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hi everyone. I've been cutting keys for some time in a retail environment and am considering a career change as a lock smith. I am qualified as a carpenter so practically minded and hands on but would like to know what would be the best route to take training wise. I am also looking at car key cutting and programming and would be interested on reviews on the xhorse condor mini plus which I have seen as a package with the VVDI mini key tool from Keyprint security. Is this a good starter package or is buying kit separately a better option? 

I look forward to any advice and feedback. Hope this is in the right section. Nick

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to change horses will take time and money - Locksmithing is not about opening doors with your James Bond briefcase- Fitting most locks should be no problem if your are a chippy, although I have seen some locks fitted by so called chippies. Knowing what locks fit where, what the insurers need, what the customer expects. UPVc doors and their mirade of locks the problems associated with these locks, holding enough stock to replace them all a huge minefield. Likewise common door lock customer need 5 locks all on the same key, The want a small safe fitted, disabled customer need a door automated. Then you come to the problem of opening locks in a lost key situation, so many locks, so many solutions, so much to learn, glad I retired ( well changed to automatics) I could not cope with todays locks and opening solutions Composite doors and their differing locks, steel barricade doors, containers, secure sheds arrrgggghhhhhhhhh

Vehicles is a huge outlay I think last time I asked £35+k for basic kit and stock, a huge learning curve- so easy to cluck up a customers system and have to pay for it to be put right, read some of the threads on here. Programme a key to a car and it does not work, you cannot reprogramme some so it £x down the plughole 

Then you have the race to the bottom, People happy to fit a lock for a £5 on their way home from work/school/prison 

The eating and paying rent/mortgage while learning - getting customers, paying back huge setup loans

The fact that so many scammers now offer open ups for £49 in a bait and switch scam

and then of course the asre ache who wants to rip off you van and stock, I heard of one locksmith who parked up locked the doors walked up an alley to No 45 (which didn't exist) and by the time he walked back his van had been loaded onto a trailer and was gone never to be seen again

If after all this go to www.locksmiths.co.uk they do basic training


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i would say that for even the most talented and keen , to learn auto and general locksmithing at the same time will be a task too far , with so much in each area to learn and to master it would be too much , and neither subject area would get the time and the focus needed.

with both areas , a course is no more than basic knowledge , foundations to build upon , realisticly taking a number of years to become competent , and every day is a school day , this never ends , both see significant changes every year or 2 , with new systems , new standards etc , all that need learning and mastering in order to keep up.

you are very vague with what you want to do , i want to set up as a locksmith ! openings . lock change work , access control , masterkeying , etc theres so many skill set areas , so what you need to learn and what you need to buy and how long it will take depends on what it is you hope to do . i want to do car keys and programming ! but what ? just spare clone keys in a shop ? all keys lost jobs , lock change or rekey work , immobiliser swaps and repairs etc , what makes and models do you want to be able to cover ? all has a bearing on the time it will take and what it will cost , its another huge subject area .

being a chippy is a help for the lock fitting side of locksmithing , but theres still alot to learn , opening , upvc which is a huge fast changing area , shutters , domestic and commercial , it takes years to learn despite what the courses tell you . think how long it took you to learn to be a chippy and how long it took to be competent , locksmithing is the same except theres associated skills to learn , electrics , welding to name just 2 , in auto theres parts stripping , electronics , soldering , dump reading , fault diagnosis , vehicle electrics etc . so like being a carpenter theres alot to learn for each subject and alot to master .

vehicles are indeed a huge outlay depending on what coverage you require or hope for , they are also alot of learning depending on makes you wish to cover . just look at stock requirements as you will need to hold stock as most wont wait 2 or 3 days for you to order keys in they need it now , take just peugeot , there are over 60 remote keys in their range , ford over 20 in their range , vauxhall over 20 etc etc . stock is a huge investment .

the xhorse machine , some like it some hate it , id describe it as a starter machine at best , with machines you really do get what you pay for , either a machine for life or a machine for now. and the mini key tool has very limited coverage , ok for cloning and remote generation . my opinion is that they are for now kit that will need replacing for better kit soon , ok as a back up but not as kit to build a business on , but others will love it as cheap.

with auto you need to decide what you want to be able to do , lost keys , spare keys , clone keys , obd coded keys , this determines what kit you need to invest in , you then need to decide what coverage you need , ie what makes and models , this determines what software you need and to a degree what level of kit you will need , personally i have over 200k invested in auto diag , tools equipment  and stock and still dont have 100% coverage , still dont have a key i need .

