Removing a Filing Cabinet Lock

What You'll Need
Bolt cutters

A filing cabinet lock can be a real life saver, especially if you have sensitive or confidential financial or legal documents that are under restricted access. But what happens if you lose the key? Or maybe you’ve discovered an old filing cabinet in your basement or attic that you’d love to clean out and use, but it’s got that pesky lock on it. Never fear, the situation need not be permanent; keep reading to learn about the best techniques for removing a filing cabinet lock.

Step 1 - Get a Replacement Key

You’ve probably already tried banging, hammering, kicking and maybe even a little healthy cursing for good measure; but at lock still won’t budge, right? Fortunately, there are some more efficacious options at your disposal. First of all, if you don’t want to damage the cabinet or permanently remove the lock, you can try to determine the model and make of the filing cabinet or lock, if it’s locked with an external padlock, for example. Then contact the manufacturer online or by phone to request a replacement key.

Step 2 - Pop the Lock Open

If you can’t wait or just don’t care about preserving the lock anyway, the quickest and easiest way to remove the filing cabinet lock is simply to get out your tools. A first line of defense is to insert a screwdriver in between the drawer and the cabinet frame, and pound on the handle with a hammer until you manage to pop the lock out of place and pry it open. You can also try this technique with a crowbar

Step 3 - Cut the Padlock Off

If your filing cabinet is locked with an external padlock, then you’re in luck: merely cut it off with a pair of bolt cutters, and open the drawer with ease.

Step 4 - Drill the Lock Out

Finally, if the drawer is locked with an internal lock, the best option may be to just drill it out. Put a little lubricant on the drill bit to protect the metal, then insert it into the longest, widest part of the key hole. Gently drill at a medium speed until you here the lock pop, then insert a small screwdriver or pick and turn the lock open.