How To Break A Padlock Open? Read To Learn 7 Effective Ways!

Key Takeaway

  • There are two methods to break a padlock: either through the shackle or the pins and barrel.
  • Shackles on padlocks can be broken with a wrench, blowtorch, or compressed air.
  • To break the lock along its pins, you may either drill a hole through the keyhole or bump the lock using a hammer.

Padlocks are the most common type of lock used to secure valuables. Although padlocks (on doors) have been replaced by modern locks, they are still an integral part of our daily life. Chest locks, chain locks, bicycle locks, etc., are still quite common padlocks. But adopting keyless locks has caused many people to become careless with their padlock keys.

So, what do you do if you can’t find the key to a padlock? One option is to shed some money on calling a locksmith, and the other is to pick your lock. If you don’t prefer either of these or are in a state of emergency, you may also break open your padlock. Fortunately, if you have the correct tools and a little bit of knowledge, you can easily break any simple commercial-grade padlock. 

In this article, we will talk about 7 different ways to break open your padlock to unlock it without the key. To learn about how to pick a padlock without a key, read one of my recent articles.

How To Break A Padlock Open

You can break a padlock in two ways: through the shackles or the pins and barrel. Either way, you will be able to bypass the lock to access your valuables. In this section of the article, we shall discuss a few of the ways to break your padlock. 

Breaking a padlock should be a relatively easy task unless you are using a heavy metal padlock that is designed in a way that makes it hard to bypass.

Break The Padlock Using A Pair Of Wrenches

Break The Padlock Using A Pair Of Wrenches

The most typical method for opening a padlock is by using a set of wrenches. To spread the force on the padlock equally using this approach, you’ll need two pairs of wrenches that are around the same size. Larger-headed wrenches can do the task more effectively by applying greater force to the padlock.

  • Step 1: Using the mouth of the wrench, secure both sides of the shackles. Bring the handles of the wrenches as near to one another as you can after firmly grasping the shackles.
  • Step 2: Apply simultaneous pressure to both wrenches handles to break the shackles. Make sure you have a good grip on the wrenches so that when the force is applied, the head securely clasps the shackles. The strength of the shackles determines how much power is necessary to break them. The breadth and metal/alloy used to make the shackles affect how strong they are.
  • Step 3: After successfully breaking the padlock, separate the parts to take out the lock so you can access your belongings or space.

Drill The Padlock To Break It Open

Drill The Padlock To Break It Open

Drilling through the lock is another effective and sure-shot way to break open a padlock. You may consider this approach if you are looking for how to break a heavy-duty padlock.  It is important to note that while drilling the lock, you must wear protective gloves and a facemask to avoid any injury due to the metal pieces. Wear fully covered clothes, and do not drill the padlock holding it in your hand. The drill can easily stray and cause serious injury.

Here are the steps to drill your padlock to open it.

  • Step 1: Secure your padlock in a fixed position with the help of a tool or a rope. Ensure that the padlock moves as little as possible.
  • Step 2: Use a 1/8-inch drill bit and drill through the keyhole to remove the pins. Repeat the process with a ¼ inch drill bit, if required.
  • Step 3: Once the pins are released, the shackle is released too. Some padlocks include shackles that spring out when the lock is opened, while others must be manually opened. 

Break The Padlock Using A Screwdriver

Break The Padlock Using A Screwdriver

To break open a padlock, we can also use the force of a screwdriver to move the pins inside the lock. All you need is a flathead screwdriver comparable to the size of the keyhole of the padlock, and you are good to go.

Follow the steps given below to learn how to break a padlock with a screwdriver.

  • Step 1: Take a flathead screwdriver that has a tip that will fit the keyhole. To prevent breaking the lock, do not pound a wide-tipped screwdriver into it. 
  • Step 2: Insert the tip of the screwdriver as far as it will comfortably go into the keyway of the padlock. Instead of forcing the tool into the lock, use a smaller screwdriver instead.
  • Step 3: Push the screwdriver carefully into and out of the padlock while jiggling it within. Find the ideal position to engage as many pins as you can by adjusting the angle. Moving every pin out of the way will allow the barrel to travel freely.
  • Step 4: Repeat the previous action until the padlock spring opens after the removal of all pins. Some padlocks need you to manually remove the shackles; however, most padlocks release the shackles as you remove the pins.

While this process does cause internal dents to the padlock and affects its functionality,  if the procedure is carried out carefully and properly, you might be able to use the same padlock in the future.

Break The Padlock Using Hammer

Break The Padlock Using Hammer

This method of breaking the lock is also referred to as the cavemen approach. The idea is to tap the lock with a heavy object to displace the pins to break open the lock. You may either use a hammer or a heavy rock to carry out the process.

