How to Choose A Best Key Cutting Machine for Beginners?


What is a good automotive key cutting machine to start with?


Here are some brief reviews of the most popular key cutting machines on the aftermarket.

First you can’t compare Manual and Automatic machines. They have different key ranges. Here come with pros and cons of major key cutting machines?


1.Xhorse Key Cutting Machines

Xhorse Dolphin And Condor

The cheapest decent cutter is definitely the xhorse dolphin. Xhorse Dolphin machines seems to be most popular. dolphin xp005 is cheaper if you’re on a very small budget. The Dolphin has 4 clamps, with tibbee, sx9, car keys, normal and dimple cylinders.  It is probably the best key cutting machine to start with, as it gives you a decent range of keys for a decent price. You will also need a cloner.

Keeping it updated isnt quite as effortlessly done, it’s not good for cutting house keys to code, and isn’t the greatest for car keys. Some are fine, but some don’t tend to come out terribly accurate. It’s what most locksmiths started with, and users still have it for certain things (mostly as an emergency backup if other key cutters breaks down). so we can tell you it’ll do the job, but it is limited.

They are not as turnkey friendly but can be figured out with a little time.  There are some keys it will not cut but not too many once you learn it.

The dolphin is ok now, they fixed some bugs. Some small issues remain, but over time, they improve it.

It is not so expensive, and has this universal duplication feature. The clamps, are good, and the new model clamps, will be even better.
Tibbe Ford, and sx9, extra clamp, work very well. The Dolphin is mobile, you take it where you need it. And you can not rely on a single cutting tool. So it could become your backup, if you decide on a more expensive cutter.

Condor II is more durable to do more keys. The condor is a nice automotive machine. dolphin will not cut resigental keys by bitting, condor ii does.  It’s been a decent machine but getting into automotive is more expensive. It’s a pretty damn good machine even though it doesn’t have the battery operation advantage of the Dolphin 2. Cutting quality is much the same between Condor and Dolphin from our direct comparison.



2. Black Widow Key Cutting Machine

Black Widow Key Cutting Machine

Black widow from AKS is imo hands down the best budget cutter. On the cheaper side, works very well, has plenty of jaws available for special keys, and keeps itself up to date effortlessly.
It is a fantastic all around machine. It cuts everything, Commercial, Residential, Automotive keys but medeco.

Software has been amazing. Full automotive code series, progression chart, decoding by picture and easy to use. The machine itself will cut all single and double sided, dimple keys like Multlock, tibbe, tubular, laser and residential / commercial. It uses the same jaws as Triton and can operate on 12V with a simple cable.

Relatively solid for a new machine.  The machine is essentially a Triton. Black widow does a lot of the same things as Triton uses Triton jaws kind of like the dolphin and condor.

For the price it’s an excellent buy.


3. Kukai Key Cutting Machine

Kukai Sec E9 Pro

SEC-E9 Pro seems reasonable priced. It has got a display like the condor mini.

Kukai SEC-E9 Pro is a cheap Chinese machine that runs off an app you put on your phone. We’ve been using one for 2 years and cut probably about 1000 keys with no issues. Pretty impressed for being cheap.  The standard clamp will do most all automotive except tibbe. Additionally, there is a $200 clamp that you can buy for single sided residential/commercial and automotive.
We have one key machine on 3 of our vans. (2 Futuras and a SEC-E9 Pro). Personally, for the money, we love the SEC-E9 Pro!!!

There is also a Kukai Alpha model and can’t complain, great machine for the money.  kukai Alpha pro does not have a battery. Need to run from car with inverter power supply. its menu seems very good written. in the menu has key card creation tool and it can cut household keys too. Cut lots of keys with it and it’s spot on.

But their new machines need more time to measure the clamp before start to cut the key.


4. Slica Futura Pro

Silca Futura Pro

Silca Futura will come.pretty close, can cut Kaba Series with jaws, assa 7 cut, all auto keys, dimple, magnum, sx9, tibbie, tubular, no mortice keys however. So can’t cut everything.

