A Broken Key Extraction in a lock is a major inconvenience. It can also be a security issue if it’s a car key in the ignition.
You can solve this problem yourself with a few simple tools. First, figure out how deeply the key fragment is lodged in the lock cylinder.
A key extractor is a lock pick-style tool with a hook at one end that looks like a straightened out fishing hook. Stick the tip of the extractor into the lock and push it down as far as it can go. Then twist the tool to try to hook a portion of the Broken Key Extraction and pull it up.
This tool works well in most standard locks that professional locksmiths use, so it’s a great choice for a DIY solution if you don’t want to purchase a more expensive option. However, if you plan to use this method a lot you may need to buy a set of these tools.
The small tips of this type of tool can grip in tight spaces more easily than standard tools. You can also use a small jigsaw blade in a pinch. Just rough up the edges to make it work more like a hook. You can even use a piece of thin metal like a paper clip if you have it handy.
If you’ve ever broken your key in a lock, or even jammed it inside of a doorknob, then you know how frustrating it can be to get it out. A professional set of pliers has a special tool designed specifically for this purpose, but you can also try to use your own tools.
One easy option is a paperclip, although you will want to make sure that it is thin enough to get a grip. Then slide it under the broken section of your key and leverage it out.
Another option is to use a hook extractor. These can be inserted into the lock along the first cut side and hooked into the end of the key to pull it out. They can take a little practice to master but once you have them down it is an efficient method.
It’s always a little alarming when you find your key is stuck in the lock, but fortunately there are a few ways to rescue it. One way is to use a paper clip with a sharp short hook bent at the end – this will work in a pinch as a spiral extractor!
Another useful tool is a set of small jigsaw blades. These have fine teeth that can pick up the key like the teeth on a professional extractor tool, though they may take a few attempts to catch.
There are a wide range of jigsaw blades available to suit many different types of materials. For example, some cut wood and others can cope with the temperature-sensitive plastics used in home & garden building materials. Some also have an abrasive edge to tackle nail-embedded wood which would damage general purpose wood-cutting blades. There are even blades for laminated materials which cut on the down stroke to minimise splintering.
A glue stick can be used to help get a broken key out of a lock when all else fails. Just heat it up so it melts, then slip it in the key hole and push gently. The glue stick should mold around the broken key and grip it firmly. Gently pull it out and it should come out of the lock with the glue stick in hand.
If the broken piece is close enough to the front of the lock, you can also use a paperclip. If you can’t find a smaller paperclip, try a nail file instead. If the break is on a rounded part of the key, you can try using a hook extractor. These are small fish hook-shaped flat metal bars that you shove into the space between the plug and the key. Turn it a bit to grip the broken piece and then slowly pull it out. It won’t always work, but it is one of the easiest methods to try if you don’t have a professional tool.