Padlock Bolt Cutters: How to Cut a Lock With Bolt Cutters

Key Takeaway

  • The process requires the right-sized bolt cutters depending upon the thickness of the lock shackles.
  • To cut a padlock with bolt cutters, the bolt cutters should be placed on the shackle of the lock and twisted until it is cut. 

Though I rarely step out of Toronto for my work, recently I had to make a visit to Michigan. As I dragged my suitcase through the terminal and onto the plane, my heart sank, knowing that I had forgotten the keys.

With no way of obtaining a new key, I desperately sought a way to open the padlock without the key. After researching online, I stumbled upon a surefire solution, i.e., cutting the padlock with bolt cutters. I had never cut a padlock before, so I started reading about how to do it correctly. I eventually got the hang of it and was able to free my items from the lock.

Once I was finished, I wanted to share my experience and knowledge with others in case they found themselves in the same situation. Thus, I created a blog about how to cut a padlock with bolt cutters. I included detailed step-by-step instructions on what to do, from getting the correct size of cutters to how to make a clean cut with minimum damage. 

So let’s get started.

How To Cut Padlock With Bolt Cutters

A padlock can be cut with bolt cutters and all one needs is strength and a few supplies. Here is a detailed stepwise procedure for cutting a padlock with bolt cutters.

Material Required

If you want to know how to cut a lock with bolt cutters, the most important item you’ll need is a pair of bolt cutters.

Bolt Cutters

Bolt cutters are extensive pliers-like tools with blades on each end that are used to cut through thick metal. The size of the bolt cutters you need will depend on the thickness of the lock shackle you’re trying to cut. 

You should also have a flathead screwdriver and a heavy-duty pair of gloves to protect your hands. Lastly, make sure you wear safety goggles when operating bolt cutters.

Step 1: Get the Right Sized Bolt Cutters

Get the Right Sized Bolt cutters

When it comes to how to cut a lock with bolt cutters, you need to make sure you have the right size for the job. Bolt cutters come in different sizes, ranging from small handheld versions to large ones designed for industrial applications.

To ensure that you are able to successfully cut through a padlock, make sure you get bolt cutters that match the size of the lock’s shackle. Usually, you will need at least 24-inch bolt cutters for most standard padlocks. For locks with thicker shackles, you may need longer or larger bolt cutters.

If you opt for a pair of bolt cutters that is too small, you won’t be able to exert enough force to cut through the lock. On the other hand, if you get one that is too large, it can actually cause damage to the shackle itself. 

Step 2: Open the Jaws Of The Bolt Cutters

Open the Jaws Of The Bolt cutters

Hold the handle in one hand and place your other hand on the cutter’s jaw. Apply pressure to the handles until the jaws are opened wide enough to fit the shackle of the padlock. Make sure the jaws are wide enough so that they can close over the entire circumference of the shackle.

Step 3: Place the Cutters on the Shackle

Position the cutters so that the tips of the blades are aligned on either side of the shackle. Make sure that the blade is flush against the shackle and that it is not angled in any direction. This will ensure a clean cut. 

Step 4: Close the Jaws

Close the Jaws

Once you have it in the right position, close the jaws of the cutters and make sure that they are tight against the shackle. 

Make sure that the open area of the jaws is placed firmly around the shackle of the lock. Also, ensure that the jaws are completely closed before applying pressure on the handles. For effective cutting of the lock, the blades of the cutters should make complete contact with the metal of the lock. Now, you are ready to start cutting!

Step 5: Twist the Cutters

Twist the cutters

Once you have the bolt cutters in place on the shackle of the lock, it’s time to twist the cutters. To do this, hold the handles of the cutters and apply pressure. Once you have a firm grip, twist the cutters to the left or right with a strong motion, using your body weight to create leverage. 

With each twist, you will be cutting further into the metal. Continue twisting and applying pressure until the lock has been cut open. Once you’ve completed this process, you will have successfully cut through the lock with bolt cutters, allowing you to gain access to whatever is being secured by the padlock.

Safety Measures While Cutting A Padlock With Bolt cutters

It is important to keep in mind certain safety measures while using bolt cutters to cut a lock. 

  • Firstly, when you are using the bolt cutters to cut the lock, make sure you use the right size of bolt cutters that fit the shackle of the lock. This will ensure that you don’t have to apply too much force while cutting, which can cause the bolt cutters to slip and injure you. 
  • Secondly, when cutting the lock with bolt cutters, it is important to wear protective eyewear and gloves. This will help protect your hands and eyes from any debris or flying objects that may be produced when cutting the lock. 
  • It is also advised to check the bolt cutters for any damage or wear and tear before using them. This will help prevent accidents from happening and make sure you get the job done safely.
  • Finally, it is important to keep the bolt cutters away from children and other people who do not understand how to cut a lock with bolt cutters. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Can a bolt cutter be used to open a padlock? What sized bolt cutter should I use for the same?

Answer – Yes, you can use a bolt cutter to cut your padlock’s shackles. To complete the task efficiently, use a long-handled bolt cutter. 

Make sure you pick bolt cutters that are the same size as the shackle of the lock. For the majority of standard padlocks, you will typically require bolt cutters at least 24 inches long. You might need bolt cutters that are wider or larger for locks with thicker shackles and vice-versa.

Q2. How to break a lock with bolt cutters if my lock says you can’t cut it off?

Answer – If your lock says you can’t cut it off, you may still be able to open it using bolt cutters, but the process will take much longer. Alternatively, you may use an angle grinder to cut the lock shackles faster.

Q3. Can I cut a disc lock using a bolt cutter?

Answer – It is pretty challenging to cut through a disc lock with a bolt cutter since there needs to be a more exposed shackle area because the shackles of a disc lock are hidden. Even if a bolt cutter has a long handle, the twisting motion will be complex. However, you may use an angle grinder to cut through the lock. To learn more about how to cut a disc lock using an angle grinder, read one of my past articles.


Cutting a lock with bolt cutters is a simple yet effective way to gain access to a locked padlock. Following the steps outlined above and using the right size bolt cutters for the job, you can quickly and safely cut through a lock with minimal effort. With the proper safety measures in place, anyone can learn how to cut a lock with bolt cutters in no time.

If you found the information helpful, please spread the word to your friends and family so they may also benefit from the content. Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for more information and tips on home security. 

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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.