One of our customers has got the latest Silca Futura Na, and not happy with it… a £9000 machine!, does not cut/decode most cylinder keys, Ym!5, Maz24, Hu101, Va6 and hu64 blades, foned Silca rep few times, but the Usuall do it like this or like that BS story.

There is clamp that must be replaced also a some metal algment parts that must be used.

Futura Auto has a self-centering near universal clamp for all track keys, only need to change for edge cut, tibbe or tubular keys. The gauging process is quicker than say a Dolphin. Keyline Gymkana is similar as well. But neither of these machines do a particularly good job of edge cuts.

Futura Auto uses an entirely different jaw arrangement to Futura and Futura Pro. It’s a self centering near universal jaw for track keys. You need to replace for edge cuts but it’s not great at edge cuts in the first place.


5. Triton Key Cutting Machine

Triton Key Cutting Machine

The Triton is pretty great so far. Nice user interface and cuts a ton of keys.
The Triton will cut any commercial key sergeant Corbin.
Triton Plus has never give us an issue. it will cut just about anything. size is alot butter compared to futura. and it can take a beating. Futura has some more capabilities but is a very large machine and can be more complicated to use.
triton key machine is newest latest most complete machine as far as we can see that has a decent price.

made by lock labs
high security
edge cut
single sided
8 cut and 6 cut tibbe
custom key tool built into machine!!

But it is expensive ($3,950.00), no dealers outside U.S and needs a few clamps to do almost all key types.


6.Keyline 994 machine

Kl Gymkana 994

It seems expensive to operate as cutters and jaws are very expensive compared to others.
They’re stout machines. but this 994 has a issue maybe resolvable by software update and tech support. It breaks off tracers while in calibration. It’s most likely a build up of small shavings and dust between the tracer and cutter. Clean the hell out of the machine with a shop vac and some compressed air.
The 994 might not be the easiest to use or fastest but it’s versatile and covers a broad range. You shouldn’t have to rebuy jaws. If so you’re doing something wrong. We have extra jaws. if you need to buy any.
As for your problem it’s most likely a build up of small shavings and dust between the tracer and cutter. Clean the hell out of the machine with a shop vac and some compressed air.
So far the 994 seems to be rugged. Cutters you can obtain from many alternate sources for better than half price. Jaws are a fairly minor investment. Cheaper than a new machine that you would still have to get jaws and cutters for.



7. CGDI Godzilla Key Cutting Machine

CGDI Godzilla

Looks good, with display and phone function, for that price!

Been very happy with what cgdi provided before, and the updates.
It’s our main machine had it just over two years now.



8. Ninja laser key cutting machine

Ninja Laser

The ninja laser has to date been a good machine , always cut a perfect key and always quickly , the only pain is the boot up time for the liger software consul which is 3 to 4 minutes , 7 years of untroubled service so far. It cuts quickly and perfectly every time.



In sum:

One machine won’t do everything.

For budget friendly, get Dolphin XP005/XP005L or SEC-E9 Pro.

SEC E9 PRO is affordable and a pretty damn decent machine for the money. Dolphin is a great machine if you want to pay a bit more.

Dolphin XP005 is the best starter key cutting machine. It is the best solution with small budget. Dolphin/Condor Mini is not perfect, a good locksmith will make corrections, and even the strongest

Next cutter will be the Black Widow, Triton ultimate or a Futura. Futura and Triton have multiple motorcycle blade coverage.

Any machine has glitches, and many cars have specific quirks – keys can not be simply decoded and cut without knowing these quirks. There’s always learning curve how to deal with these glitches and quirks, there’s no way around it.
For example, Dolphin it’s not ideal but in most cases it does the job after we learn some of its glitches.

If you can’t stretch the budget to the Silca machine buy a Dolphin key cutting machine and use it to bring in cash to fund a better machine.



Read more:

SEC-E9 vs. Slica vs. Laser Key Products vs. Keyline Key Cutting Machine