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How to unlock a cam lock in furniture assembly

Updated February 21, 2017

While assembling furniture, you may find that you made an assembly or cam lock fastener installation mistake. Perhaps you incorrectly connected furniture pieces together or inserted the cam or cam pin into a hole incorrectly. When this happens, the only way to separate the furniture pieces, or remove and then reinstall the cam and pin, is by unlocking the cam lock. As the cam locks with a simple turn, unlocking it requires little beyond reversing this action.

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  1. Select a flathead screwdriver from your screwdriver set that has a tip almost the same length of the long portion of the crossed slot on top of the cam. Position the tip securely in the slot.

  2. Turn the handle of the screwdriver counterclockwise to turn the cam within its hole. Turn until you can't any longer. If you meet resistance as soon as you try to turn the cam, try the other direction.

  3. Pull one piece of furniture away from the other to confirm that you unlocked the cam lock.

  4. Warning

    Never use a crosshead screwdriver to unlock a cam lock as the crosshead tip can slip easily from the cam and damage the slots, making it difficult to reuse the cam.

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Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver set

About the Author

Based in Southern Pennsylvania, Irene A. Blake has been writing on a wide range of topics for over a decade. Her work has appeared in projects by The National Network for Artist Placement, the-phone-book Limited and GateHouse Media. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Shippensburg University.

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