How Do I Re-Key My Lock? Use These 9 Steps
No matter if you own a home or an apartment complex, the need always comes up of needing your locks re-keyed. Maybe you have a crazy ex-girlfriend, maybe a crack head found your key or maybe the tenant just moved out and you need to change the locks. Either way, knowing how to re-key a lock and what that actually means is important for everybody to know regardless of why they need it. First, let’s break down the basic steps in doing so, then we will delve into each step in a little more detail. In this article, we focus on the locks in your home aka door locks.
- Purchase a re-key kit
- Take off the exterior door lock
- Pop the lock cylinder out
- Take off the ring
- Remove the plug for the cylinder
- Remove the lock pins
- Pop in a new cylinder
- Put in the brand spankin’ new pins
- Put the lock back together
Seems pretty simple right? Well, it gets a little bit complex once you really start digging into these things. Organization is the first virtue of making this little re-key project a wildly successful endeavor. Let’s walk through the steps in a little bit more detail
1. Purchase a re-key kit
This is the most important step in the entire process. If you go super cheap here, you will be very sad after you have worked so hard to re-key the lock with inferior tools. We suggest these kits from Prime Line to get started, they have several different kinds so just search your door lock type:
2. Take off the exterior door lock
This is a pretty straightforward step, literally unscrew and remove the exterior door lock completely. For this step, you will need a few tools. Get a wrench, a hand screwdriver and an electric screw driver because it will make your life way easier.
3. Pop the lock cylinder out
The cylinder of course looks like a cylinder. You will be able to recognize it because it is round and has a keyhole inside it. A tube of some sort is needed to push it through the housing and remove it. Use rubber tubes, they work well and won’t break.
4. Take off the ring
There is an outer ring here that needs to be removed, it is a retainer ring. You will need a wrench to remove it and make sure you keep track of it after you remove it because you will need it when you finish.
5. Remove the plug for the cylinder
Push the plug out of the cylinder. You will recognize the plug because it has holes in it where the pins go. You may need to push with a little force, don’t worry you won’t break it. There are springs inside of it, so make sure they don’t fall out and if they do, put them back inside.
6. Remove the lock pins
Make sure you are only removing the lower pins. You will recognize these because they are machined like tiny little bullets in random sizes.
7. Pop in a new cylinder
This will help you fit the new pins which we will do in step 8. It will also keep those annoying springs out of your way a bit.
8. Put in the brand new pins
In your new re-key kit, the new pins will be coded in some way so you will know exactly which ones go where. For this step, you need either needle nose pliers of tweezers. Make sure that the new key lines up with the new pins just to make sure that you installed them correctly. If you got some cheap ass pins and all the sudden they aren’t numbered or color coded, then you have to guess it like a puzzle. But if you guess enough, you should be able to figure it out within about 10 minutes or so.
9. Put the lock back together
Yay! The best step of them all – the last step!
Now all you have to do is first put it together in this order:
- Cylinder plug
- Cylinder in doorknob
- Reattach it to door
- Test it
Viola! That is how you re-key a door lock. Now I know what you are thinking. James, how do I do this without messing up?! Well, the chances are that you might. Just be studious, diligent, organized, focused and you will be well on your way to getting this project done. It really is not as hard as it may seem. If you bought a lock that is an interchangeable cylinder style then you don’t even have to worry about all these steps. If you own apartments or rental properties, I recommend getting one of those types of locks as it will make you life much better and cheaper. Remember, success all starts with the right tools, here is maker of the tool kit that we personally use to change all of our locks.