How to break a dead bolt lock

Written by melissa king
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How to break a dead bolt lock
Bump keys work by causing a lock's pin tumblers to split open. (door lock image by inacio pires from

Many types of front doors, including those used in apartments and houses, use a deadbolt lock as a secondary form of security. These locks make it difficult for would-be burglars to enter a residence, even if the doorknob has been removed. If you lost the key to your door's deadbolt and do not want to take the time to pick it open, you may opt to simply break the lock. This is possible by making and using a type of pick called a bump key. When used with excessive force, a bump key has the potential to destroy a lock.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Used or blank key
  • Nail file
  • Key cutting machine (optional)

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  1. 1

    Use a nail file to cut the key's ridged pieces down to their lowest point so that the ridges are pointed. A key cutting machine can do this for you as well. Set the machine to cut the key at the maximum depth of nine.

  2. 2

    File or cut off a small piece on the key's shoulder, or the part of the key that is held when opening a lock. Cut off the very tip of the key.

  3. 3

    Insert forcefully the key into the lock you wish to break. If the lock does not break, hit the key's shoulder with a hammer or another heavy object while it is inserted in the lock. Enough force causes the lock to break.

Tips and warnings

  • If you want to use the bump key to open the lock without breaking it, tap the key gently when it is inserted.
  • Only use a bump key to break locks that you own.

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