Drilling out a lock should always be your last option. Once the lock is drilled, it will be ineffective and need replacing. What’s more, locks are designed to prevent people from gaining entry to a property, so it stands to reason that some lock models are designed to prevent you from being able to drill through them. Drilling through an anti-drill pin means that you will never be able to get through that lock again.
Alarmingly, there are several other methods you can attempt to help you get through that locked door. One of them may negate the need to pay for a locksmith or permanently damage your lock. It may also have you looking at your door lock in a different light – if you can get through your locked door with a pick gun, so can anybody.
If you have checked and double-checked everywhere for your keys and have exhausted all your other efforts, we have included steps on how to successfully drill through a lock, including the steps for an empty lock and the steps required if you have a key stuck in the lock.
Before you reach for the drill, however, try the following:
Before You Start
If you have tried everything else, including double-checking the bottom of your pocket to find the key, it may be time to drill the lock. Before you do, ensure that you have the owner’s permission. You will also need to have a replacement lock ready to install straight away, otherwise, the door will be left unlocked and easily accessible. Once you’ve drilled, the original lock will be unusable, so you will need the replacement.
Drill An Empty Lock
If you’ve lost a key or your key no longer works on the lock and you’ve tried everything else, you can attempt to drill into the lock to break the pins and provide access. You will need to use a different technique, outlined below if the key is still stuck in the keyhole.
1. Make A Guide Hole
You need to create a guide hole in the lock. Use a punch or a bradawl to create the hole, which should be between the inner and outer ring of the lock and in the direction of the jagged side of the key.
2. Start Small
Use a small, ⅛-inch drill bit and drill through the guide hole and into the lock. This will destroy the pins, of which most locks have five, but some have six. It should become more difficult to drill when you reach a pin and will get easier as you finish that pin.
3. Drill Slowly
Drill as slowly as possible, but do ensure that you apply constant pressure to the drill. If you drill too fast, you are unlikely to maintain the line you need and you may cause damage to other areas of the lock that will prevent this technique from working properly.
4. Increase Bit Size
Move to a ¼-inch bit and drill again, ensuring that you go into the existing hole. This will further break the pins and should make it much easier to open the lock.
5. Use A Screwdriver
Insert a screwdriver into the drilled hole and turn it in the direction you would normally turn the key. With any luck, the lock will turn and you will get access.
6. Destroy the Lock
If this didn’t work, you can go up another bit size, to a ¾-inch drill bit and then drill through the hole again to destroy the lock mechanism.
Drill A Lock With The Key Jammed In
If your key snaps off in the lock, while it is locked, it can seem completely helpless. And, in a lot of cases, you will need the services of a professional locksmith, but you can try drilling the lock using the steps below.
1. Drill To The Key
With a ¼-inch drill bit, drill into the cylinder until you reach the level of the key. Ensure that you are only drilling through the metal cylinder.
2. Turn the Lock
Use a screwdriver, place it into the drilled hole, and try to turn the lock in the direction you would normally turn the key. Hopefully, this will convince the lock to open and give you access.
Drilling Out A Lock
Locksmiths have experience and knowledge of different types of locks as well as their various mechanisms, but they do not really have any additional or special tools. They will try and use the techniques above and will lock, bump, or even drill the lock on your door.
Locksmiths will use different techniques for master locks and pin locks, they will know whether a lock has anti-drilling defenses, and they will have experience of how best to deal with a certain make and model of lock. But before you call one in, you can try the techniques above. Before drilling through a lock, be aware that you will not be able to use that lock again in the future and will need a replacement immediately.
Featured Image Credit: Volodymyr Plysiuk, Shutterstock
Pete has been working in the trades since high school, where he first developed a passion for woodworking. Over the years, he has developed a keen interest in a wide variety of DIY projects around the home. Fascinated by all sort of tools, Pete loves reading and writing about all the latest gadgets and accessories that hit the market. His other interests include astronomy, hiking, and fishing.
As the founder of House Grail, David’s primary goal is to help consumers make educated decisions about DIY projects at home, in the garage, and in the garden.
- 1 Before you reach for the drill, however, try the following:
- 2 Before You Start
- 3 Drill An Empty Lock
- 4 Drill A Lock With The Key Jammed In
- 5 Drilling Out A Lock