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How to Remove a Broken Key From a Lock in 3 Easy Steps

Fact checked by Teddy B.Miller

how to remove a broken key from a lock

Want to learn how to remove a broken key from a lock? First, apply a penetrating lubricant to the keyhole, especially if it’s old and jammed. Using a flathead screwdriver, turn the position of the cylinder into its original alignment. Once done, reach for the part of the broken key using a pair of needle-nose pliers.

A broken key does not only result in inconvenience but also anxiety. Instead of calling a locksmith, you can try to fix this problem on your own. Through this tutorial, you will learn how to get a broken key out of a lock.


What You Need


A key broke off in lock is easy to remove as long as you have the proper steps and the right tools. In this tutorial, there are specific items that you need before you can start. However, these items are easy to find. You can purchase them online or buy them at the nearest hardware store.

1. Penetrating lubricant

Applying a penetrating lubricant is necessary, especially if your lock is already rusty and jammed (Check out the guide how to fix a door lock that is jammed here). It is a good lubricant for a short time. You can use WD-40 as a penetrating lubricant. As much as possible, it must have a water displacing feature and be low in foam or non-foaming.

If you have no available penetrating lubricant, you can make a homemade one by combining vegetable oil with 10 percent acetone. However, you must get the right amount of mixtures to prevent any adverse effects.

2. Needle-nose pliers

Instead of using sophisticated tools, a pair of needle-nose pliers works for broken key extraction. An 8-inch needle-nose plier is the best tool when working with tight and narrow spaces like a keyhole. It can provide you with enough reach so that you can remove the key immediately.

If you want a tool that could serve you for a long time, choose a pair of needle-nose pliers constructed with nickel-chromium steel. A low-quality one could also not provide you with a good and tight grip.

3. Screwdriver (optional)

If the lock cylinder is in its original position (Learn more the guide how to remove door lock cylinder without key), a screwdriver is not necessary. However, if it is not aligned properly, you need to turn it using a flat head screwdriver. Like any other screwdriver, the sizes of flathead screwdrivers vary. For this tutorial, it must fit the keyhole.

You will need a flat head screwdriver that is about 10 inches long. It is enough to reach the lock cylinder and turn it vertically or horizontally. The longer the shaft of the flathead screwdriver is, the thinner it becomes. Also, look for a screwdriver that can provide you with a comfortable grip while you are doing the tutorial.

What to Do


Step 1: Apply a penetrating lubricant to the keyhole

Before removing the broken key out of the lock, you have to apply a penetrating lubricant inside the keyhole. It will help loosen the locking mechanism, especially if your lock is already jammed. You won’t also have difficulty pulling out the broken key if the keyhole has been lubricated.

Step 2: Turn the lock cylinder into its original position

Check if the position of the lock is in the vertical position. It must be aligned to help you remove the key. If not, you need to turn the cylinder of the lock vertically or horizontally. To do this, insert a flat head screwdriver and turn the lock slowly into the original position to make removing a broken key from a lock easier.

Step 3: Reach for the part of the broken key in the lock using a pair of needle-nose pliers

Once the lock is in the correct position, you can insert a pair of needle-nose pliers inside the keyhole. Slowly reach for the broken part of the key, taking care not to push it further. Grip its tip tightly and pull it out of the lock. After you have successfully removed the key, buy a new replacement key for future use.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any other tools that I can use to remove the broken key?

Aside from using needle-nose pliers, there are also other items that you can use to extract a broken key in lock. Some of these are lock extractor tools, super glue, or coping saw blades. If these are your available items, you can check other tutorials that would help you remove a broken key using these tools.

Can I glue the broken key with its other half and use it again?

Never do this since it may cause you the same problem of having a broken key stuck in your lock. Instead of gluing the damaged key, ask for a locksmith to make you a new replacement key that you can use, or you can also install a new lock, especially if it is already old and jammed.

How long will it take me to remove the broken key out of my lock?

For a professional locksmith, this would only take a few minutes. But if you are a beginner, this would take you longer. You may dedicate most of your time to getting the required items and performing every step successfully. If you failed on the first attempt, repeat the steps until you get the broken key out.

Can a locksmith make me a new key?

Yes, a locksmith can make you a replacement key for your lock. A professional locksmith can examine your broken key to create a new key. Also, he can apply a lock impression where a blank key is inserted into the lock to get the pattern of the broken key.

What are the reasons why keys break inside locks?

Some of the reasons keys break inside locks are the normal wear and tear condition of the key, especially if it is already old yet frequently used. Aside from that, too much force when turning the key can also break it. Another reason is that the lock itself is already jammed and malfunctioning.

How can I prevent my key from breaking inside the lock?

To prevent a key from breaking inside the lock, you must have proper maintenance for your lock by spraying a silicone-based lubricant into its keyhole every six months. It is also advisable that you replace your key periodically, especially if there are signs of wearing and tearing.


Did you find our tutorial on how to remove a broken key from a lock easy? A key broke in lock results in hassles and inconvenience. However, this tutorial will help you solve the problem without paying for a professional locksmith. You can enter your house by knowing the right tricks.

If you find this article helpful, you can share it with your friends who have trouble with their broken keys stuck inside their locks. We also want to know your suggestions on how you get a broken key out of a deadbolt quickly. Just leave a comment below.

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