Drift Key Origin

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Forum topic by Noab posted 03-21-2013 03:49 PM 2337 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 3014 days

03-21-2013 03:49 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

What’s the origin of the name “drift key”? Poked around the web and found lots of pictures and keys for sale, but no hint of where the name comes from.

3 replies so far

View ChrisK's profile


1948 posts in 3051 days

#1 posted 03-21-2013 05:20 PM

drift – a driving movement or force; impulse; impetus; pressure
key – a small metal instrument specially cut to fit into a lock and move its bolt

-- Chris K

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2118 posts in 2650 days

#2 posted 03-21-2013 06:30 PM

Very interesting . I googled ’ keys ’ and then found myself reading way too much about Egyptian locks ,and realized

I was way off track with that search . Then I searched the Kama Suta and all I could find was a

description of how it was used , but not the origin .

” The chuck slowly and sensuously, in turn, squeezes and releases the prana of the bit. When the moment is right the drift key is inserted into the chuck , releasing it from the cycle of rebirth in a climactic release of punarbhava . ~ Kama Sutra

Well , that was little help . I moved on to researching the murky history at the dawn of the
industrial revolution . I was looking for a machinist’s journal or something from the early days ,but found ,oddly,
that it’s not a popular subject on the net ; it’s not like it is trending on yahoo .

Of course in Boating and nautical terms we all know what a drift key is :

Drift Key : Key awarded to the member of the boating party who is deemed most likely to be sober enough to start the engine when the boat is drifting periliously towards the rocks .

I found out tha you doin’t need a drift key to start a drift car , regular ‘ole ignition key is fine .

So , I didn’t have any luck finding the true origin of ‘Drift Key’ , but happily I did find the

origin of ’ Chuck Key ’.....fascinating…............

Chuck Key : The key used by the cooks on wagon trains to lock away their valuable supply of beef jerky from hungry critters and sneaky cowboys .

View IrreverentJack's profile


727 posts in 2812 days

#3 posted 03-21-2013 07:56 PM

Drift key-drift pin. My guess is it has to do with the taper and that both move/align holes in metal. -Jack

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