The case of the bent key

This happened 30 years ago and I still wonder about it. We lived in a flat which was on the second storey of the building. There was a Yale type deadlock on the door, which we locked on going to bed. After locking the door I placed the key on a nearby table.
One morning we were leaving for work and I picked up the key to unlock the door, but found that it would not fit into the lock. I then noticed the key was bent into a smooth arc that only allowed it to enter the lock by about 4mm. I had to hammer the key straight to fit completely.
My question is, what made the key bend? These keys are very strong and couldn’t bend without a fair amount of force. Can anyone come up with a scenario that would bend a key while it rested on a table overnight?

Yuri Geller.

I think he may have been living next door at the time, but I’m ruling out supernatural forces at this stage.

my car door key is constantly bent. Probably from me holding my heavy laptop case while unlocking or locking it. The weight of the object in my hand is not stable and creates a lot of side force and leverage against the key. Keys are not made of hardened steel but easily bent brass or aluminum.

Not that I’ve noticed. I couldn’t manage to straighten this key by hand.

it was bent as it was pulled out of the lock. It’s leverage just as if you stuck the key 4mm into a vice and bent it. It doesn’t take much. In fact, if the lock freezes up you can twist most any key off leaving the body of it in the lock and that takes a lot more energy.

I routinely straighten my key out by inserting it into the lock and gently bending it back straight. “Gently” being the key word.

That’s what I thought first, but there is no way I could have pulled out the key and bent it without being aware of it. I’m 75 years of age, and I have never had another key bend in my life. I don’t understand why you refer to keys as “soft metal”
The keys I have are not able to be bent by hand, they don’t" twist off" in my hand, and I don’t “routinely straighten my keys” as apparently you do. On the day this happened I could clearly recall taking the key out of the lock the night before with no effort involved. As the door was inside a building there was no ice involved. Rest assured I have thought of all your suggestions many times since then.

Have you shared this story before on the board? Strange sense of déjà vu when I read it.

I don’t think so, but at my age, who knows?

Could there have been two keys, and you picked up the second key from the table?

What!!! I’m an adult, not a child, FFS.

Does anyone else have a key? Its a nasty trick, but people can be lazy:

The Rationalization:

My key is now bent & not functional. Your key on the table is not. I shall take your key and leave my bent key because I need a working key* now*.
I will add “going to get a duplicate key” onto my to-do list. I’m entitled to do this because I need it [Veruca Salt] Nooooow… [/Veruca Salt].

The Discovery Rationalization:

Oh, well… you seem happy to think ghosts did it. I get to keep the good key and have now saved the $2.50 cost of replacing it. How Thrifty of me…!

Sorry, but you are making up stuff to justify your comments. This is my quote from my second post.

So, I’m NOT happy thinking a ghost did it, I actually think a ghost didn’t do it, a point that I thought I’d made clear earlier.

Modern day keys are indeed a soft metal. Brass or aluminum. The fact that you can’t bend one with your bare hands is more a function of the small size of a key and your ability to grip it well enough to bend it. Most key-cutting places like Home Depot etc, can’t even cut hard metal keys anymore. Typically you have to get an old school locksmith to cut those.

A generic Yale padlock? Certainly a brass key if it is an original key, or an aluminum one if a duplicate. Either easily bent when pulling it out in haste.

I HATE it when he daydreams. I’ve dumped ice cream all over my shirt when the spoon suddenly bent…

i’m going with a leprechaun. do your shoes seem not to wear out?

when you unlock the door and you might start opening it as you pull the key out. with the actions involved it might be easy to not notice it being bent.

No answer but a similar experience - a 20 oz steel finishing hammer that’s either in my work van or on the job got pulled out of my tool box a couple of months ago…and was bent and completely useless. Absolutely no idea how; even being run over by a truck shouldn’t bend a hammer like that. And it wasn’t run over by a truck, I am pretty sure on this.

We also made jokes about Yuri Geller, but it will probably remain a mystery forever unsolved.

No - there is no way the key bent while resting on the table at night.

You simply are misremembering something - didn’t notice the key was bent as you removed it from the lock - or another person was responsible for it.

You don’t mention why the key needed to be removed from the doorlock at night - was this cause there was a window nearby?

You mentioned “we” - so obviously other people had access to the key.

There is no way to say the following without sounding like a dick - so I apologize in advance.

The fact that you seem to have a hard time grasping what people are talking about when they mention the turning of the key while removing it can bend a lock leads me to believe you are unfamiliar with this common reason keys get bent. Many people - maybe even most use locks incorrectly. They either use the key to push open a door or pull the key with the cylinder in the half turned position to close the door itself. I see tons of people that do this. It is almost second nature - and I doubt that people that do it are even aware of it.

I am pretty sure that those of us that ARE aware of this - are aware that other people do not do this correctly. Therefore - the fact that you didn’t mention this in your OP - nor the habits of your roommate - plus later comments made - leads me to believe you aren’t aware of this phenomenon. Even if you always used proper door locking and unlocking behavior - it doesn’t mean your roommate(s) did - which can bend a key - that was then further damaged when removed from the lock.

All it takes is one time for the key to be slightly midway out of the cylinder with too much pressure applied (like carrying in groceries) and the key is bent. If you don’t believe me - go take a gallon of milk - put it in a bag - stick a key in - oh maybe four millimeters and see if you can’t bend a key (I wouldn’t do this with a door you care about).

Or use the method suggested above with the vice. It would not even occur to me to use a hammer to bend a key back in place. Nor would I even attempt to bend a key with my bare hands. It is easy to bend a key back into place using the method mentioned by Magiver.

You seem to mention the 4 millimeters as being some proof of the degree the key way bent, but in reality - you are much more likely to bend a key in situations like I describe within the first four millimeters than say the first 15.

There are four other options I can think of:

  1. There was something wrong with the lock and the bendiness of the key combined with the problem in the lock allowed it to only go in four mm - by straightening the key - you hit the pins more head on and therefore the lock was more forgiving.

  2. Someone broke in to fuck with you.

  3. Someone else in your place replaced another bent key with that one. Unlikely of course if they are trying to get out of the house too, but maybe they really liked you and wanted you to stay home :slight_smile:

  4. Someone was sleepwalking at night and attempted to leave the house. They had trouble unlocking the door and bent the key in the process.

Your welcome to still believe in the mysterious key, but I think Magiver nailed it

Thank you for your comments and ideas. As Sherlock Holmes said

So by Sherlocks logic the truth must be that I bent the key removing it from the lock,
no ghosts, no Yuri Gellor, no supernatural forces, just plain old garden variaty human error.

Actually, Spock said that, during one of his time-traveling sojourns. (It was in that Star Trek re-boot movie a couple years ago.) I’m thinking that Sherlock Holmes must have heard that and picked up on it.

Actually, the OP’s title does sound like a Sherlock Holmes story, doesn’t it?