which ever way you go , research is key , and id advise 1 area of the trade at a time , master 1 before trying another or it will be an uphill task

i would go to the mla courses if looking at it seriously .

but decide what it is you actually want to be able to do , and what you can realisticly do , ie learn it and invest in it , then you will get answers more useful that are specific to your needs .

if all you want to do is spare clone keys from a shop then the costs and the equipment needed are far cheaper and simpler to learn than if wanting to do all keys lost or obd coded keys or top end like vag , mercedes and bmw etc . if wanting to only change house locks , fit locks then the costs and kit are different than if needing entry tools , access control etc .

so it just depends what it is that you want to do , how much you have to invest and the time you are willing to dedicate to it to become competent .

or you can talk to the training companies who will tell you that the roads are paved with gold , you can learn it quickly and be inundated with high paying work , the reality is somewhat different.

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Or Nick, you could buy an up and running, ready made business.

I have a shop and a van, both fully/well stocked for house and auto work. Around 7k hanging on the walls in the shop with another 3k on the shelves. 28k worth of cutting and programming machines plus auto stock, maybe 2k.

Then there's the van and it's contents!

Make me an offer........please. 


Edited by ponsaloti
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again it depends on what you want to be able to cover , cloners have moved on alot and have a wide coverage for cloning the chips , you cant beat silca and keyline for quality and coverage and speed , but xhorse and keydiy are far cheaper but not in same league but still good coverage on cloning.

xhorse and kd are returning times on id48 cloning of between 45 minutes and 80 minutes if wrong time of day when servers busy , silca rw4 plus 2 to 3 minutes , so huge difference in time , but rw4 is dearer and the chips are dearer , so depends if you can deal with the wait times or not .

for remote generation to low cost blank remotes both keydiy and xhorse are excellent choices for remote generation.

but this is then when it begins to get trickier and more expensive , alot of the common remotes you will be asked for will be the chip on board id46 models , and some later hitag 3 stuff , no manual procedures with these , so these are not going to get done inside the shop , these will need programming with diag through obd to code in the transponder and the remote at the same time , so you will be going out to and plugging into the car , you are going to need diag capable of reading the pin code from the vehicle and then programming the key , this will include most of your vauxhall , PSA , Renault , fiat , nissan etc , all every day cars , so choosing your obd diag is difficult to get right , all are better on some makes than others and all have their strengths and weaknesses , and 1 programmer is never enough , then theres a need especially on modern vehicles for adequate battery support when reading pins and coding keys .

some remotes can be manually programmed but these are getting limited now , some you can clone chip but good diag is required to code in the remote by obd.

the programmers with good coverage for pin read and for remote coding are not cheap , some are cheaper to buy but use tokens for each key you do , some have annual fees to use their servers and get updates , some are token free but can be a mortgage to buy .

so again , you need research and need to know your area , as areas can differ as to what you see, more afluent areas will see new vehicles and more prestige vehicles , less affluent areas will see older vehicles , but the staples of ford , vauxhall , psa , vag , fiat etc will be seen in all areas .

once you have an idea through research what your likely to see , then you need to research some more , what are your competitors charging for these services , how busy are they , this will give an idea on whether viable , will you get payback on the investment , this is something only your research and local knowledge can decide as is different for us all.

some effort in the research stage pays dividends , reliance on luck can end in tears .

charge too little you cant last as technology moves on and needs constant updating , which is an ongoing cost , if starting to plug into cars you have to consider insurances that cover you to work on cars and insure you to be in charge of the vehicle if you have the key in drivers seat on public highway .

for cloning you will need to leave the shop on alot , to sniff data from the car , so need to be able to leave the shop and go to where the car is parked , for programming remotes and chips the same .

so alot to consider , research and ensure viable for you .

there is no simple answer , some will say all you need is cutting machines , keydiy kdx2 or xhorse  equivelent and a smart pro , others will advise silca rw4 plus , zedfull and keydiy , others im608 , tdb1000 , truecode  etc , the truth is you want multiple options , but fitted around the coverage you require for what you are likely to see and get asked for . without serious research you are buying blind and leaving it to luck .

good luck 

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xhorse laser machine and rw4 plus obd2 keymaster

shop based all that is required unless u want to do all keys lost etc;

these machines will get u up and running for around 5grand

while learning u will be able to add as required

this will clone rw4   machine will cut xhorse    keymaster will program remotes

o u will need keydiy or xhorse vvdi to generate remote

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