Shadetree Locksmith, cut your own keys.


Active member
Jun 2, 2018
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Cass, WVa
Vehicle Year
Make / Model
Engine Size
4.0 SOHC
Disclaimer: The Ranger, The Ranger Staff, nor the original poster are responsible for you doing this modification to your vehicle. By doing this modification and following this how-to you, the installer, take full responsibility if anything is damaged or messed up. If you have questions, feel free to PM the original poster or ask in the appropriate section of The Ranger forums.

Tools needed: the LISHI Key Cutter, or similar tool for cutting/notching keys. A good file and an old dull pocket knife to use as a de-burring tool.
Parts needed: Cheap blank keys to practice on.


Most Ford dealerships want over 100 dollars to cut and program a chip key, Ace Hardware wants $89 to clone one. I can get (and have bought) Ford OEM blank chip keys for less then $20 each on Amazon, the only problem is finding someone willing to, and with a modern enough machine to cut your key for you. The solution? Cut your own! Use a tool like the LISHI Key Cutter. I bought it and 10 cheap blank keys to practice on.

Just hold the blank key in the cutter using your original key as a guide, cut the big notches first and then the smaller notches. Use a file and a dull pocket knife to clean up the sharp edges. Practice till you're good at it then you can cut your own expensive (10 to 25 dollar) chip keys.

You can measure your Ford key (8 cut, groove 82 style) keys and write down the number for future reference, a locksmith with the right equipment can make you a new key just from the "cut numbers"
Or, you could make a non-chip copy and keep it somewhere safe in case of emergency..

If your key cylinder goes bad or some jerk messes it up trying to steal yer ride, you can "re-key" a new or used key cylinder to match your original keys by changing out the wafers to match your key. (the wafers are numbered, and match the "cut numbers" for your key, see above.)

There are many good videos online on how to "re-key" a Ford Strattec key cylinder, I recommend watching a few of them before trying it, then get a used cylinder or a cheap replacement to practice on (I got one off Amazon for $11.95) So far I haven't seen one that describes the difference between a "sidebar" and a "non-sidebar" style key cylinder, so hopefully the reference material listed below will help with that.

The difference between sidebar and non-sidebar wafers.

FIG. 3

The difference between a sidebar and non-sidebar key cylinder at a glance, they fit the same and look almost identical.

The sidebar system was used up to about 2002 and was replaced with a more reliable system using only the wafers to lock the cylinder.

The non-sidebar wafers protrude upward and downward from the key "plug" into slots in the cylinder housing. (see FIG. 1) Each wafer matches a "cut" in the key, when the proper key is inserted the ends of the wafers move to a position out of the slots allowing the key plug to rotate.
Sidebar style wafers do not protrude from their slots in the plug (see FIG. 5, above) and rely on the sidebar to keep the plug from rotating until the proper key is inserted.
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