When part of a key is stuck in the lock, it can be difficult to get it out without a professional. Using spray lubricant like WD-40 helps a lot, and a simple paperclip can be used to grip the piece and leverage it out.
This is why most locksmiths have a specialized set of tools to deal with broken keys. Add this to your own toolbox for emergencies.
Ultra-Thin Broken Key Extraction
A key extractor tool is designed to pull out keys that have become stuck inside a lock. They are available in various sizes and shapes to fit a variety of locks. To use one, insert the spike end into the lock and wiggle it around to grip the key and take it out.
A hook key extractor is another option. This type of extractor is ideal for removing keys from a locked cabinet because it has a thin, sharp hook that can grab onto the key and pull it out.
A lubrication spray can also help to free a broken key. It works quickly to dissolve rust and move dirt particles, which may be the cause of a key that is stuck in a lock. It can be used in the same way as graphite powder, but it is faster and may reach places where powder cannot. There is also a special key extractor set that includes two hooked key extractors that can be used to remove keys from a lock without the need for a drill or other tools.
Professional Key Extractor Tool
In the world of professional or hobbyist lockpicking, a broken key or any other foreign object trapped inside the lock can be quite frustrating to deal with. If you’re looking to save yourself the cost of calling a locksmith for this type of service, consider getting a key extractor tool. These tools look like miniature harpoons, and they come in different shapes, sizes, and types. Some are hook-shaped, while others feature spiral groves that grip a key when inserted between the plug and key.
Use the key extractor to push any pins up as high as they’ll go so you can get the broken piece out safely. Be careful not to yank on the key, as this can cause further damage and make the problem even worse. Also, don’t forget to lubricate the lock before inserting your extractor. This will help the tool slide in and hook the broken portion of the key. Then, slowly begin twisting the extractor to remove it.
If you don’t have a lock picking tool handy, or just prefer not to risk using one, you can try using a paperclip. Paperclips are genuinely useful little gadgets and can work pretty well to grip the broken part of a key (though thinner paperclips tend to be better at this).
All you need to do is bend one end slightly away from the other to create a hook-like shape. Once you do that, you can slide it into the lock and jiggle around to help break free any binds holding your key.
The design of the paperclip has evolved over time, with various shapes and sizes being made from different types of wire. It’s even become a symbol of inventive design, with a 23 ft (7 m) high statue of the Gem-type paperclip in Norway celebrating its invention in 1899. This is despite the fact that other devices were invented before it and that there was no patent for this device at the time.
If you don’t have a professional key extractor tool (like a Peterson hooked or saw-tooth extractor) you can still try to dig something sharp into the broken piece of the key and gain leverage to pull it out. You’ll need some super glue and a long, thin piece of wire or matchstick (a straightened bobby pin or paperclip will work as well).
Hacksaw blades come in several types with varying degrees of flexibility and durability to meet the specific needs of each application. Very thick and hard materials require a more durable metal like steel or high speed steel, while soft workpieces such as aluminum need a finer metal that is flexible and easy to cut.
For this particular application, a small hacksaw or jigsaw blade works great. Look for a blade that is thin enough to fit inside the lock with the broken part of your key, and make sure that the serrations on the top of the blade are angled back toward you so they can hook onto the broken piece of the key.