How To Get A Broken Key Out Of A Lock

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A month ago, in a hurry to leave home for work, I locked our backdoor only to break the key inside the lock. That rendered the door impassable which was okay for a few days, but it quickly got into everyone’s nerves. Time to call the locksmith and cough up a few hundred dollars, which I did not have at the moment. And it hit me; if all house owners who had their keys break into their locks had to call the locksmith in, then locksmithing would be a gold mine. I felt that I could find out how to get a broken key out of a lock. And find out I did!

Items needed

  • Spray lubricant or penetrating oil
  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • , or scroll saw blade


  1. You need first of all to lubricate the lock. I used some WD40 spray lubricant I had in the tool shed. I sprayed the oil straight into the lock. This helps the key slide out easier.
  2. Study the bit of the key that has broken free. If the key broke midway, you most probably have the lock still aligned. If you have the key head only, then it is probable that the lock is not aligned, and you need to turn it back to the lock’s default position. You can insert a screwdriver gently into the lock to set it to its default position.
  3. Once the key is adequately aligned use your needle nosed pliers to grip the broken bit of the key. If the key broke at its head, this should not be hard. Once you have grasped the key, gently pull it out without turning the lock.
  4. If the pliers do not succeed in pulling out the key, use the blade of your scroll saw for the next maneuver. Slide the blade in with its teeth facing downwards. Push in the blade until its teeth grab on one of the grooves on the key. Pull the blade gently out, and it should come out with the broken key in tow.


  • Ensure that you do not push the key into the lock further once it breaks off. This will only make your job harder, trying to pull it out.
  • Save the broken half of your key once you pull it out, so that your locksmith can use it to make you a duplicate key for your lock.
  • If your broken key has you locked out with no access to tools, you do need to ensure that your lock is secure before leaving your door to the store for tools. If only half the key broke in, your lock is secure and can wait till you get back. If most of the key cuts are lodged inside the lock, then your lock can be picked by any burglar with a screwdriver, so ensure that someone watches your door while you get yourself some tools.