Revolar is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

How to Cut a Padlock Without Bolt Cutters: 5 Effective Ways

Fact checked by Teddy B.Miller

how to cut a padlock without bolt cutters

Surely you have once left your keys in the house and locked the door. Unfortunately, when you return and cannot enter the house, you are not good at picking the locks or do not have the tools to do so. It can be frustrating but don’t worry. You can cut the padlocks!

I used to forget my key like that and thought, with bolt cutters, I can easily cut the lock. However, with durable steel material, only bolt cutters with the right handle length can be used to cut the locks. So, with what I have consulted and experienced, I will share my knowledge about how to cut a padlock without bolt cutters. The process will be presented step by step in three main sections:

  • Preparation
  • Step-by-step processes
  • Tips and tricks

Things You Will Need


Angle Grinder
This can be the best way to cut a lock. Known as a side grinder disc grinder, this is a mobile machine used for sharp cutting and honing. The 60 grit disc, which is 3⁄64 inches (1.2 mm) in thickness, is the ideal size. It is compact but can be used to cut thick metal shackles. I recommend buying a battery-powered angle grinder because it is portable and will come in handy when there is no electrical outlet to plug.
Cutting torch
Through this blowpipe, the metal will be heated and quickly oxidized, with fire and heat generated. Then, a jet of oxygen emanating from the center of the flame will shine through the heated area, cutting off your metal rod. Cutting torches are standard tools that you can find at construction sites or metal stores.
Two wrenches (one ¾ inch and one 13/16 inch)
This is a useful trick that I learned from a Youtube channel. You will need two wrenches with two different sizes. You can use wrenches of different sizes, but one must be larger than the other, and one side of each should add up to the space among the shackles.
A Halligan bar and an ax
This method is often done by firefighters as I have been told that these tools always appear in their kit. This way you will need to have courage and be careful because you need to hit down to create enough force on the bar. You may get hurt if you miss the hit.
Hacksaw and propane torch

A propane torch is a gadget that utilizes propane, a hydrocarbon gas, as its source to create fire or heat. The manufacturing, construction, and metal-working sectors are the most typical users of this tool.

You’ll need a hacksaw with working serrations to cut the lock because the propane torch can’t cut the key on its own as a cutting torch can. This is the last option that you can choose in case the above tools are not available because it is quite time-consuming.

Step-by-Step Process


1. Cutting the lock with angle grinder


Step 1: Prepare a face shield and gloves.

The process of using this angle grinder can create sparks and metal splinters due to the friction process. So, wearing those items in advance will ensure your safety.

Wear a shirt with long sleeves for added safety. Keep nearby flammable objects away as they can cause a fire. To be extra careful, you can prepare a fire extinguisher.

Step 2: Keep the padlock in stable position

You can use some items, such as a vise or a plier to fix and limit the movement of the lock when performing the cutting process. Choose a tool that can be clamped to the width or length of the lock as there will be no fulcrum for it.

Step 3: Start on the shackle of the padlock.

If you don’t have the tools to keep the lock stable, you can try placing the grinder blade perpendicular to the U-shackle. Cut slowly as the process can create sparks. There’s no need to put too much pressure as the motor will do it for you.

After successfully cutting the lock, avoid placing your hand near the cut area as it is still quite hot due to the heat generated. If that doesn’t work, you can try with the other side of the shackle.

2. Cutting the lock with cutting torch


Step 1: Open your oxygen and acetylene tank

There are a few tips to this step to avoid overheating. According to experience and advice from others, you need to fully open the oxygen tank and a quarter of the other.

Step 2: Set the PSI

Acetylene storage tanks are pressurized at a significantly lower pressure than oxygen tanks, at around 250 psi. Yet, unlike oxygen, acetylene is unstable and can not be used in a torch with pressure of more than 15 psi. To cut off a padlock, I recommend you to set the PSI of oxygen between 40-50 and 5-6 for acetylene.

Step 3: Valve up the oxygen and acetylene

Some people think that the oxygen valve should be fully opened, and some people think that only half is enough. So, depending on the effect it gives, you can choose for yourself. With acetylene, I recommend only opening a little to avoid the unexpected.

Step 4: Adjust the valve

This step is important because it sets the momentum for the cutting process. If black smoke is still present, you need to adjust the valve of acetylene until it no longer appears. Similar to the valve of oxygen, you need to adjust until white and concentrated smoke is formed.

3. Cutting the lock with wrenches


Step 1: Check the actual mechanism

If you don’t remember which hand it’s unlocked in, you can check in the keyhole. If one side has a larger gap, the lock shackle will fall out on the other opposite one.

Step 2: Set the wrenches

Hook one side of the smaller wrench to the side with the stationary side, the other will be placed on the side with the shackle that pops up and down. Make sure they are placed snugly next to each other and lined up in a row.

Step 3: Pull the wrenches together

It is difficult to describe in words but you can understand that, after step two, the two wrenches are in position to form a V. What you need to do is pull them together very quickly to form a straight line and apply pressure on it until you hear a “pop”. Next, you need to change the position of the two wrenches and repeat the above method. The process may take a while and requires patience. Try this step again a few times until the shackle pops out.

4. Cutting the lock with a Halligan bar and an ax


Step 1: Place the Halligan bar into position

There are two ways you can choose to place the bar. First, place it in the space between the shackles from the top, through the other side. Second, rotate the bar horizontally and place it on the top plane of the lock so the curved blade of the Halligan bar points downwards.

Step 2: Strike the bar

At this point, use the ax to knock on the flat surface of the rest of the curved blade. Knock hard several times until the shackle breaks. It sounds simple but you really need to be careful and exert enough force on the Halligan bar.

5. Cutting the lock with hacksaw and propane torch

Step 1: Heat the shackle up

Turn the valve to adjust the flame until it looks like a converging white flame. Choose a certain location to heat, avoid moving the propane torch too much. To keep it from moving, you can use the aforementioned vise or plier. The process can take up to several minutes. It is similar to making a metal bar, you need to heat it to soften before using a saw to cut padlock.

Step 2: Cool down the lock

This step is to make sure your saw is unaffected by the large amount of heat remaining on the lock. Again, this may take about a minute or two until the shackles are no longer hot.

Step 3: Cut the lock

Place the saw correctly in the heated position and put firm pressure on it. Since the use of the hacksaw is to cut metal, you may cut a lock off without bolt cutters in a minute.

Tips and tricks

  • Buy everything I mentioned above at your local hardware shops because they have similar patterns and are often used for certain industries.
  • Remember to close the valve after using heat-generating tools to avoid running out of gas and fire problems.
  • Store all tools in a storage box for easy access when needed and to avoid environmental agents.
  • Check the manufacturer information and model number on the lock body if you want to rebuy that lock.
  • Calmly try again several times if unsuccessful. You can use old locks that are no longer in use to cut a lock without bolt cutters with tools you have at home.
  • Call a neighbor or a locksmith for help instead of trying to ruin your lock in panic.


You may find other articles with similar content on other platforms. However, the knowledge I supplement you today is everything that has been selected and verified by many people. In the article on how to cut a padlock without bolt cutters, you have learned about the necessary tools as well as the best methods to break a padlock without bolt cutters.

These are life-saving methods for unfortunate cases. Anyway, although I still recommend that you have the tools ready in advance, I don’t expect this to happen to you. If you want to read more information on similar topics, do not hesitate to leave a comment below or email us at the address at the bottom of the website.

5/5 - (5 votes)