How to remove handcuffs without a key

Updated April 17, 2017

It is universally accepted that police officers use handcuffs to restrain criminals and violent individuals. However, handcuffs are also used by magicians to prove their ability to get out of seemingly impossible situations while impressing their audiences. Friends use handcuffs to prank other friends while pretending to have lost the key. But what if they really have lost the key? There are a couple of options available to free yourself quickly and without much effort.

Remove the plastic tip from the hair clip.

Spread open the hair pin and insert the flat end halfway through the locking cam hole. Bend the pin towards the left hand-side inside the lock to form a 90 degree angle and remove from lock.

Reinsert the pin into the lock hole and bend it towards the right. Pull the hair clip out and you will see that the hair clip looks like the letter "S".

Reinsert the "hook" shape into the lock hole and twist with gentle force clockwise. The tension will release the locking mechanism allowing the 'teeth' on the handcuffs to slide free.

Break the clip off a pen to use as a shim.

Insert the pen clip between the locking mechanism and the silver teeth on the handcuffs.

Push the clip in and slide the locking arm out to free yourself.


The vast majority of handcuff manufacturer's use universal keys that can be purchased at gun shops.


Keep a spare key with your house keys to avoid potential embarrassment. Call the police to free you if you are unable to work the lock.

Things You'll Need

  • Hair pin
  • A flat piece of metal
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About the Author

Olivia Emisar has been writing online articles since 2008. She graduated with her associate degree in liberal arts from the University of Hawai'i and pursued two additional years in the field of psychology. Her studies also include a year at the University of Reno with an emphasis in communication and women's studies.