Locks are like gatekeepers, safeguarding our spaces and possessions. However, there are moments when these guardians become formidable barriers, prompting us to consider drilling a lock as the ultimate solution. Whether it's a lost key or an urgent need for access, the decision to drill should be accompanied by careful considerations. In this guide, we delve into a series of essential steps that pave the way for informed choices, ensuring that drilling becomes a last resort rather than an impulsive action. This article has also been created to serve as an educational resource for locksmiths and individuals who are considering the selection of residential locksmith services.

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6 Things You Must Do to Drill Open a Lock

Unlocking the secrets of locks demands strategic thinking. When drilling a locking surface as the solution, strategic steps pave the path. From picking to precautions, these six steps illuminate the route to lock liberation.


It is an age-old skill that has been portrayed in movies and TV shows as a magical art. However, it's a skill that can be learned and applied by anyone facing a locked door. Instead of resorting to drilling right away, consider investing time in learning basic lock-picking techniques. Numerous online resources provide step-by-step guides, and you can even purchase beginner lock-picking kits. With patience and practice, you might find that you're able to manipulate the lock's components and unlock it without causing any damage.

Bumping the Lock

Bumping a lock is a technique that involves using a specially designed bump key to open a lock. It's a method that requires finesse and a certain level of skill, but it's often less invasive than drilling. The concept involves inserting the bump key into the lock, applying slight pressure, and then tapping the key. The force from the tap can sometimes jostle the lock's pins into alignment, allowing the lock to turn. While it might take some practice to master, it's worth considering before you reach for the power tools.

Find an Alternative Entry Into the House

Before you embark on the path of drilling, take a moment to assess your surroundings. Are there alternative entry points into the house that you might have overlooked? Perhaps a window is slightly open, or a back door is unlocked. Exploring these options can not only save you the trouble of drilling but also prevent potential damage to the lock and door. Keep in mind that preserving the integrity of the lock and the door should always be a priority.

Require Customer Consent for Drilling

If you find yourself in a situation where you're dealing with someone else's property, such as a rental property or a friend's house, it's imperative to obtain proper consent before drilling. Whether you're a DIY enthusiast attempting to tackle the issue or a professional locksmith, drilling someone else's lock without their permission can lead to legal consequences. Always ensure you have explicit approval from the owner before you proceed.

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Ensure a Spare Lock is Prepared

Before you even consider drilling, it's essential to have a replacement lock prepared. This step becomes particularly crucial if you're not a seasoned locksmith. After all, you wouldn't want to end up with a gaping hole where a lock used to be. Having a replacement lock on hand ensures that once you successfully drill through a lock, you can promptly secure the area and restore the safety of the space. Remember, preparation can significantly minimize the impact of the drilling process.

Start Drilling the Lock

If all other avenues have been exhausted and drilling is your last resort, approach the task methodically. Start by choosing a high-quality drill and selecting the appropriate drill bits based on the type of lock you're dealing with. Ensure that you have a clear line of sight and ample lighting to avoid mistakes. Apply steady pressure and start drilling at a low speed. As you progress, increase the speed while maintaining control. Listen for subtle cues, such as changes in sound, which might indicate that you're making progress. Once you hear the satisfying 'click,' it's a sign that you've breached the lock's mechanism.

How to Drill a Cylinder Lock

You may be wondering how to drill a lock open. Before proceeding with drilling, grasp these imperative steps. Your toolkit, technique, and mindset play pivotal roles in this high-stakes operation. This guide equips you with the essential pre-drilling rituals to ensure a seamless experience. Remember, thoughtful groundwork can be the difference between frustration and success.

  • Gather the Right Tools: Having the right tools is key. You'll need a good-quality drill, the appropriate lock drill bit, safety goggles, and a steady hand. Don't compromise on the quality of tools; this is not the time to cut corners.
  • Safety First: Remember, safety is paramount. Wear your safety goggles throughout the process to protect your eyes from debris. Also, work in a well-ventilated area, as drilling can create fine particles that you don't want to inhale.
  • Know the Lock: Understand the anatomy of the lock. Study how it functions, where the pins are, and how they interact. This knowledge will help you approach the drilling process more strategically.
  • Lubrication is Key: Before you start drilling, apply lubricant to the lock. This reduces friction and helps prevent damage to the drill bits. Give the lubricant some time to work its magic before you proceed.
  • Start Small: Begin drilling with a small bit. Gradually increase the size if necessary. This controlled approach prevents the drill bit from getting stuck and causing unnecessary complications.
  • Go Slow and Steady: Maintain a slow and steady pace while drilling. Avoid excessive force, as it can break the drill bit or damage the lock further. Patience is your greatest asset here.
  • Be Prepared for Resistance: As you drill, you might encounter resistance when the drill bit hits the pins. This is normal. Ease up on the pressure, and with a little extra patience, you'll overcome this hurdle.
  • Stop and Check: Once you've drilled through, stop and assess the situation. You should feel a subtle change in resistance. This indicates that you've successfully penetrated the pins.
  • Remove the Cylinder: Carefully remove the cylinder from the lock housing. This step might require some jiggling, so be patient. Once removed, you can access the mechanism and either fix the issue or replace the lock.

