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How to Get a Broken Key Out of a Lock

If your key broke off in the lock, you know how frustrating it can be. Not only is it difficult to get the key out, but it’s also easy to damage the lock in the process. Fortunately, there are ways to remove a broken key from a lock without causing any damage. Yes, you heard that right! Removing a broken key from a lock without causing any damage is possible.

In this blog post, we will discuss how to get a broken key out of a lock without damaging either one. We’ll also provide tips on preventing this from happening in the first place. Stay safe and stay secure!


How A Lock Works

Before we discuss how to get a broken key out of a lock, it is important to understand how a lock works. When you insert the key into a lock, the notches on the key push up the driver and key pins until they are all aligned at the shear line. 

This allows the plug to rotate freely and opens up the lock. If even one pin is not aligned correctly, the plug will not be able to rotate, and the lock will not open.

Why does a key break in a lock?

Now that we understand how a lock works let’s discuss how a key gets broken in a lock. There are a few different ways that keys can get broken in locks. Here are some of the common things that can cause a key to break:

  • inserting the key into the lock at an angle
  • trying to force the lock open with a broken key
  • worn out keys that are used too frequently
  • old or damaged locks

Make Use of Tweezers

When the key has broken in the lock, the first thing you should do is to look for a pair of tweezers. Find one with an appropriate thickness that will match the size of the broken key. Most are too small and will only end up pushing the key further. The tips should be able to open wide enough to fit around the entire key but not so thick that they can’t fit along its sides.

However, the standard size of tweezers will not work with most keyways. Tweezers will work best if the broken key is slightly sticking out of the lock. If the key is not protruding, you may push it further, making it even more challenging to remove. 

In this case, you will need to make use of another method. Many cases have proven tweezers to be the simplest and most effective tool in removing a broken key from a lock. So if you are confident in your ability to use one, go for it.

Try Using a pair of Needle Nose Pliers

Another way you can try to remove a broken key from a lock is by using a pair of needle nose pliers. This is a good tool as a broken key extractor. It can reach the inside cylinder so you can grab the broken key and pull it out. When using this method, you need to turn the key to the unlock position before you start. 

This will give you more slack to work with broken key extraction. Align the tips of the needle nose pliers with the broken key, and then grip it tightly. Once you have a good grip on the key, turn the key to the lock position and pull it outwards.

Also, be careful not to jam the key further into the lock when using needle nose pliers. This can make it even harder to remove the broken key. However, if you do it correctly, this is a great way to get a broken key out of a lock.

Use Oil

You may have heard that oil is widely used as a lubricant. This is because it can help to reduce friction. This can make it easier for you to insert or remove a key from a lock. Some professionals use dry lubricant sprays. However, these can be expensive and difficult to find. You may have some cooking oil in your kitchen that you can use instead.

To lubricate a keyhole with oil, start by applying a small amount of oil to the end of a cotton swab. Gently insert the swab into the keyhole and move it around to coat the inside of the lock. Next, insert your key into the keyhole and turn it back and forth until it feels loose. This is the best chance you have of removing a broken key from a lock. 

If you’re still having trouble, try using a stronger oil like WD-40. Apply it to the keyhole the same way as before and insert your key. Remember to turn it slowly at first, so you don’t damage the lock.

Probe and Pull Method

Another method people often use is the probe and pull method. This is where you take a small object like a paperclip or toothpick and insert it into the lock. Once the object is inserted, you twist and turn it until you feel the broken key fragment start to loosen up. 

Once loose, you can slowly pull it from the lock with your fingers or a pair of needle-nose pliers. This method does take a little bit of patience but can be successful in getting the broken key out of the lock. Here are some of the items you can use for this method.

  • Paperclip
  • Toothpick
  • Metal hair clip
  • Bobby pin
  • Safety pin
  • Button pin
  • Pocket knife
Use Glue

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it still works like a charm. This is also one of the easiest ways to remove a broken key from a lock when correctly executed. First, you’ll need to purchase some glue that is designed for metal (super glue will not work). Apply a small amount of glue to the end of a toothpick or another small object. 

Once the glue has dried, insert it into the keyway and apply pressure to the broken key. The goal is to get the glue to adhere to the broken key. Once you’ve done that, twist and turn the toothpick until the broken key pops out.

Tips for Removing a Broken Key Stuck in a Lock

As you can see, several methods can be used to remove broken keys that are stuck in a lock. These methods are proven and tested to work. However, to be able to remove the key successfully, you must know some tips.

