# How do master keys work?

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How do master keys work?

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A lock system with master keys has multiple ways to code the lock. Most have a pin set up in the lock core. If you have a master key system there will be 2 pins in the core allowing you to have multiple ways to create the lock. This allows you to have different keys that can all open the same door. A master key set up will use simple math so that 1 key can open all the doors. You can then have keys that are “area” masters and keys that can only open 1 door.

Basically it comes down to how the lock is pinned and how the keys are made.

It’s not a master key as much as a two- or three-key lock.

Keys work by using the bumps on the front of the key to push pins inside the lock up a certain distance. Each pin is cut into two or more segments; when the proper key is inserted into the lock, the key pushes each of the pins just right so that the cuts all line up, allowing the lock cylinder to turn and retract the bolt from the door frame.

If your lock has additional cuts in the pins, that means there are multiple keys that can push the pins up to align the various cuts with the cylinder. Thus, you can have multiple keys open a given lock. If all your locks are designed to fit a single key in addition to their normal keys, that key is a “master” key, even though the design work is actually done on the locks, not the key.