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Antique Safes/Stearns & Marvin key operated safe


QUESTION: I am a locksmith in Texas and attempting to make a key for a early Stearns & Marvin key operated safe. Lock is a 6 lever or spring lock.  Bolt is operated through a separate hole with a rod inserted to move bolt work. When you put the key ion it depresses the springs to the appropriate depth to allow retraction of the bolt work. Could you direct me to a possible source of a key blank and the rod for the bolt retraction hole.  THanks in advance for any help you may be able to provide.

ANSWER: Hi Gary,  

sorry but there are no sources for 150 year old safe keys.  You are going to have to hand fabricate them.  Welcome to basic locksmithing 1850's style.

hand fabrication of key's and locks 150 years ago was performed routinely with far fewer tools than are easily available today - likr dremel tools etc.

Wish I was closer to offer more "hands on help", but sounds like you are going to be on your own.

best I can offer would be to make a key if you send the lock to me.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I made a key using a putty knife from the hardware store but it seems to weak to accurately press all six consistently.  What material would you recommend.  Thanks again for your assistance. Gary.

Hi Gary,

There are a lot of materials that you can use, however as noted some may be weaker or softer, and some may be harder and/or more brittle.    This is going to be dependent on the material you choose.

I actually have a couple metal companies nearby, so I can get anthing that I want to work with.

One alternative would be to get a suitable size pocket knife (single blade), and hand fit the blade into your key shape.    Then the customer would have a folding key.    If you do a nice job it will be almost display quality, and the metal would be suitably hard.

As with anything, the end product is only held in check by your immagination and your customers wallet.

Hope this gives you some ideas.

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 40 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of two Tilton & McFarland Safes from the 1860's. Will answer Safe & Vault related questions concerning age, value, restoration, moving, opening & repairing, parts, operation and history. Note: It is not my intention to teach you to open safes or to provide information which may aid in the unlawful opening of a safe. I will not give out drill points or information which I deem inappropriate.


40 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. Service Manager for one of the largest Safe & Vault companies on the West Coast. Graduate of Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing, Safe lock Manipulation and Safe Deposit Lock Courses. Graduate of Locksmith Institute. Certified Instructor for the California Locksmith Association teaching Basic and Advanced Lock Servicing, Basic Safe opening and Repairing. Factory Trained by AMSEC, LORD Safes, LeFebure, Mosler, KabaMas, LaGard and Sargent & Greenleaf

Safecrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association

Graduate of Locksmith Institute 1972 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing 1974 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Manipulation 1975 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Deposit Lock Servicing 1985 Instructor Certified - California Locksmith Association - 1985 Factory trained by AMSEC, MAJOR, STAR, Johnson-Pacific, Kaba-MAS, Allied-Gary, ISM, Lord, Brown Safe, EXL, Mosler, Diebold.

Awards and Honors
2009 - 2013 Listed in AllExperts top 50 Experts. All Experts Categories - Safes & Security Containers, Locksmithing, Antique Safes. Retired US Army Chief Warrant Officer (CW4), with 39 years of total service. With numerous awards from Vietnam, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. US Navy - 1971-1981 US Army Reserve 1984-2013 US Army Retired

Past/Present Clients
US Secret Service, FBI, BATF, Local Law enforcment agencies, Diebold, Hamilton Pacific, Red Hawk Int., Chubb International, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, Mechanics Bank, El Dorado Savings Bank, many Credit unions and smaller banks. McDonalds, Togos, BurgerKing, TacoBell, Carls Jr. FoodMaxx, SaveMart, Lucky's, Albertson's, Raley's, Safeway, NobHill, Bell Markets, PW Markets. Great America, Century Theatres, Cinemark Theatres, UA Cinemas, and many homeowners and small businesses. Provide warranty service for lock and safe manufactures. Service area is Northern California - Fresno to Oregon, including western Nevada

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