Do Not Use Too Much Force

Always remember that a key broken off in a lock is already stuck. Applying more force will not remove it. In fact, using too much force may damage the lock or the key, making it impossible to remove. So no matter what item you are using to remove the key, be gentle.

Lubricate the Keyhole First

If the key is stuck in the lock, one of the main reasons why is because of rust. Rust can build up over time, making it difficult for the key to move. To prevent this from happening, you should lubricate the keyhole first. This will help to reduce the amount of friction between the key and the lock. You can use WD-40 or any other type of lubricant.

Figure Out Which Way the Key is Stuck

Before trying to remove the key, you must figure out which way the key is stuck. This is because you will need to insert the item you are using to remove the key in the opposite direction. For example, if the key is stuck in the lock from left to right, then you will need to insert the item from right to left. Doing this will help you think about how to apply pressure to the key to remove it.

Don’t Panic

If you find yourself with a broken key in your lock. While it may seem daunting, do not panic because there are many methods you can try to get that broken key out. If the cause of your panic is that you are not familiar with using any of these methods, then you can always call a qualified locksmith to come and do it for you.

At C&D Locksmith, we are always here to help. We guarantee fast response times and quality service, so you don’t have to worry about being stuck with a broken key in your lock.

Tips for Preventing a Key From Getting Stuck

Although there are many ways to remove the key, it is best to avoid getting into this situation in the first place. To do so, practice the following:

Pay Attention

Some people insert their key without paying attention, causing it to bend. This may happen especially when we are in a hurry or dark outside. In order to avoid this, you should take a moment to line up the key with the hole before inserting it. 

If you feel any resistance, stop and reposition the key. The resistance may cause by the key being slightly bent, so be careful not to force it in.

Wiggle Side to Side

When you feel the key is all the way in, wiggle it from side to side before turning. This will help straighten the key if it is bent and also help lubricate the lock cylinder. You should avoid doing this too vigorously as it may damage the lock.

Turn Gently

Once you have wiggled the key side to side, turn it slowly until you hear the click that indicates the lock has disengaged. If you feel resistance or hear grinding sounds, stop and try one of the other methods below. Forcing the key may cause further damage.

Use Graphite Powder

If you find that your key is getting stuck frequently, it may be because the lock is dry. In this case, you can try using graphite powder. Graphite is a lubricant that will help smooth out the lock’s inner workings.

To use it, simply insert some powder into the keyhole and then insert your key. Be sure to insert the key slowly to avoid making a mess. If you don’t have a graphite powder ready, you can use a pencil instead. Just rub the tip of the key on the pencil’s lead until a small amount of graphite appears.

Don’t Leave Your Key in the Lock

Although it may seem obvious, many people make the mistake of leaving their key in the lock. This can cause the key to become stuck over time as dirt and debris build up around it. After you have unlocked the door, remove the key and store it in a safe place.

Don’t Allow Your Key to Get Wet

Another common cause of a stuck key is moisture. If you live in an area with high humidity or if it rains frequently, your key may become stuck more often. To avoid this, try to keep your key as dry as possible. Do not store it where it is likely to get wet, such as near the sink or outside. If your key does get wet, dry it off as soon as possible.

Be Careful What You Put on Your Key

Many people use their keys to hold other things, such as a keychain or lanyard. However, this can cause the key to be bent or misshapen. In addition, the extra weight may make it more likely to get stuck in the lock. If you must put something on your key, try to keep it light and avoid attaching anything that could cause the key to bend.

Avoid Misallocated Holes

When inserting the key into the lock, be careful not to put it in the wrong hole. This can cause the key to getting stuck and may damage the lock. If you are having trouble finding the right hole, take a moment to examine the lock before inserting your key. You may forget to do this in a hurry, but it can save you time and frustration in the long run.


Having a broken key on the lock can be frustrating, but there are some ways you can remove it. Be sure to practice the tips above to avoid getting into this situation in the first place. If you find yourself with a broken key, try one of the above methods to get it out. With a little patience, you should be able to remove the key and get on with your day.

However, if you are unfamiliar with how to remove a broken key, it is best to call a locksmith. They will have the tools and experience necessary to remove the key without damaging the lock. 

Do you need a professional Locksmith? At CD Locksmith we have a team of licensed, bonded and insured locksmiths who are available 24/hours a day, seven days a week. We have the right tools and experience to get the job done quickly and efficiently. Contact locksmith Lake Worth FL today to schedule a consultation. We are here to help you!

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