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3 Easy Strategies for Removing a Broken Key

July 31, 2020


Broken key in front of a lock

It’s a key you use every day in the same lock. Whether you’re unlocking the door to your home, your car, or your office, you’re so used to it that you don’t even think about it. Until the day the lock sticks, and you have to wiggle the key a bit to get it to turn…and SNAP! The key breaks off in the lock. Now you’re stuck outside in the heat of the summer or a freezing winter day.

Don’t panic. There are solutions to this problem. Take a deep breath, relax, and try one of these 3 easy strategies for how to remove a broken key.

But First, What Not To Do

Before you can try any of these strategies to exhume the broken piece of your key, you need to know what not to do.

  • Do not continue to use the remainder of your key. This will push the broken piece farther into the lock, making it even harder to get it out. 
  • Do not throw away the remainder of your key. You will need this in order for your locksmith to make you a new key. 
  • Do not use gum. Just trust us on this one. You’d be surprised how often this happens. 

Strategies For Removing the Broken Key

If you happen to have spray graphite or WD-40, it can help to spray that into the keyhole before you attempt to remove the broken piece of the key. Chances are the lock was already in need of lubrication, which is probably why the key was having trouble turning in the first place.

  1. Tweezers. If you have tweezers, these can be one of the most effective tools to remove a broken key. Tweezers are most effective if part of the broken key is protruding from the keyhole. If the key is not protruding but is very close to the opening of the keyhole, you may be able to get the prongs of the tweezers around either side of it and pull. The biggest risk with tweezers is that you could accidentally push the key further into the hole, making the situation worse. The thinner the prongs the better the chances that you’ll be able to get them around the broken piece of the key. The ones that come in a swiss army knife are often ideal. 
    • You may also be able to grasp the key with needle-nose pliers if it is sticking out from or close enough to the opening of the keyhole. But again, if not used properly you could simply push the key further in so that it is even harder to reach.
  2. Jigsaw Blade. If you happen to have a small jigsaw blade, you can make a tool to extract your key. A small hacksaw blade may also work for this strategy. Ideally, the blade needs to be thin enough to slide into the keyhole alongside the broken key. You’ll have to break or cut off a small piece of the blade and insert it on the ridged side of the broken key. The hope is that the serrated saw blade will hook the key and pull it out. 
    • It may take several attempts, but this method may be one of the most successful of the strategies. Be very careful and cautious with this method to avoid cutting yourself with the saw blade while you are attempting to break it off and while you are using it. 
  3. Super Glue. This strategy can be very successful if it works, but can ruin your lock if you’re not careful. Only try this in an emergency situation where getting the key out and getting through the door is important enough to risk the lock. This strategy should also only be used if the broken key is close to the opening of the keyhole or protruding out from it. This may also ruin your key so that it can’t be duplicated.
    • Get an item like a matchstick or a toothpick and apply a tiny dab of superglue to it. Hold the item with the glue against the broken piece of key (touching only the key if possible) until the glue sets. Then pull and the broken piece of the key should come right out.

Your Safest Strategy: Call a Professional Locksmith 

Not sure how to remove a broken key? The best way to have it removed effectively without ruining your lock is to call a locksmith in Austin. Texas Premier Locksmith has special tools, such as a key extractor, for just this purpose. We can extract the broken piece of key, preserve the integrity of your lock, and duplicate your key from the broken pieces leftover. 
Call (866) 948-8188 or request service immediately if you have a key that has broken off inside the lock. Texas Premier Locksmith specializes in broken key retrieval.