What to do When a Key Breaks Off in a Lock

If you have ever had the misfortune of breaking off a key in a lock, then you know how difficult it can be to remove it. For those that are currently in this situation (or worried you may end up in one), it’s important not to panic. Many individuals still attempt to force their way inside, but that will only make things worse. Below are a few ways you can try to remove your key and still access your home or vehicle, depending on where your key has broken off.

A Quick Note on Reusing Keys

Many would argue that if the key has broken off, you should be able to simply reinsert it the other half and the lock will eventually open if you twist it just right. The problem with this is that by inserting your broken half, you will inevitably push the other end deeper into the lock. The deeper that half is, the more difficult it will be to remove it.

If your key has snapped off in the lock, don’t panic. Take the free end and place it in a safe location (such as your coat pocket or purse). You can actually take both broken ends of your key to a locksmith once the other half has been freed and they can make a copy for you from the broken pieces.

What to do When a Key Breaks Off in a Lock

Using Tools to Remove Your Key

Not everyone has one lying around, but a broken key extractor is a handle little gadget to have. If you don’t, your local hardware store should carry one that is relatively inexpensive. Be forewarned these extractors come in single or double. Select the one that best fits your personal taste. Almost every locksmith uses one, and other methods of key extraction don’t always work.

To use the tool, you will want to place it within the keyway just along the biting of the key. By doing this, you want to basically attach the teeth on the key to the hook on the key extractor. After you are able to get it hooked together, simply turn and pull. It’s that easy.

The other tool you can use is a jigsaw blade. To use, simply get a small piece of metal and place along the keyway with your fractured key. If you do not have a thin piece of metal handy, you can actually break the blade on your jigsaw to insert in the lock. Use a thin pair of needle nose pliers to accomplish this without fracturing the blade incorrectly. After your blade is inserted into the lock just turn and pull. Your fractured key will slide right out.

What to do When a Key Breaks Off in a Lock

Try Super Glue

This is one of those last ditch efforts that may or may not work, but if you have nothing else and you are in a hurry, this is one method you can try that does work (just not all the time). The concept of using super glue is simple; place super glue on the fractured end and rejoin it with the other broken half so that once it has dried, you should be able to pull it out of the lock. However, if your key is not visible and is otherwise buried within the lock, you should not use this method as the fractured key is too deeply embedded for the glue to work. Also, you risk having the glue attach to the inside of the lock which would completely ruin the lock.

Carefully place the glue on the broken key in the lock. Too much super glue will ruin your lock, and too little will cause the other end of the key to not stick or break off again. After applying the glue, you will have to hold it in place carefully. If you push too hard, it will shove the broken end deeper into the lock. Once the super glue has dried, you should be able to remove your key but don’t try to reuse it once you get it out. Super glue is not a replacement for a real key.


Freeing a broken key from a lock is not difficult, but depending on the situation some methods may be more effective than others. Use common sense to determine what strength and which method will be the most helpful to you. Whether it is super glue or a power tool, or a key extractor, eventually something will work. And then you can remove your key without hiring a professional. This will save you both money and time.


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