One Key

Dear Lazyweb,

In my continuing quest to reduce the number of items on my keychain, I would like to have my mailbox lock re-keyed to be on the same key as my door. I had one locksmith tell me he couldn't do it, but maybe one of you knows where I can find a lock that will fit on my mailbox, that can also be re-keyed to take a normal-sized key. (The mailbox is in part of a huge bank of mailboxes in the lobby, so replacing the entire door is not an option.)

I'm also considering dremelling that RFID fob apart to see if I can make it smaller. But they charge a stupid amount of money to replace them...


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31 Responses:

  1. Buddha Buck says:

    If you are going to mask out the cuts on the picture of the key, you should also mask out the code number on the inside of the lock. It wouldn't surprise me if that number would allow someone to cut a key that would work in that lock.

  2. Neil says:

    I feel like you could take this one step further...can you get a lock for your door and your mailbox which will trigger off the RFID fob?

  3. Ludwig says:

    Just leave your mailbox unlocked. Nobody wants to steal your bills and catalogs.

    • gabriel says:

      i tried that. the mailman will refuse to drop my bills and snail-mail spam in. in the 3rd day he left those orange notes saying that he will not deliver mail until the lock is 'fixed'

      • Ludwig says:

        That’s pretty weird considering they’ll happily shove stuff into an unlocked mail slot or street-facing mailbox.

  4. Dave Blue says:

    You could eliminate the need for a mailbox altogether by using or the like. Starts at $20/month.

    • Pavel Lishin says:

      I guess this is the part of my life where I realize that I'm an adult, or maybe the internet has enabled me to ignore 99% of anything that comes address to a Mr. Lishin through a plastic window in an envelope, but I actually look forward to receiving mail, because it's typically actually something for me from a person.

      • jwz says:

        I basically never get mail that is not a package that could not go directly into the shredder. If it weren't for packages, I'd consider just gluing the damned thing shut.

    • jwz says:

      Except that the only mail that I get that I actually want is packages. This would not stop the stream of crap, I think.

  5. JoshuaC says:

    Depending on how serious you are, you could make a double-ended key. If you have both keys in front of you, a micrometer, and an account it could be a single-sitting task (and a weeks-long wait to get the part shipped back to you and find out if you really got everything right, down to the different thickness of the two keys). As a bonus, you can then make your key out of say, titanium, if that near weightlessness thing makes you happy.

    I happen to use a keyport slide and I can vouch that it works as advertised. I'm guessing more bulk than you want as you're already down to just two keys. I envy you.

  6. Will Scullin says:

    I can understand the convenience argument, but it is funny to have your mailbox secured with a medeco lock when the entire bank of mailboxes can be picked with a bobby pin.

    • "I put all my papers on a disk, and now I can't find the disk..."

      My keyboard is pretty screwed up, so I hope this came through as intended...

  7. Ian says:

    This doesn't help with your mailbox, but in the interest of having fewer keys you can get a deadbolt for your front door that's all RFID these days. My place has the Samsung SHS-3420 (, and it's great. They have many models, depending on your specific needs. Be forewarned, however, that some of them are crap.

    It reads MiFare RFID cards, which means it can be programmed to respond to a clipper card. It'll also work with the RFID fobs and stickers that Adafruit sells. Personally, I have one of those little iPhone wallets, and it has a sticker on the inside (livin' the dream: my wallet, keys, and cellphone are all one object.) There's a decent chance that your existing front door fob is MiFare (though there's a few other competing standards).

    Oh, and it's great for guests since we can give them an access code over the phone, but that's less useful if you have a door outside your door...

  8. Ian says:

    Oh, also, there's this:

    So, it's at least possible to get a cam lock for a schlage key.

  9. Ian Young says:

    Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but you can't re-key mailboxes because--you know--the mailman needs to open them. So unless your mailbox has a rear entrance that the USPS master keys work on, then you have to keep that key.

    Me? I keep my mailbox key in a bowl by the door, because unless I'm expecting a delivery, mail can wait.

    • Brian B says:

      The mail carrier doesn't need keys to individual doors in banks of mailboxes because they can open the whole mess at once, from the front or the back depending on the design.

    • anyfoo says:

      In Germany (and probably many other countries), the mailman just slides the mail in through a mail slot. When I lived in the US for a short while, a coworker told me that they don't have slots because apparently the US Postal Service does not like non-mailman-people to slide stuff in there. Is that true?

      The mailman still needs some keys, though, as oftentimes the mail slots are behind the entrance door of the house.

      • Al Iverson says:

        That is true, it's a crime for anyone but the postal service to put anything into your mailbox. But, even sans slots, USPS doesn't need access to his lock to put mail in it. The whole bank of mailboxes tilts forward, using a separate key. This allows the USPS to put the mail in through the top.

        JWZ, I think you're crazy on this one. I wouldn't key them to be the same, even if I could. The mailbox lock is too exposed/too easy to get access to. We just decided not to lock our mailbox at our old place and it was fine. Nobody ever stole our bills and catalogs.

      • Scott says:

        Honestly, I think opening the whole thing works better than a slot too. Faster for the mailman and they don't tend to get as crammed up if people don't check their mail for a few days.

        Here's a pic of what we're talking about:

  10. ducksauz says:

    If you want to go with a bad-ass high security lock, you could get an Abloy knob for the door and cam lock for the mailbox. Probably run you about $200-250 by the time you're done getting them keyed alike with Protec2 keys, but you'll have a seriously unpickable and unbumpable set of locks.

  11. I cloned my RFID fob into one of the smaller form factor keycoins.

    • jwz says:

      That's compelling. What's the easiest way to do that?

      • Sam says:

        you know someone with the skill set and technology to perform this task.

      • The easiest way is to find a local locksmith. I was shocked to find out many offer this as service. $50 or so, out of pocket.

        The less hardest way is already a big pain in the ass. There are three main frequencies for NFCs. You gotta figure out which your card(s) are. Then buy a matching cloner (example A, example B) and however many smaller form-factor FOBs.

        The more hardest way is to buy a NFC reader/writer (I bought this one because it works with libnfc), blank media as above, and then use the mifare crack / cloner software that's all over Google Code.

        (libnfc does it out of the box. Dump a card, write to another card. Everyone uses the same set of ten crypto keys.)

  12. You could pull the lock cylinder and discard the pins. Then you would get a mailbox that would open with anything (any key, screwdriver, strong fingernail). If you leave only one pin intact you will get a lock that won't turn until you insert _something_ in the lock, but it will be very forgiving-- you can choose the pin length so that a tool of your choice will work. Ebay is the easiest place to buy pins/tools.

    One possible failure mode to making your mailbox cylinder match your door key: If I can find out where you live, I now know that I can make a key for your door by stealing your mailbox lock for an hour and measuring the pins.

  13. Colby Russell says:

    I used to live in a shared apartment where tenants were each issued one key. It would open both the front door and the mailbox and the tenant's bedroom, but not the bedrooms of the other tenants. (Neat, huh?) You could call and ask who their dealer is.

    • Anthony says:

      That's not that hard to do - the front door has three pins, and each bedroom has those three pins in common, and the other three pins vary for each room. This significantly reduces the security against lockpicking if the burglar knows that the keying is done that way, but does not make it any less secure against foot-picking.