DIY vs. Professional Locksmith Lock Drilling

When facing a locked barrier, two paths emerge, self-reliance and professional expertise. The choice between attempting the task on your own or seeking a locksmith's lockout assistance hinges on various factors. This comparison navigates through the advantages and drawbacks of both options, shedding light on the optimal route to unlock success.

Pros of DIY Lock Drilling

  • Cost Savings: One of the most apparent benefits of DIY lock drilling is the potential cost savings. Hiring a professional locksmith can incur significant costs, which might be avoided by attempting the task yourself.
  • Empowerment: Successfully opening a lock through DIY efforts can be incredibly empowering. It's a tangible representation of your problem-solving skills and resourcefulness.
  • Immediate Action: DIY drilling allows you to take immediate action, especially in urgent situations. You don't have to wait for a locksmith to arrive, which can be a lifesaver during lockout emergencies.

Cons of DIY Lock Drilling

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  • Lack of Expertise: Locksmithing is a specialized skill that professionals spend years honing. Without proper training and experience, you might inadvertently cause more harm than good. Damaging the lock or door can result in higher repair costs than if you had hired a locksmith from the start.
  • Time-Consuming: DIY lock drilling can be time-consuming, particularly if you're new to the process. The trial-and-error nature of the task can lead to frustration and wasted time.

Pros of Professional Lock Drilling

  • Expertise: Professional locksmiths are trained to handle a wide range of locks and situations. They possess the knowledge and experience to assess the lock, choose the right tools, and execute the drilling process efficiently.
  • Quick Resolution: Locksmiths are equipped with the tools and techniques to swiftly resolve lock-related issues. They can open the lock without causing unnecessary damage and can often do so within a short timeframe.
  • Preventive Insights: A professional locksmith not only opens the lock but can also provide insights into improving the security of your property. They can recommend better-locking mechanisms and offer guidance on maintaining the integrity of your doors and locks.
  • Emergency Service: Most locksmith services are available 24/7. You can have peace of mind, knowing you can have professional assistance any time of the day.

Cons of Professional Lock Drilling

  • Cost: Hiring a professional locksmith comes with a cost, and the expense might be higher compared to a DIY approach. However, it's essential to consider the potential costs of DIY mistakes and the need for subsequent repairs.
  • Availability: Locksmiths might not be available in certain areas. This can be a challenge if you find yourself locked out in remote locations.

As the puzzle of locks often demands unconventional solutions, drilling emerges as a last-resort strategy. Patiently exploring alternatives, securing permissions, and equipping oneself with essentials are crucial. Whether opting for DIY satisfaction or enlisting professional finesse, the priority remains to safeguard the sanctity of the property. Remember, each step taken, from considering options to drilling, shapes the journey toward a successful resolution, preserving both security and peace of mind.

Don't compromise on your security. When you find yourself in need of lock-related services, remember that USA Lock & Key is your dedicated residential locksmith Las Vegas service. With our expertise and commitment to excellence, you can trust us to handle all your lock and key needs with precision and care. Call us now at (725) 256-5669.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it legal to drill a lock?

Lock drilling itself is not illegal, but it's crucial to have the appropriate authorization when dealing with locks that don't belong to you.

Can any lock be drilled?

Different locks require different drilling techniques. It's essential to be familiar with the type of lock you're dealing with to avoid unnecessary damage.

How much does a locksmith charge for lock drilling?

Locksmith charges vary based on factors like location, time, and the complexity of the job. It's advisable to request a quote beforehand.

Can a drilled lock be repaired?

In many cases, yes. However, it's often more cost-effective to replace the lock to ensure the security of the property.

Is lock bumping legal?

Lock bumping tools can be deemed illegal in some jurisdictions due to their potential for misuse. Always research and comply with local laws and regulations.