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Lockout Tips

6 Tips to Extracting a Broken Key from a Lock

broken key

It happens at the worst time. You’re unlocking a door to your car or home, and the key breaks off right in the lock. Can you extract the broken piece yourself? Perhaps. You can try one or all of these methods to remove a broken key from a lock. If none of these methods works, contact 24 Hr Lockouts, and we will be there to help.


If you have fine tip tweezers that will fit into the lock, this may be the quickest, easiest option. However, most tweezers will be too large and simply push the key further into the keyway. The tweezer option is best for situations where a portion of the broken key protrudes out of the keyhole. Pretend you are playing the children’s game, Operation, and be very careful!

Broken Key Extractor

A mobile locksmith will generally carry a key extractor tool, or you may purchase one yourself, although they are typically sold in kits or sets. The tool is inserted into the keyway along the bitting of the key. You try to hook the teeth and pull the broken piece out.

Jigsaw Blade

If you are handy and don’t want to buy a broken key extractor, you can make one out of a small jigsaw blade. You want a thin piece of metal that will fit into the keyhole and grab one or more of the teeth to pull the broken key out. You may need to try several times for success, but it can work if you have several jigsaws lying around.

Super Glue

Only use this method if a part of your broken key extends beyond the keyhole. If the key is pushed back into the keyway, you can harm the lock. Take a small wire or wooden match and put a small amount of glue on the end. Hold the glued edge to the edge of the exposed key until it dries. Then pull out the key.

Tap the Cylinder

With the lock positioned with the keyhole facing downward, strike the lock with a hammer. The purpose of this method is to use gravity to pull the broken key loose. This is rarely an option, and you want to be careful not to damage the lock.

Probe and Pull

With two thin pieces of metal, you may be able to probe the keyhole and pull out the key. Line up the pieces on both sides of the key – not the bitting or top.  Apply pressure to grab the broken key and pull it out. This may move the key a little, so you may need to repeat.

At this point, you need to call 24Hr Lockouts to assist. In fact, we recommend calling us first because we can help quickly and efficiently. That sounds a little better than trying different DIY methods that could leave you frustrated and no better off. Contact us today!

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