavy machinery and automotive work. Sunk keys are a type of key which makes use of a certain metal shape which is inserted inside a locking mechanism or key shaft of precisely the same shape and size. Sunk keys commonly are obtainable as gib-head keys, woodruff keys, rectangular sunk keys, square sunk keys, feather keys, or parallel sunk keys.

Saddle keys

They’re composed of two sections which fit perfectly inside a keyway. For a flat saddle key, the key shaft has a recess that fits into a rectangular and flat member. As the member shaft is inserted into the keyway, the unique shape of the keyway is what will hold the member into place. Within the majority of hollow saddle keys, the shaft is fully smooth and cylindrical, whereby the member itself is rectangular along with a curved and carved-out part that perfectly matches the shaft curve. The owner inserts the cylindrical shaft inside the keyway, and the member will have the ability to slide inside a recessed keyway down the shaft that holds it within its correct place. Most saddle keys have the ability to fall out of keyways with sufficient movement, so they’re oftentimes only used for light-duty tasks.

Round keys

Such keys are common in light-duty work. A tiny recess is drilled inside the cylindrical metal shaft of the round key. It’ll accommodate a protruding round segment. This whole key is placed into the keyway, one that’s sized perfectly to fit the cylindrical shaft yet also offer a pathway for the related protruding section. The key then often is turned to get secured into place within the locking mechanism.

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