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What is a Key Cupboard?

By B. Turner
Updated May 16, 2024
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A key cupboard is a small cupboard used to store keys to the various locks within a home or business. These cupboards may be wall-mounted cabinets or smaller models that sit on a table or desktop. In the home, a key cupboard is often designed to hold just a dozen keys or so, while commercial key cabinets may have to accommodate hundreds or thousands of keys. Key cabinets are also popular in facilities that handle keys for customers, including valet parking services and home maintenance companies.

Home key cabinets generally are small and include several different hooks to hold house or car keys for different members of the family. These cupboards include space for keys used everyday, as well as those used less often, such as keys to a basement or attic space. A home key cupboard helps to prevent lost keys, and can make it easier to keep track of keys that are used infrequently. These cupboards also serve as a popular means of organization, and may include space for other important objects, such as wallets or mobile phones.

In the home, a key cupboard frequently serves as a decorative feature, and often is made of fine wood that matches the surrounding décor. Some handy homeowners may make a key cabinet themselves as a demonstration of woodworking skills, or simply to save money and keep keys organized. Home key cupboard units often incorporate additional features, such as a mirror or clock. Others feature a simple picture or design positioned above a row of brass key hooks.

In a commercial setting, the key cupboard plays an important role in key control. These boxes are typically made of steel for added security, and may feature a mechanical or electronic lock to restrict access to keys. The cupboard holds copies of all the keys in the building, making it easy to replace a lost key. Typically, only certain individuals have access to this cupboard, including janitors, owners, and maintenance personnel. The keys within the cupboard are labeled, and each cabinet must be sized to accommodate all the keys used in the building.

Some commercial buildings also have a separate key cupboard located outside of the structure. These cabinets are sometimes known as Knox® boxes. The cabinet features a lock on the outside that can be unlocked by a key held by the local fire marshal. The box contains keys to allow emergency access to the building during a fire or other event, and helps to prevent excessive damage during emergency entry.

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