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How to disassemble a padlock

Information about locks themselves. Questions, tips and lock diagram information should be posted here.

How to disassemble a padlock

Postby jebus » Sun Dec 04, 2005 9:19 am

There are so many guides on this site so i decided to create my own.

I noticed in one thread someonce said you cannot disassemble a brass padlock. This is obviously untrue - if it was true the padlock could not be assembled.

This is a short guide, not as usefull as some of the others, but will allow some understanding of dissasembly, which will become usefull when the
curious mind wants to see what is inside or wants to rekey or repin the combination.

This guide was created by myself and is to stay only on this
site and on your personal computer. Anyone who commits unauthorised distribution will meet my boot.

The jebus guide to padlock dismantling.

For the following guide to be successful it is wise to have:

-A drill press
-A vice suitable for a drill press
-Replacement pins or brazing rod
-A large set of drill bits
-As many files as possible
-Bench grinder
-Angle grinder
-Dremel tool and accessories
-Set of taps and tap wrench
-Bolts, MIG welder

Standard brass padlocks

Basic overview of parts.

We all own padlocks, but yet we never try to dismantle them correctly, we usually take the poor thing to the evil blades of the common angle grinder, which often (depending on the make of the lock) is the incorrect approach to dismantling the padlock.
Dismantling a padlock is useful for many things, rekeying, repairs, modifications and also to see what we are facing when picking the same make of lock in future picking endeavours.

Locating the retainers:

There are a few different styles of padlocks, most will have pin retainers others will use a brass cover. The retainers for the cylinder and shackle will be on the face of the padlock, and for the type using the brass cover it will be in an extra pin hole under the cover.


It is not easy but with a careful look we can see the retaining pins. Though they are not clear, they will give a fair idea of where to drill. To drill the retaining pins, select the correct sized drill bit and place it into the chuck of your press (make sure it is all tight).
We then place the lock into your vice and tighten* to reduce the risk of the lock slipping in the vice.
As we can see the holes, bring the drill down on the centre of each retainer (the drill is turned OFF for this). It will leave an accurate dent to guide the drill bit for accurate drilling (you can also use a metal punch). After all is setup and you are happy with the way it has been marked we then proceed to drilling each pin.
Each retainer should be drilled until the resistance is relieved in the press handle. Once they are all drilled you will be able to remove each pin. (The same method is used when drilling the cylinder and shackle retaining pins, though it doesn’t matter as much if you over drill the pin)

Plugging the holes.

After we have repinned or rekeyed the cylinder we can proceed to plugging the pin columns. There are many possible ways to do this but there are a few that I have found to work particularly well with brass padlocks and my practice locks.

The tap method:

This is my preferred method for my practice locks, as it allows the lock to be easily rekeyed again. The tap method’s aim is to create a thread in the column using the appropriate sized tap. This will allow for a bolt of the correct size to be screwed in and out of the column allowing for easy rekeying.

The brazing rod method:

For this we select the correct size brazing rod (this can be found at any local hardware store). We will then cut the brazing rod into retaining pin sized pieces (place a long chamfer on each makeshift retaining pin to help the pins jam. After they are ready to be used, place the chamfered end into the hole and hammer them in.

NOTE: You could always head down to your local locksmith and kindly ask for a small amount to suit your padlock.

Master padlocks.

The master padlocks that are made of hardened plates are also quite easy to disassemble. They use a series of bolts to keep these plates together and are very easy to locate (if you cannot locate them, they either don’t exist or you’re are blind, though a blind man could locate them easily).

Removing and replacing the bolts:

To remove them, simply angle grind/grind/file the caps/knobs off of the bottom of the padlock (these keep the bolts fixed). You will then be able to remove the face plate and remove the cylinder.
To replace all we simply need to do is either MIG weld the ends of the bolt you cut or you can replace the bolts all together.

Removable core padlocks.

These are straight forward, if the padlock is a removable core model, it can simply be disassembled by removing the screw (located under the shackle, so when it is opened you simply stick the screw driver in and unscrew). On some models the shackle can be removed by undoing the screw on the face of the padlock (the lock will have to be unlocked for the shackle to be removed).

Using heat to remove pins

There is an easier way for those people who do not own a drill press to remove the retainers. This method is the heat method. All that is needed is a blow torch/oxygen-acetylene torch or a gas stove. We simply heat the padlock for 2-5 minutes and place the padlock in a sink full of ice cold water. The retaining pins will shoot out due to the shrinking/expanding of the metal (There maybe a small amount of damage to current pins and springs but can be fixed by cleaning and replacing parts.

Warnings * If the setup is not tight there is a chance that the drill bit can break and sever arteries and limbs.
* As with any hot surface, wear gloves and never pick the object up if it is hot.

I plan to go through my padlocks and post some retaining pin sizes, pictures and hopefully a video or two to add to this thread.

Good luck.

"homer go boom!"
Posts: 26
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2005 6:13 pm
Location: South

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