Categories How-To Guides

How To Drill A Lock

Locks are vital to our daily lives, ensuring our belongings remain safe and secure. You may have lost or forgotten your keys inside, and you need to gain access quickly.

How To Drill A Lock? It’s not recommended to drill a lock as it can damage the lock. However, if necessary, use a drill with a high-speed steel bit and drill in the centre of the lock cylinder until it breaks, then turn the lock.

Knowing how to drill a lock can be handy in such situations. While it’s not a recommended practice, this technique can save you from frustration and provide a quick fix. This blog post will discuss how to drill a lock and what to remember.

Types of Locks

Before delving into the details of how to drill a lock, it’s essential to understand the different types of locks that exist.

Do check: How To Drill A Hole In Wood

Pin tumbler locks

Pin tumbler locks are the most common types used in various applications, from residential and commercial buildings to automobiles and safes. These locks operate by using a set of pins that sit within a cylinder.

The pins are of different lengths, and when the correct key is inserted, the pins are pushed into the correct position, allowing the cylinder to rotate and the lock to open.

When drilling a pin tumbler lock, it’s important to know the precise location of the pins within the cylinder. It’s also essential to use a lubricant to help reduce friction and heat buildup while drilling.

Tubular locks

Tubular locks are often used in high-security applications, such as on vending machines, bike locks, and even some automobiles. These locks are round and require a unique tubular key for operation. They have a series of pins arranged in a circular pattern, and the key has corresponding cuts that allow the pins to be pushed to the correct height, unlocking the lock.

When drilling a tubular lock, it’s important to use a specialized drill bit that’s designed to cut through the pins without damaging the lock body. These drill bits have a cylindrical shape that matches the shape of the lock and a series of teeth that cut through the pins one at a time.

Mortise locks

Mortise locks are commonly used in residential and commercial doors and are known for their durability and strength. These locks are rectangular and installed within a pocket or mortise within the door. They have a series of pins that operate similarly to pin tumbler locks, but they also have a bolt that extends into the door frame, making them more secure.

When drilling a mortise lock, it’s important to use a drill bit the same size as the lock cylinder. It’s also important to drill in the centre of the lock to avoid damaging the lock body or the door. Finally, using a lubricant to reduce friction and heat buildup while drilling is important.

Combination locks

Combination locks are mechanical locks that use a sequence of numbers or letters to unlock the device. These locks are often used on safes, lockers, and other high-security applications.

Combination locks are typically more difficult to drill than other types of locks because they need a keyway or a visible mechanism that can be easily drilled.

Tools and Materials

Tools and Materials

Before attempting to drill a lock, you must understand the necessary tools and materials. Having the right equipment on hand will make the process easier and help you avoid any damage or injury.

Also, check: How Much To Core Drill A Hole.

Choosing the right drill

When selecting a drill, consider its power, speed, and accuracy. Ideally, you’ll want a drill with variable speed control and a depth stop, allowing you to control the drill’s depth and prevent you from drilling too far. A cordless drill with a high torque setting is also useful, providing enough power to drill through tough locks.

Proper drill bits

The type of drill bit you choose will depend on the lock you’re working with. A standard HSS (High-Speed Steel) drill bit will suffice for most locks. However, if you’re dealing with a hardened or reinforced lock, you’ll need a cobalt or carbide drill bit. Choosing a drill bit the same size as the lock’s pins is also essential, as this will allow you to drill through them without damaging the lock’s housing.


Lubrication is crucial when drilling a lock, as it helps reduce friction and heat buildup, which can damage the drill bit or lock. You can use a general-purpose oil, such as WD-40, or a specialized lock lubricant to keep the drill bit and lock cool and lubricated.

Protective equipment

Drilling a lock can be dangerous, so wearing protective equipment, including safety goggles, gloves, and a dust mask, is crucial. Safety goggles protect your eyes from flying debris, while gloves protect your hands from the drill’s heat and the lock’s sharp edges. A dust mask will protect your lungs from inhaling any dust or debris.

Additional tools for lock removal

In addition to a drill and drill bits, you may also need other tools to remove the lock once it’s been drilled. A screwdriver, pliers, and a pry bar can all be useful in removing the lock’s components. Having a replacement lock on hand is also helpful, as drilling a lock will render it unusable.

How To Drill A Lock (7 Easy Steps)

Drilling a lock can seem daunting, but it can be a relatively simple process with the right tools and techniques. Whether you’ve lost your key or need to access a locked room or cabinet, drilling a lock can be an effective solution.

Assess the situation and determine if drilling is necessary

Before you start drilling, assessing the situation and determining if drilling is necessary is important. If you have other means of accessing the lock, such as a spare key or a locksmith, it’s best to explore those options first.

