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How to Open a File Cabinet With a Broken Lock Easily Without Much Damage

Fact checked by Teddy B.Miller

how to open a file cabinet with a broken lock

It is essential to keep your file cabinet closed and secured to stop unauthorized access from others. But what if you are short on time and the cabinet lock is broken? That is why you should know how to open a file cabinet with a broken lock.

Because this type of drawer is used to store important files and documents, you may have to break into it no matter what. Fortunately, you can open a jammed filing cabinet quite easily on your own with the appropriate guide and instructions.

We feel the need to warn you beforehand about damaging the file cabinet since it is the only way to access your belongings inside with a broken cabinet lock. Learn to unlock your jammed file cabinet within a few minutes right here in this article.

What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial


What is the best thing you can do in order to break into a filing cabinet while its lock is broken? Apparently, it is unavoidable to tear it down, or else it would be impossible to access its inner items. Here are our recommended resolutions for this situation:

Step by Step Instructions


In this section, we will provide several useful ways for you to successfully open a locked filing cabinet with great convenience and low costs. They only take a few simple steps to complete and open your jammed file cabinet in an effective way.

1. Drill the lock


Drilling out a lock on a file cabinet would be the wisest option to proceed with in this case. To follow this method, you’ll need:

  • A ⅛ inch drill bit
  • A drill
  • A water bottle with a spray nozzle
  • A screwdriver

Follow these steps to complete the process of removing a broken lock from your document drawer:

Step 1:

  • Take a drill bit of 1/8 inch and put it into the hand drill.
  • Position the drill bit’s tip on the keyhole center on your cabinet lock.

Step 2:

  • Drill a hole through your lock.
  • If you see the drill bit beginning to smoke, keep it cool by taking a water bottle & spray it with some water. Most file cabinet lock types are built from fairly soft metal, so it will be easy to burn the bit.

Step 3:

  • Take a screwdriver and put its blade inside the hole.
  • Turn your cabinet lock counter-clockwise.
  • If your lock turns, it means you can open the file cabinet. On the other hand, if it does not, you might want to up the drill bit size, then repeat step 2 and this one until your lock turns.

Check out this video for more information to get into a locked file cabinet with a broken lock: How to drill out a file cabinet lock.

2. Consult the manufacturer


One of the most reliable sources for you to address your jammed file cabinet problem and ask for support is the cabinet manufacturer.

But keep in mind that this method takes time. There is a chance that you might not receive the necessary information and guidance to unlock the cabinet quickly enough. Thus, we only recommend this solution if you are not short on time.

3. Hire a locksmith


If you find it too difficult to drill out a file cabinet lock on your own and fear that you may have to throw the entire drawer away after the process, we would suggest you call a professional locksmith to get the job done with less hassle.

Because locksmiths own specialized tools to unlock & fix a file cabinet, you can rest assured that there will be no damages made to its surface. However, you should be prepared to pay a certain service fee in exchange for their help.

Popular Types of File Cabinet Locks

You might think that there’s only one single lock type for all file cabinets, but the truth is it comes in multiple different systems, and they all possess a risk of breakage. Take a look at some of the most popular ones on the current market:

  • Keyed cam locks
  • Keyless cabinet and combination locks
  • Chest or lid locks
  • Locks with tubular cylinders
  • Lock bars
  • Padlocks
  • Sliding and plunger locks

Despite the various types of locks available for a file cabinet, we believe that the methods presented below will help you deal with all of them if they are broken.


That was how you can break into a locked file cabinet by drilling with regular tools around the house. If you are still uncertain about how to open a file cabinet with a broken lock on your own, the ideal way is to reach out to the manufacturer or pay a locksmith to do the work.

What is your opinion on this article about unlocking a jammed file cabinet? Although it may look difficult, follow our guide and you will do alright. Don’t forget to share the article with friends and family via social media as well!

Thank you for reading.

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