Broken Key Extraction Process

Being locked out because of a broken key creates a very upsetting situation. However, you may not realise just how frequently this happens.

Over time, the metal on your key will likely wear out. Combining it with high forces will cause your key to break.  

Although extracting a broken key can be done quickly, it is better to stay away from your lock if you do not know how to do it.

There is a chance that you might cause more damage if you try and remove it yourself.

Most importantly, do not try to reinsert your key into the lock. If you reinsert the key, you will push the broken part deeper into the lock and make the situation more complicated. 

The best option you have is leaving your broken key problem with a professional locksmith, such as us. An experienced professional will know precisely what tools to use at any given time.

Here we explain the common process we use to extract our clients’ broken keys.

Tools Needed

First, you must help the locksmith gain entry to the building to access the lock with the broken key.

Once we have access to the lock, we may apply some lubricant to the keyhole. We mostly use dry lubricant as it will not leave any residue on the lock, making it the best option to choose.

Certain lubricants such as WD-40 are not the best to use in these cases. These lubricants can become sticky and cause clogging in your lock which can cause issues later.

Before choosing the tool to begin the extraction, we analyse how deep the broken key is stuck in the lock. Depending on how deep it is, we will use the following tools:

Broken key extractor

The name of this tool reflects its function quite clearly: to extract the broken key.

It usually comes in a set of several types of extractors such as a spiral extractor, saw-tooth extractor, hook extractor, and more. An experienced locksmith will know which one is the most suitable to use based on each case.

First, we will insert the extractor into the keyway. Then, we make the teeth on the extractor hook the broken part of the key that is stuck inside. Once the teeth are caught on the biting of the key, we pull it gently to release the key.


A thin and sharp-pointed head tweezer can be used if the broken part of your key is not too deep in the lock. Unfortunately, many tweezers are too thick and can push the broken parts further into the lock.

The lubricant can also make the surface slippery and hamper the tweezers from doing its job.

So, even though it appears to be an easy process and is possible to do by yourself, keep in mind to only try this method when you are confident about the tweezers that you have. 


You are lucky if the rest of the broken key is protruding from the lock because it is the easiest case to solve. You might do it by yourself by pulling the protruding part using needle-nose pliers.

Be gentle when you perform this operation because if you apply too much force, there is a chance you will break the key into smaller pieces.

Final thoughts

Unless your key is protruding from the lock and can be easily pulled out, it can be a very tricky job to remove a broken key. It is therefore recommended to call in the experts to safely remove it.

Furthermore, a talented locksmith can then proceed to cut a new key from the lock itself. This is great it you don’t have a spare key and prevents you from replacing the lock itself. Just another reason to have an expert there in your time of need.

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