Rekeying Locks

I spent yesterday afternoon and late evening rekeying several of the locks in the new house, and boy was it an interesting experience. I’ve dabbled with lock picking in the past — for educational purposes of course — but I have never rekeyed a lock before. While browsing the aisles at OSH, I noticed a rekeying kit amongst the rows of Schlage and Kwikset locks. I figured that it couldn’t be that hard; after all, “Simple,” “Facil,” and “Only needs a screwdriver” were written in big type on the kit. The price made sense too, $10 for the kit instead of several times that to replace the locks or have them rekeyed professionally.

The instructions in the kit were pretty good, so as long as you knew which kind of lock you were disassembling. That said, it took me some time to get familiar with the three to four types of locks in the house. The actual process of rekeying is simple, so as long as you don’t pop the internal pins and springs!

In a typical lock, the internal pins are held above the shear line (the dotted red line) in the lock mechanism. A plastic cylinder that came with the kit replaces the key/pin mechanism (the gray box surrounding the colored pins). When you have the mechanism out, you can replace the colored pins with those that match your new key. Insert the mechanism back in place of the plastic cylinder, and you have a rekeyed lock!

On two of the locks, I accidently pulled the temporary plastic cylinder used to hold the internal pins/springs in place. Doh! It was a horrible feeling seeing the springs and pins fly out over the kitchen table. I spent what seemed like an eternity trying to figure out how to get the pins back into place. With only two hands, it was difficult to (1) hold the lock in place, (2) insert and push the internal pin into the spring well, and (3) push the plastic cylinder over the well to prevent the pin from popping out.

I finally came up with a MacGyverism of which I’m especially proud. In my toolbox, I had a pair of small pliers and some tape. Using the tape, I was able to stick one of the internal pins to the end of the pliers. This made it very easy for me to insert the pin into the lock and push it down into the spring well. From there, it was a snap pushing the plastic cylinder over the well. I then repeated the same steps for the four other pins.

Overall, it took about four hours to rekey the locks in the house. A locksmith could have done it faster, no doubt, but that would have taken all the fun out of it!

Commercials for the new D&D Online game have been on the tube lately. I feel like I’ve gained enough experience points to move up a level and earn a +1 on locksmithing!

The photos below are from the walkthrough of the empty house and our Quad-Birthday Celebration this past Saturday. Levi and Mr. Chang’s birthdays were in late February. Rae and I celebrated our back-to-back birthdays with a great present, the house!

2 thoughts on “Rekeying Locks

  1. Just wanted to tell you… I worked for many years as a locksmith and I know your pain…. there are tons of tools used to rekey locks for almost every situation…. I feel for you…. 4 Hours. I know I could have done it in less time..but the experience is where it all is! Now you can do it… and you have walked away with a new experience…. Congrats you have learned how to fish!

    I loved the pictures too…. TTFN Chris

  2. Phil Enke

    A pair of hemostats (surgical clamps) works well for getting thos stubborn pins in place, The tape was a good idea, however

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