Hiring a locksmith to remove a broken key can cost hundreds of dollars. If there is a broken key in the lock of your car or house, you can try to remove it yourself before calling a professional. This can usually be done in minutes. You may be surprised at how easy it is to do.
Method 1 of 2: Hook the Key with a Puller
Step 1. Lubricate the lock with a special spray
Place the straw on the spray can nozzle. Press the other side of the straw into the opening of the lock.
- Choose a silicone spray. A silicone lubricant will help the key slide out easily and, as it is water resistant, will protect the lock from rust.
- You can also try graphite powder. It can help lubricate the lock without locking it.
Step 2. Align the cylinder
The cylinder must be in a locked or unlocked position in order to extract the key piece from the door. If you try to remove a key while it can still turn freely, it will get stuck in the lock.
Use stork-nose pliers to reach inside the cylinder. Rotate the cylinder until the door locks or unlocks
Step 3. Insert the broken handle of the wrench to act as a guide
Slide the handle portion of the key into the lock until it reaches the broken piece. Try to see where the large groove on the side of the key is. This is the best place you can insert the extractor.
Step 4. Choose the extractor
This type of tools are generally sold in a set with a variety of different key and spiral hooks. You can buy them online or at any hardware store. The hooks look like miniature harpoons, with long, thin rods and can have various shapes at the end. The spiral pullers are thin, collapsible metal rods with small hooks along the entire length. While any of the tools may work for a variety of key types, you may need to try a few before you find the one that works best for your specific problem.
Start with the small hook. The small hook on the pullers can grab most keys of all shapes and types
Step 5. Slide the puller into the lock
The hook must face up to easily engage the teeth of the wrench. Orient the tool so that it slides along the groove on the side of the key.
Step 6. Turn the extractor and pull
Once the extractor is in the lock, rotate it slightly towards the key. Then pull it back while pressing the end of the handle away from the lock. This will push the hook against the key and slide it out of the lock. Continue until the puller hook catches one of the teeth and you are able to pull the key piece out.
- If you are using a spiral puller, the process does not change. However, instead of twisting it slightly, you will need to spin the handle several times before pulling out the extractor to remove the key fragment.
- You can try to use an additional extractor at the same time on the other side of the key. Insert the key in the same way, pull the tools back with a light pressure in the opposite direction to facilitate the grip of the key between them.
- If the key comes out partially, use a pair of stork-nose pliers to grasp the exposed part and complete the removal. Make sure you don't push it back into the lock.
Method 2 of 2: Create a Sawtooth Extractor
Step 1. Break off one end of a bow saw
Bow saws are made of a thin, brittle metal and break easily when bent. Breaking off one end will allow the blade to slide into the lock.
- Check the angle of the saw teeth. Break off the end of the blade whose teeth are skewed.
- If you don't have a bow saw handy you can try other items you can find around the house. You can try anything that is long, thin, stiff and cylindrical. For example, you can try a barbecue skewer or bicycle wheel spokes if you have any. However, note that these methods often do not solve the problem, especially if the key is stuck deep in the lock.
Step 2. Cover the other end of the blade with masking tape
Wrap several inches of the unbroken end with several layers of masking tape. If the blade teeth still get into the duct tape, add another layer or two.
Step 3. Rinse the lock with a lubricating spray
Use the straw and coat the barrel with a coating of silicone lubricant spray. Remove any excess spray that comes out of the lock cylinder.
Step 4. Slide the bow saw blade into the cylinder next to the key
Insert the broken end of the saw blade into the lock barrel with the teeth facing up. Move the end of the handle until the blade tightens next to the key.
If you are trying to remove a car key with teeth on both sides, you can slide the saw blade with the teeth in one direction or the other. If you can't grab one side of the key, turn the blade to the other side and try again
Step 5. Turn the side of the blade with the tape and pull
Rotate the blade about a quarter of a turn towards the key, then pull it out and rotate slightly towards the opposite side of the lock. Repeat this process until the blade successfully grasps the key.
If the key only comes out partially, grab the exposed end with a pair of stork-nose pliers and pull it out completely
- Don't use graphite on a worn out padlock; graphite is used only for new metal parts.
- Don't use super glue to try to reattach the various key pieces together in the lock. If the glue accidentally gets into the latch, you could ruin the lock.