How to Drill Out a Lock Safely and Effectively

April 27, 2023

When it comes to lock picking, there are many methods available to open a locked door, but one of the most popular and effective methods is drilling out the lock. Drilling a lock is a great option when you have lost your key or when you need to gain access to a locked space quickly. However, drilling out a lock can be risky if you don't know what you are doing. In this article, we will discuss how to drill out a lock safely and effectively.

Step 1: Gather the Right Tools

To drill out a lock, you will need the right tools, which include a drill, drill bits, lubricant, and a screwdriver. A drill is the most useful tool for making a hole in the lock. You will also need drill bits that are capable of cutting through metal. Lubricant is essential, as it will help the drill bit to move smoothly through the metal. Finally, a screwdriver will be needed to remove the lock cylinder after drilling it out.

Step 2: Identify the Lock Type

Before drilling out the lock, it is essential to identify the lock type to determine the most suitable approach. There are two types of locks: cylinder and mortise locks. Cylinder locks are the most common, and they have a cylinder-shaped housing with pins inside. On the other hand, mortise locks are more complex, with bolts, springs, and latches.

Step 3: Select the Right Drill Bit

The next step is to select the right drill bit for the job. For most locks, a ΒΌ-inch drill bit is ideal. However, if the lock is more substantial or more robust, you may need a larger drill bit. It is essential to select the right size drill bit to avoid damaging the lock or the surrounding area.

Step 4: Drilling the Lock

Once you have gathered your tools and identified the lock type, it is time to drill out the lock. First, you need to lubricate the drill bit with a lubricant to make it easier to move through the metal. Next, you should drill a hole in the lock cylinder. Start drilling in the center of the cylinder and drill until you feel the drill bit cutting through the pins or bolts.

Step 5: Remove the Lock Cylinder

After drilling the hole in the lock cylinder, the next step is to remove the cylinder. Use a screwdriver to remove the retaining screw located on the faceplate of the lock. Once you remove the screw, the faceplate should come off quickly. You can now use the screwdriver to push the lock cylinder out of the housing.

Step 6: Replacing the Lock

Now that you have removed the lock cylinder, it's time to replace the lock. You can purchase a new lock cylinder or install a new lock entirely. If you opt to replace the lock cylinder, be sure to match it with the same type of lock cylinder. If you decide to install a new lock, you can follow the manufacturer's instructions to ensure that you install it correctly.

Safety Tips when Drilling Out a Lock

Drilling out a lock can be dangerous, so it is essential to take safety precautions to avoid accidents. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind.

Wear Protective Gear

Before you start drilling out the lock, you should wear safety gear such as safety glasses and gloves. Safety glasses will protect your eyes from flying metal chips, while gloves will protect your hands from sharp edges.

Use the Right Drill Bit

Always use the right drill bit for the job. Using the wrong size drill bit can cause damage to the lock, cylinder, or even the drill itself.

Work in a Well-Ventilated Area

When drilling out the lock, you will generate a lot of dust and metal chips. Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling these particles.

Don't Rush

Take your time when drilling out the lock. Rushing can lead to accidents or damage to the lock or cylinder. Remember, drilling out a lock requires patience and precision.

Keep Your Work Area Clean

After drilling out the lock, be sure to clean up the area to avoid accidents. Metal chips and other debris can be hazardous if left lying around.


Drilling out a lock is an effective method of gaining access to a locked space when you have lost your key or need to get in quickly. However, drilling out a lock can be dangerous if you do not know what you are doing. By following the steps outlined in this article and taking safety precautions, you can drill out a lock safely and effectively. Remember, patience and precision are key when drilling out a lock!



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I enjoy designing and curating experiences both virtually and in 3-dimensional reality. I have a Bachelor of Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology and currently practice professionally, but I also manage a few other ventures.
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