Let’s learn how

  • Step 1: First, raise the shackle by sliding two fingers inside the padlock’s shackle loop. If your padlock is smaller, you might be able to accomplish the same task with the aid of a screwdriver or another instrument with a similar rod-like design. 

    This step tenses the locking mechanism of the padlock, tightening the pins in their predetermined locking position, making it easier to smash open the lock with force. 
  • Step 2: Next, use a hammer or a rock to repeatedly and gently pound the side of the padlock. Throughout the procedure, keep the lock pulled.
  • Step 3: The pins gently slide apart with repeated strong and soft tapping, releasing the locking spring. The pins will be moved by a hit-and-trial combination, which might take a few minutes.

If the lock’s barrel is damaged at the end of the process, you may have to throw it away, but if you’re lucky, the lock could still be usable in the future.

Break The Small Padlock Using Compressed Air

Break The Small Padlock Using Compressed Air

Compressed air can be used to release a tiny padlock, such as those seen on bicycles or small chests. In reality, compressed air is actually difluoroethane, a compressed cooling gas. The idea behind using compressed air to unlock a tiny padlock is to chill the lock until it freezes, making it simpler to pry apart.

Let’s learn how 

  • Step 1: Grab a hammer and a can of compressed air. There are a few good options for purchasing compressed air on amazon but Falcon Compressed gas is tried and tested.
  • Step 2: Spray compressed air continuously over one side of the lock for approximately a minute or two or until the metal color lightens, and the lock becomes sufficiently brittle to break. Avoid doing this step without gloves since compressed gas is so cold that prolonged exposure might result in frostbite.
  • Step 3: When the lock has become brittle and cold, proceed to tap it with a screwdriver or a hammer until it breaks. To do this, you should strike the lock repeatedly. If it doesn’t work, spray the lock with compressed air once again and try tapping it.

Cut The Padlock Shackles

Cut The Padlock Shackles

Cutting the padlock shackles is one of the most widely used methods used by thieves to bypass the lock. When they can, why can’t we?

You may use a hacksaw to cut smaller locks with thinner shackles, but for heavy-duty padlocks, you need to use an angle grinder to cut the shackles. The is to cut through the shackle in a perpendicular direction and keep doing it patiently until you succeed. Keep your hands away from the lock and use pliers to hold the padlock. You use a 1.2 mm 60-grit disk in your angle grinder.

Break The Padlock Using Blow Torch

Break The Padlock Using Blow Torch

Using the blowtorch is also an effective way to cut the shackles of a heavy-duty padlock. However, this method has a few risks and must be performed with utmost care and precautions. Wear protective gear like gloves, a helmet, and a face mask before starting the procedure. Ensure that there are no children, pets, or flammable objects around.

Here’s how to break open a padlock using a blow torch.

  • Step 1: Keep the lock sturdy by gripping the bottom of the lock with a pair of pliers. A vise grip plier is the best suited for this job.
  • Step 2: Aim the blow torch on the shackle of the lock and light it for about 3-5 minutes. 
  • Step 3: Turn off the blow torch and let the lock cool down for about 2-3 minutes. 
  • Step 4: Next, carefully see the area where the shackle was heated to cut through it. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q1. Can I cut a padlock using a bolt cutter?

Answer – Yes, you may cut your padlock shackles using a bolt cutter. Use a long-handled bolt cutter to complete the task efficiently. However, if your padlock is a heavy-duty padlock, you may have to use an angle grinder to break open the lock.

Q2. Does hammering the padlock to break it open affect its functioning?

Answer – While the process of hammering the padlock to open does cause internal dents to the padlock and affects its functionality,  if the procedure is carried out carefully and properly, you can use the same padlock in the future.


Though padlocks are meant to safeguard our valuables and spaces, the same lock can cause severe trouble if you cannot access the key when you need it the most. Thankfully, there are several ways you can break open a padlock to access your belongings when you need them.

If you were seeking information on how to break a padlock without a key, the post must have been quite helpful. If you thought the material was useful, spread the word to your friends and family. If you have any more queries regarding the deadbolt lock, please contact me via the comment area.

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Hey! I am Mark. Though I am not a locksmith by profession, but locks have always fascinated me since my teens. And it all started when I got locked out of my house and I had to pick the lock. Since then it has become my hobby to learn more about different kinds of locks, understand their working and methods to pick them up. In due course of time, I have also become better aware of how installing the right lock goes a long way in ensuring iron clad security. I aim to share my passion (about locks) through this blog. If you are also passionate about picking locks or are just looking to beef up the security, hop on the ride.