Choose the appropriate drilling point

Once you’ve determined that drilling is necessary, you’ll need to choose the appropriate drilling point. Look for the point on the lock that will cause the least damage and allow you to access the internal mechanism. This will typically be near the centre of the lock but can vary depending on the type of lock you’re working with.

Apply lubricant to the drill bit

Before you start drilling, applying lubricant to the drill bit is important. This will help reduce friction and prevent the bit from overheating, which can cause it to become damaged or even break. Apply a small amount of lubricant to the drill bit’s tip and wipe off any excess.

Start drilling slowly and with steady pressure

Once you’ve chosen the appropriate drilling point and applied lubricant to the drill bit, it’s time to start drilling. Begin by drilling slowly and with steady pressure, careful not to apply too much force. Maintaining a steady hand and avoiding wobbling the drill is important, as this can cause the bit to break or damage the lock further.

Clear debris and maintain proper lubrication

As you drill, it’s important to periodically clear away debris and maintain proper lubrication. This will help keep the drill bit cool and prevent it from becoming clogged with debris. Use a brush or compressed air to remove debris and reapply lubricant.

Monitor progress and adjust technique as needed

As you drill, monitoring your progress and adjusting your technique as needed is important. Pay attention to the sound and feel of the drill and adjust the pressure and speed accordingly. Be patient and take breaks to prevent the drill bit from overheating.

Remove the lock cylinder or core

Once you’ve successfully drilled through the lock, it’s time to remove the lock cylinder or core. This will typically involve using a screwdriver or other tool to turn the lock mechanism and remove it from the lock. Be careful not to damage the lock further as you remove the cylinder or core.

Alternative Methods

Alternative Methods

While the first course of action would be to call a professional locksmith, there are times when you may not have access to one or want to try your hand at unlocking the door yourself.

Lock Picking Techniques

Lock picking is a popular method of accessing a locked door without a key. This method involves manipulating the lock’s pins or tumblers to allow the lock to turn. Different lock-picking tools are available, including lock picks, rakes, and tension wrenches.

However, lock picking requires significant skill and practice, and it is not recommended for beginners. It is also important to note that lock picking is illegal in some states, so it’s best to check the laws in your area before attempting this method.

Lock Bumping

Lock bumping is another method that can be used to open a lock without a key. This technique involves using a special key, called a bump key, to bounce the pins in the lock and release the cylinder. This method is faster than lock picking and requires less skill, but it is also illegal in some areas.


Impressioning is a method that involves creating a key by making a mould of the lock. This method requires a blank key and a file, and it involves inserting the blank key into the lock and moving it back and forth to create marks on the key.

The marks are then filed down until the key can turn the lock. This method requires significant skill and patience, but it can be a useful alternative to drilling a lock.

Contacting a Professional Locksmith

If all else fails, it’s best to contact a professional locksmith. Locksmiths have the experience and expertise to open locks without damaging them, and they can also repair or replace the lock if necessary. When contacting a locksmith, choosing a reputable and licensed locksmith is important to ensure that the job is done correctly and safely. When all other methods have failed, drilling a lock should be the last resort.


Drilling a lock should only be done as a last resort, and it’s important to understand the legal consequences. Use a carbide or cobalt bit drill at a 45-degree angle, aiming for the pins inside the lock cylinder. Once the pins break, the lock should turn.

Lock drilling is a technique used to gain access to a locked space or property, but it should only be used as a last resort when all other methods have failed. The importance of proper technique and safety cannot be overstated when attempting to drill a lock.

Therefore, it is crucial to understand when to use lock drilling, how to use the proper technique, and to take necessary safety precautions.


Will drilling through a lock open it?

Drilling through a lock is a common method of bypassing the lock when the key is lost or when a locksmith is called upon to gain entry. However, not all locks can be opened by drilling. The effectiveness of drilling depends on the type of lock and the drilling technique used. 

Drilling works well on basic pin-tumbler locks, but it may not work on more advanced locks with hardened steel components or anti-drill features. Drilling a lock can damage it beyond repair, so it should only be done as a last resort.

How do you drill a hole in a lock?

You will need a drill, a drill bit, and safety goggles to drill a hole in a lock. First, insert the drill bit into the drill and tighten it securely. Position the drill bit in the centre of the lock cylinder and apply steady pressure while drilling. Use a low-speed setting to prevent overheating and damage to the lock. 

Once the drill bit penetrates the lock, increase the speed to create a hole large enough to insert a screwdriver or other tool to turn the locking mechanism. It’s important to note that drilling a lock is a delicate process and requires precision to avoid damaging the lock beyond repair.

Can you drill any locks?

Drilling can bypass most locks, but not all can be drilled. Some locks are designed to resist drilling, such as those with hardened steel components or anti-drill features. These locks are typically found in high-security environments like banks, government facilities, and data centres. 

It’s also important to note that drilling a lock without permission is illegal, as it is considered breaking and entering. It is always best to consult a professional locksmith before drilling a lock.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *