Tuwan The Key Cutter.

Tuwan hand-cuts keys on a little alley off Havelock Road. He literally copies keys using a file and pliers, which doesn't look scientific, but the keys work. Honestly, they work better than the keys we've gotten cut at Mr. Mint.

The Keys

Tuwan's office is a wall and a table propped up in an alley. On the wall he has a set of blank keys which, while not comprehensive, is the basic set of keys you would need. For our purposes we just needed a regular office key and he was able to cut that.

His basic process is as shown in the hyperlapse above. This is sped up 12x, so the whole thing takes about 5 minutes in reality. What Tuwan does is that he files the keys by hand and then cuts the ends with pliers. This seemed inaccurate and I was worried that the keys wouldn't work, but they did, perfectly.

This seems like what a key cutting shop should do (make keys that work), but you'd be surprised. We have gotten keys cut at Mister Mint multiple times that simply don't open the doors they're supposed to. YOU HAD ONE JOB. But anyways, the keys Tuwan cut for us work, which is all we could ask for. 

They cost Rs. 250 each, which ain't cheap. I suppose you could negotiate, but he's trying to make a living and it's not that much money really. Plus the keys work and he'll replace them if they don't. 


Tuwan himself is a nice guy who does his job well and didn't object to filming and was also down to chat. He's the sort of simple professional that is disappearing in Colombo (the bombai muttai man, the knife sharpener, the fish monger) and which the next generation may not know about.

It only takes a few minutes and it's definitely a richer experience than your average shop.


Tuwan is a nice guy who cuts keys well. You can find him down the alley between HNB and Herman Miller, on Havelock Road.

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