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Lockout Tips

What to Do When Your Key Breaks in the Lock

When your key breaks off inside the lock, you might panic. Stop to think before trying to open the door. You have several options to extract the broken key, but the best way will depend upon the situation. Where are you? Do you have any tools available? How deeply is the broken key inserted?

Once you have determine the best method, be patient. It may take more than one try to remove the broken key.

This is a two part blog series on the six methods to extract a broken key. Here are the first three.


When a key breaks off in the lock, most people go right for the tweezers.  Your main concerns should be the thickness of your tweezers and how far the broken key is in the lock. Most tweezers are inappropriately sized for this task and will just end up pushing the key farther into the keyway. Make sure that your tweezers can open wide enough to fit around the key, but not so thick that they cannot fit along the sides of the key. Getting a broken key out of a lock with tweezers will work best if there is a bit of the key protruding from the keyhole.

Broken Key Extractor

A broken key extractor tool is the professional solution to this problem. If the locksmith you contact does not make their own tools (and chances are they do not),  this will be the tool they use. To use this tool place it inside the keyway along the bitting of the key. To clarify further, you will be trying to hook the teeth on the key with the hook(s) on the extractor. Once placed along the biting, turn and pull, and this should grab and remove the key.

Jigsaw Blade

If you don’t want to buy a specialty broken key extractor, you can make one yourself out of a small jigsaw blade. What you want is a thin piece of metal that will be able to fit in your keyway along with your broken key, so the smaller the better. If needed, break the blade with some pliers so that you can insert the serrated edge into the lock. If the serrations on your blade are on an angle, place the blade in the keyway so that the serrations are pointing back toward you. This will allow the blade to go in easier, and hook the key easier.

However, the best method is to simply call 24 HR Lockouts for professional, cost effective service. Don’t risk damaging your lock. Give us a call!

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