Keys wear over time, the metal can fatigue, and keys snap. Most often, you have a key break inside the lock cylinder you’re trying to open.
The question is, “how do you pull the key out of the lock if this happens?” You’ll find some methods work, and some don’t when researching how to get broken key out of lock. For any of these techniques to work, you need the key in the correct key position, or you’ll need to get the lock into the open position.
Luckily, without searching for specialized tools, you can use tools you already have around the house to remove a broken key from a lock. If you’re lucky, you can use tweezers or small needle-nose pliers to pull the key from the lock if it isn’t in too deep.
If it’s deep inside, you have the potential to use a small jigsaw blade, paperclip, or possibly a glue gun to stick the key pieces together and pull the key out.
However, if your key broke in lock and you need more clarification on how to try the above methods, you can go through this guide and see how to get a broken key out of a lock the easy way. (Read Can I Shoot A Pellet Gun In My Backyard)
By the end, you’ll know all there is about removing a broken key, and if it is at all possible, or you need a professional locksmith to help remove broken key.
How Not to Remove Broken Half of Key
Many individuals believe that if their key breaks in the lock, they can open it using the broken part of the key. You can discover this is one of the worst things to try.
Trying to re-insert the key forces the blade deeper into the lock. The shallower the key is seated, then the easier and quicker any of the following methods work.
Keep the broken key part safe even if it is not needed at the moment. Once you remove key from a lock, you can give both pieces to the professional locksmiths in your hardware store that cut keys to get a replacement.
Quick Ways for Removing a Broken Key
Here are a few of the necessary materials you can gather from around your home to help you for removing broken keys stuck in a lock.
- Metal hair clip or bobby pin
- Paper clip and or safety pin
- First aid kit or emergency kit
- Old Playing card
- Pocket knife
- Eyebrow scissors
- Rolling Pin
- Needle nose pliers
- Small hacksaw blade
Before attempting any key removal techniques, you’ll need your lock in the unlocked position, or you will need a local locksmith to fix the issue and give you a new key.
Most people reach for tweezers when a key breaks in the lock. Your primary worries should be the tweezer’s thickness and broken key distance in the lock. Most tweezers are too small for the job, and you push the other half of the door key farther into the keyway. Make sure your tweezers open wide enough to fit around the key but not too thick to fit the sides of your key piece.
Tweezers won’t fit because most keyways are warded. To get a broken key out of a lock, there should be some of the key protruding from the keyhole. The odds that you push the key deeper rise dramatically when it is too far back.
Chances are, you won’t have a broken key extractor lying around, but you could have a mini hacksaw blade or a small jigsaw blade.
You need a thin metal component that can fit your keyway with your broken key; therefore, the smaller, the better. Use needle-nose pliers to break the blade and put the serrated edge into the lock. (Find the Best Sawzall Blades)
Wrap duct tape around the blade to make a temporary handle and save you from hurting your fingers. Before inserting the thin piece into the lock, flush the lock with spray lubricant if possible.
If your blade’s serrations are angled, insert it in the keyway, so they face you. This will help the blade and key hook in quickly. Similar to the broken key extractor, align the blade’s serrations with the key’s biting. Turn and pull your broken key out. If the key does not come out the first time, try again.
Tap the Lock
To tap the lock cylinder, you need to direct the keyway downward. Unfortunately, this method only works on locks that you can move, such as a lock on a bike chain. Strike the lock using a small hammer or tap the corner on a solid surface. If you are lucky, then the broken piece will ease from the keyway, where you can then grab hold of it using your tools.
Alternative Ways to Remove Broken Key
Here are a few other methods you can use to remove the broken key from a door lock.
In certain situations, the key may not be fully inserted into the lock and sticking out so you can grab it with a pair of needle-nose pliers.
Be careful not to overdrive the key. Either you have enough key sticking out to grab the broken edge, or you don’t.
Some paper clips come with a grooved edge and are thin enough to fit inside the lock cylinder. It can take you several attempts to gently pull the key out as the paperclip doesn’t offer much strength as your quick hook extractor.
Lubricate Your Lock
WD-40 or graphite powder works well for key extraction. But you might have trouble getting the powder between the key and the lock.
The ideal strategy is to squeeze the plastic tube nozzle against the lock entrance, forcing the powder into the lock and around the broken key. If the powder isn’t penetrating, try lubrication spray. It’s a liquid, so it can get into places powder can’t.
It takes a few minutes for oil-based lubricants to dissolve any rust or move dirt particles, which causes the sticking of your brown key. You can find graphite powder works much faster, and you can start using your hook extractor on your stuck key.
Probe and Grab
After lubricating the lock, you may use a flathead screwdriver or your small jigsaw blades or coping saw blade to coax the key piece from inside the lock. Just make sure not to catch the broken key blade when inserting your screwdriver for key extraction.
You can use the pins, small drill bit, or another small object to grab either side of the key fragment in the same way and ease the car key out of the key hole where you can grab it with your larger tool such as your pliers. (Read Socket Size Chart Metric And Standard)
Broken Key Extractor
Professional broken key extractor tools solve this issue. If the locksmith you hire doesn’t make their tools, this is the tool they’ll use. Also, note that the broken key and door lock cylinder core need to be in the open position, or you won’t get the broken key stuck in the key cylinder out.
Place your tool within the keyway along the key’s biting. To clarify, you’ll be trying to connect the key’s teeth onto the extractor’s hook.
Turn and pull along the biting to grab and remove the key. It can take several attempts to remove the key broken inside the door key cylinder.
Should you wish to buy a broken key extractor, you’ll find they come in kits, and many of the included parts are not needed. Some use a single hooked key extractor for broken keys, while others use a double hooked door key extractor to drag the key from the key slide.
Last is one method that isn’t highly recommended yet worth trying if you are in a fix. Super Glue has as many failures as it does successes. You should only try this if the piece of key is visible and offers easy access. The second you push super glue into the lock, it will be game over. (Read How To Get Nail Glue Off Skin)
You’ll need a thin wire, a paper clip, a bobby pin, or a similar tool here.
- Apply a small drop of Super Glue on the end of your makeshift tool.
- Carefully remove any excess glue that could stick to the lock.
- Gently press it against the broken key, and make sure you don’t push so the working key slides deeper inside the lock.
- Hold the tool in place until the glue dries. Although it appears to be fast, you’ll need to give it a few minutes to cure.
- After the glue has dried, gently pull the tool and hopefully remove the broken key piece with no more effort.