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How to Open a Drawer Lock Without Key? – 2 Methods

Fact checked by Teddy B.Miller

how to open a drawer lock without key

Nothing ruins Monday morning more than a busy work office. Just the first day of the week, but everyone’s already moving—stressed out to top that!

Suddenly, your boss asks you to get a file he urgently needs in a drawer.

I mean, it’s such an easy task. But only to find out that you lost the key to that drawer and no one around has the duplicate.

But good thing you found this article! I will show you how to open a drawer lock without key in different methods to fit your situation.

Ways to Open a Drawer Lock Without Key


Of course, it’s almost impossible to open a lock without key in 5 seconds unless you’re a pro and have tons of experience breaking into a locked drawer.

But don’t worry because you can still do it in a minute if you have the right tools beside you and if you follow the method suited for you in this guide.

What to prepare

Here are the things to prepare to open filing cabinet without a key:

  • A couple of bobby pins or hairpins
  • Paperclips
  • Cutting tools (scissors or a cutter)
  • A nail clipper with curved filed

Method 1. Picking Method


Of course, let’s start with the most common—and, to say the least, convenient method to open a locked cabinet without a key. This method requires you to use a picking kit, which includes the raking or hook tool and a lever. These tools will act as a key and manipulate the drawer’s locking system.

However, if you are in an urgent situation and don’t have a picking kit, don’t fret. You can still pick a drawer lock using the usual stuff you’ll see in your office or house!

Pro tip: this method can be used to open wardrobe lock!

Step 1: Improvise a picking kit using your bobby pins or paperclips

As I mentioned, you can still pick a lock with a bobby pin or with a paperclip.

Tweak the bobby pin or paperclip until they function like a hook tool and a lever. Follow these steps to learn how to do it.


  • Using a bobby pin or a hairpin


To successfully break into the locked drawer with a hairpin or bobby pins, you first need to ensure the durability of your tool.

So make sure to get sturdy ones so they won’t break while trying to remove a file cabinet lock.

  1. Get a bobby pin. Make it thinner by removing the round tip of the straight end using any cutting tool.
  2. Pull apart both sides of the bobby pin to a 160-degree angle. Ensure the wavy end is slanted while the straight end is flat.
  3. On the straight end, bend its tip for about 1cm using your hand or the scissor. That will be your picking tool.
  4. Get another bobby pin, and angle an inch of the closed end to a 90-degree angle to make a tension lever.
  • Using a paperclip


Like in a bobby pin method, get a couple of sturdy paper clips to unlock a file cabinet.

  1. Get two paper clips and straighten them using your hand.
  2. If you have plastic-coated clips, peel them away to avoid residue from getting in your way.
  3. Take one straightened paper clip and make a hook tool by bending at least 1cm of its tip.
  4. Get the other straightened paper clip and bend it to a 90-degree angle to make a tension lever.

Step 2: Put the tension lever on


The most crucial part of this method is to keep in mind the pressure you’re putting on your tension lever.

Insert the improvised tension lever below the keyway, as low and as deep as possible, and position it like how you turn your key.

Hold the lever in this position for the whole process while ensuring that the tension in your lever is consistent.

Remember that tension is one of the core aspects of this method; less or too much pressure could lead to failure to unlock a file cabinet without a key.

Step 3: Pick the pins


Now that your tension lever is positioned in the keyway, you can start picking the lock with bobby pin or with a paperclip.

In this step, you must feel the pins’ reaction when being picked. If the pin is springy or non-resistant, set it aside and look for the resisting pin.

A resisting pin indicates that it is ready to be picked. So once found, you should push it upward to help it settle on the shear line while keeping in mind the tension in the lever.

Once a pin has been picked, the springy pin will become resistant, making it viable to be picked.

Turn the tension lever in a key-like motion to unlock it. If the lock reacts, you successfully unlock a file cabinet without a key.

Method 2. Using the nail clipper file.


Do you have a nail clipper in your pouch?

Great, because surprisingly, this method will help you open a locked desk drawer with nail clippers. Even a two-year-old could do it!

Make sure your nail chipper has a filing tool attached to it, and it must have a curved tip to make this method work.

Step 1. Insert the file at the bottom of the keyway


Keep in mind that you will use the filing tool like how you use the lost key.

So insert the nail clipper file at the bottom of the keyway and push it as far as it can go, just like how you insert a key.

Please make sure the hooked tip of the file faces upward so it can pick the pin.

Step 2. Put pressure onto your file and turn it like a key.

Before you start picking to open a locked wooden desk drawer, you must first figure out how to turn the file to unlock it. Move it clockwise and counter-clockwise to determine the right way.

You find the right way once the file slides in. Now, keep the pressure on that way. Remember that your nail clipper file acts as a tension lever and the picking tool.

Step 3. Rake or pick it open.

Using the nail clipper file tip, start feeling the key pins’ reaction. Like in the usual picking method, you must begin picking the resisting pins.

Push the resisting pin upward to make it settle onto the shear line, and keep the tension onto the file to push it up successfully.

After picking the resisting pin, you can start working on the other pins. Do it until the key pins are settled atop the shear line.

Another way to pick the key pins is by raking them until all are pushed upward. Slide the tip of the file back and forth onto the pins for 3 minutes.

Step 4. Turn the file to unlock

To successfully remove a desk lock without a key using this method, turn the file in the right direction (refer to Step 2) if you think the key pins are out of the way.

If it clicks, note that you have successfully picked your way into your locked drawer!

Why Do You Open a Drawer Lock Without a Key?

Lost key – Your memory often betrays you. Studies reveal that an average person loses up to nine items daily.

Losing a key is something almost all people around the world can relate to. So picking to open a locked wooden desk drawer is ordinary and even necessary sometimes.

Imagine you’re in an urgent situation wherein you badly need to retrieve the files inside your locked drawer, but you don’t have your key. Of course, you might need to do what would surely help you rather than looking for your key.



Can you open a drawer with a pop out lock?

Yes, you break into a drawer with a pop out lock even without a key! Choose from the mentioned methods above and follow the given steps.

Is it safe to open a drawer lock without key?

There’s always a risk that you should take in this kind of project. So, no, there’s a tendency that you would break a drawer lock if the steps are performed wrongly.

Can you open a drawer lock using a knife?

Opening a drawer lock with a knife is possible, but the success rate is less than 50%. Due to their natural characteristics, knives don’t offer precision and agility.


Most drawer locks are used as privacy locks rather than security locks. Following this guide on how to open a drawer lock without key, you can surely break your way into your needed file.

To top off, the mentioned methods and each corresponding step are helpful when you fall into another locked-out situation. Just remember to always use these attained skills for a good cause!

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