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

How to Make a Barrel Lock Key With Items in Your House?

Fact checked by Teddy B.Miller

how to make a barrel lock key

Have you ever wondered about the type of lock used for home appliances, such as gas, water, telecommunications, and especially electricity? There was a time when my electric meter had a problem, and my father understood what the problem was. However, he did not know how to open the meter. The reason is, unlike most standard pin tumbler locks, you will need a specialized key to open it.

You probably don’t want to shell out a few dozen dollars for an unlocker, and neither do I. Fortunately, after a few tries with household tools, I was able to open the electric meter. So, with my step-by-step instructions on how to make a barrel lock key today, this won’t be a problem anymore. In general, there are four main sections:

  • Misconceptions
  • How it works
  • Step-by-step process
  • Tips and tricks

Misunderstanding About Barrel Lock


Although similar in appearance to tubular and cylinder locks, the way it works is completely different. To open it, we need to use its unique key, shaped like a screw, cylindrical, and seemingly unpickable.

The manufacturer has created a type of lock that I think is smart, from the material to the shape. The first is about security. Heavy springs, along with high-strength materials, such as chromate, copper, or stainless steel, are the factors that make the lock highly durable.

The one-piece design helps limit the penetration of environmental elements, such as water or dust. Finally, its compatibility makes it easy to buy locks and keys from many different manufacturers.

Barrel Lock Mechanism


The reason barrel locks are hard to pick is the possibility to rotate within an enclosed housing. When the key is inserted, the key contacts and engages the barrel, allowing the key to loosen the grip on the ball bearings.

The task can be done since the key connects and adjusts the springs where the ball bearings are placed. Then, the lock barrel becomes detachable. Now, your lock is open because the cylinder acts as a bolt, which may prevent the pivot and other equivalent functions from moving.

An example of a water meter is when the lock is designed as a ring to prevent arbitrary disassembly and environmental agents, such as water or dust, because in some places this device is attached to the outside of the wall. The same goes for telecommunications equipment, where locks are used to secure cable boxes and CATV devices from break-ins and data theft.

Step-by-Step Process


Step 1: Choose the right screw


It is the most important first step of making a homemade barrel lock meter key because if you don’t choose the correct size of the screw, it will not contact the barrel cylinder wall. Then, you can’t put pressure on the grip and pull it out to loosen the balls.

My advice is that you can smooth the body of the screw to avoid scratching the top of the lock. However, do not grind the whole thing because the serrations at the head of the screw may increase friction with the barrel cylinder.

Don’t worry if you don’t have screws at home because you can use similarly shaped objects like a screwdriver, pen, or iron core. You can then cut a piece of plastic or something wrapped around the tip of the tool. It will act like the serrations of a screw.

Pro-tip: Since the depth of the housing hole is limited, smoothing the tip of the screw is a way for it to make ample contact with the cylinder.

Step 2: Insert the screw

You need to insert the screw to the deepest place until you are sure it fits the barrel cylinder hole. However, each segment of the cylinder will have a different diameter. Therefore, you need to go slowly to avoid damaging the structure of the lock.

Step 3: Turn the screw


Once the screw is firmly attached to the housing, turn the crew to connect it with the spring-loaded mechanism. Then, you need to turn the screw a few times with your finger without using a screwdriver until you feel it lock in place. Twisting the screw with a screwdriver will create excess force, and you may break the cylinder.

In the first practice times, your screws may turn freely and do not show the right entry. That’s when it has not been inserted to its correct depth or has slipped out of the joint. What you need to do is pull out the screw and put it back in. This time you will need to create a connection between the screw and the cylinder wall to create friction and pressure.

Step 4: Pull the screw out


Inside the housing is the cylinder that is always pushed to the back and fits snugly in there. When the cylinder is pulled out, the tip with the smaller diameter will allow the balls to move a bit down but still prevent them from falling inside. At this point, the surface of the housing is flat and allows the barrel lock to come out of the meter.

With that mechanism, you can easily relock it by inserting the screw and pushing it back to the standard position. After that, with the larger diameter part of the cylinder, the ball bearings will automatically be pushed up to the locked position.

Just like step 3, if you do not apply enough force to the cylinder, it will slip out. So, feel the tip and serrations movement to make sure it’s locked in place. Calm down and try again, for a few times, until the barrel lock comes out.

Tips and Tricks

  • Measure the size of the cylinder in advance before choosing a screw to avoid having to try again and again with different types of screws.
  • Check the lock company and its model number; you may find relevant information about its diameter.
  • Avoid applying too much pressure, and feel the screw movement and the joints inside.
  • Check the quality of the screw as well as the lock. A rusty or dirty lock or the key will make the picking process troublesome.
  • Do not add oil to the lock like other picking processes. Doing so will cause your screw to become slippery and unable to lock in place.
  • Keep the screw in a safe place separate from the others to ensure it is kept from environment agents and can be used in the future.
  • Get help from neighbors or people you trust, like a locksmith, in case of an emergency. Trying to pick a lock in panic will only make you hasty and ruin it since this is a patient task.


I know there are lots of articles and youtube channels on barrel lock content by promoting specialized tools. But in today’s article, I not only save you money but also help you know how to distinguish it, how it works, and especially how to make a barrel lock key with items available in your own house. Since this type of lock involves electrical equipment, and the screws are also conductive metal rods, I hope you will be alert and take appropriate safety measures.

However, the long-term application of this homemade barrel lock key can affect the quality and structure of the lock. Nonetheless, I see we do not affect these items very often, so it should be fine. Keep practicing, and you will be able to open it easily. If you’d like any further information on this technique or any other instructional materials, contact us through our email or leave your comments in the box below.

5/5 - (3 votes)