Lock Picking Alert: Learn How To Open A File Cabinet Without A Key

Key Takeaway

  • To open your cabinet lock without a key, you may use a bobby pin, paper clip, or a nail file.
  • If your cabinet lock is hard to pick, you may either need to get a new key made by a locksmith or open your lock using a drilling tool.

File cabinets are essential components of most offices and many households. Sized perfectly to fit most documents and files, file cabinets are responsible for securing important papers. You can lock the cabinet to ensure nobody has access to the valuables inside without your permission. 

But what happens when you face the challenge of needing to unlock a filing cabinet but no longer have access to its key? It can be disheartening and leave you feeling helpless! Thankfully, here are easy-to-implement methods that you can utilize in order to succeed. This article will detail these techniques and explain the best approach for successfully opening a file cabinet even when the key is nowhere to be found.

How To Pick A File Cabinet Lock With Paperclip

How To Pick A File Cabinet Lock With Paperclip

Using a paperclip is one of the simplest methods to unlock your file cabinet without a key. Follow the steps below to learn how to pick a filing cabinet lock using a paperclip.

  • Step 1: First, take a paperclip and use a pair of pliers to straighten one of its ends. This will act as a pick to open your cabinet lock.
    straightening out paper clips
  • Step 2: Place the curved end of the paperclip into the keyhole while holding it vertically between your index finger and thumb. Your key will be the paper clip’s rounded end.
  • Step 3: Twist the pin while using your sense of touch to push and pull it out of the lock. When the key pin reaches the shear line, it should feel tight. The paperclip grips the lock’s pins while you do this.
    Twist the pin
  • Step 4: Turn the pin anticlockwise to unlock your file cabinet lock once you believe it has located the sheer line. If your file lock doesn’t open by turning it right, try turning it to the left. Some file locks only open by turning them anticlockwise.  You might need to twist the pin a few times to open the lock if you don’t succeed at once.

Using A Nail File To To Open The File Cabinet

Using A Nail File To To Open The File Cabinet

You may use a nail file to pry open the lock on your file cabinet. It is comparable to using a knife to open a door lock. You may also use an object similar to a nail file but ensure that the object is not very sharp.

The procedure is as follows.

  • Step 1: Find a nail clipper with a little nail filing instrument. Most of these tools have a curved tip at the top of the file. You may also use a stand-alone nail file for the same.
  • Step 2: Hold the tool up to the bottom of the keyhole and insert it as far as it will go, curved tip downward. The majority of the files are able to fit in the keyhole.
  • Step 3: When you’ve found the right spot where you feel the nail file slide in, rotate the file clockwise and then counterclockwise inside the keyhole. The lock of your file cabinet should unlock.

How To Pick A File Cabinet Lock With A Bobby Pin

If none of the aforementioned techniques worked for you to pick your lock, you might want to think about hiring a locksmith. Although they often perform a good job, locksmith services can be costly and time-consuming.

As an alternative, you might be able to open the door on your own with the help of two bobby pins.

The steps are listed below.

  • Step 1: Take a bobby pin, bend it straight from the middle, and place it in the keyhole at the bottom of the lock. The flat side of the pick must be facing up, and it must be inserted one centimeter into the lock.
    90 degree bobby pins
  • Step 2: Push the pin’s remaining portion to the left. The pin should be turned as if it were a key to unlock the door. This pressure is substantial even if the key won’t go very far.
  • Step 3: To build a pick, take the second bobby pin and bend it back; it resembles a long metal wire.
    bend one leg on the pin
  • Step 4: Simply to make the pick simpler to grip and apply pressure on, create a loop from the opposite side. You may take the pick’s one end and fold it in half.
    add a loop
  • Step 5: Insert the looped pin into the upper side of the lock keyhole while maintaining pressure on the first pin, then bend it down to release the lock and allow it to open.
    Insert the looped pin

Ask a Locksmith To Cut A Key Without The Original Key

Ask a Locksmith To Cut A Key Without The Original Key

If you didn’t previously know, a locksmith could make a new key for your lock without using the old one. He may employ a number of strategies to be successful in the process, including cutting the key in accordance with the keycode, imprinting the key by using a blank key in the lock and disassembling the lock to figure out the key code.

If the original key is lost, some locks could be more difficult to open than others or might even be impossible to key. However, this is typically the case with high-security locks, and the majority of other locks should open without a key using one of many methods.

Drill Open Your File Cabinet Lock

Drill Open Your File Cabinet Lock

While drilling the lock is a way to open a file cabinet lock without a key, you should only use this technique in a desperate situation because the drill will ruin the lock’s internal workings and render them useless. After using the drill to release the lock, you’ll need to repair the lock and potentially other components of your cabinet.

Follow the steps given below to drill open your file cabinet lock.

  • Step 1: Before beginning, lightly lubricate the drill bit with a machine lubricant. By doing this, any friction that may normally develop while you drill through the lock is reduced. 
  • Step 2: Start your drill while maintaining steady pressure and a medium pace. Drill away until you reach the lock mechanism, at which time you should switch to reverse and slowly take out the drill bit from the lock.
  • Step 3: After removing the drill, insert your flathead screwdriver into the lock mechanism’s slot and spin it clockwise.

If your initial drilling effort were successful, the release lever on the lock would move. If not, you’ll need to drill again using a bigger bit. Try the screwdriver once again when the second round of drilling is finished. Repeat the process as required until the release lever can be tripped.

Consider using eye protection during the procedure to shield your eyes from any stray metal. Also, be careful not to shatter any drill bits inside the lock.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Do I need to replace the file cabinet lock after drilling it open?

Answer – Drilling to open a file cabinet lock will damage the lock. Hence, you will not be able to reuse the lock and will have to get it replaced.

Q2. Does prying a file cabinet lock damage the lock?

Answer – Yes, picking a file cabinet lock will result in minute dents in the lock mechanism. The durability and dependability of a mechanism might be severely harmed by improper use of a tool or method.

Q3. Is replacing locks more economical than rekeying locks?

Answer – Rekeying a lock is generally less expensive than changing locks. This is so because the key pins within the locks are less expensive; however, when you change a lock, you have to pay for all new components.


Having your essential documents stuck in a file cabinet because you cannot locate their key is a horror that nobody would want to experience. The agony multiplies when you need the documents urgently. While I cannot help you find your key, I can definitely help you get access to your valuables by assisting you in picking the lock. 

If you are looking for how to get into a file cabinet without a key, the article must have been valuable. Do let me know in the comment section if one of these methods worked for you. For any other assistance on home security, I am happy to help!

Leave a Comment

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.