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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

How To Open A Locked Toolbox Without A Key

by Ralph July 28, 2021

If you want to know how to open a locked toolbox without a key fast, you can call a locksmith for immediate assistance. But for the purposes of education, this article can still be used to learn more about the process of finding a solution and applying it to your locked toolbox. We will focus on general information and not how to open a truck toolbox without the key for a specific brand.

To find out how to open a locked toolbox without a key consider the following:

  1. New Key
  2. Manipulation
  3. Lock Picking
  4. Drilling
  5. Prying


Can you change a toolbox lock?

Most toolbox locks can be changed in a very similar way to file cabinet lock replacement. The cylinder will need to be removable, which means the lock can be disassembled and reassembled without damaging the toolbox. Before changing locks, the toolbox needs to be opened. Make sure to measure your lock’s dimensions before buying replacement parts.

What is the fastest way to open a locked toolbox without a key?

The fastest way to open a locked toolbox without a key is to break the lock. If you are looking for a non-destructive entry method, the fastest way to open a locked toolbox without a key is to call a mobile locksmith. However, if your broken lock is the cause of a broken key, your toolbox will require destructive entry.

How do I get a new key for my toolbox lock?

As long as an existing key can be copied, all you need is a key blank that will fit the lock and key cutter. Most hardware stores can handle this type of key making. For more advanced tasks, such as copying a broken key or making a key from a lock, it is best to call a locksmith with the proper tools and training.

Can a locksmith make a new toolbox key from the lock?

The two options for making a new toolbox key are disassembling to decode and lock impressioning. In both cases, you will need a new key blank that fits your toolbox lock. A locksmith will be able to provide key blanks and the means to cut them properly. The new keys will be cut by code, so there will be the need for decoding tools, a key cutter, and code keys (or a similar tool). 

How do you open a toolbox locked with a padlock?

Out of all the reasons your padlock won’t open, lock picking is the most universally reliable non-destructive entry method. Simpler methods like shimming and bump keys do not work on all locks. If you need to remove a broken padlock, bolt cutters or angle grinders will do the trick. A locksmith is the best choice for lock picking, but cutting the padlock can be done by anyone experienced with the available tools.

Reasons You Have No Toolbox Key

Whether you have a lost key, broken key, or the key won’t work because the lock is broken, the fact remains that you have no toolbox key. In order to figure out how to open a locked toolbox without a key, you need to be clear on why you do not have a toolbox key. Each reason for not having a working toolbox key changes what you can do to open your toolbox.

Lost Key

In most cases, if you are looking for how to open a locked toolbox without a key, it will be because you have lost the key. If you can find your lost key, great, but we will continue from here as if that is not an option. When this is your issue, the lock should be in perfect working order and allow you to use any of these methods to open a toolbox without a key.

If you lost your toolbox key, you should also consider what to do after you open your locked toolbox. For example, it may be a good idea to change the toolbox lock rather than try to have a new key made. Replacement will likely be a more straightforward process, and it will make sure whoever finds your lost key can’t open your toolbox.

Broken Key

The process of how to open a locked toolbox without a key is much easier when you have a broken key. If the key has snapped, the groove depths on the blade can still be measured to derive the key code. When the key has worn down, a locksmith can still decode it while compensating for the wear. You might not be able to fix a broken key for a toolbox, but you can use it to make a new key.

Do not try to use two parts of a broken key to open a lock. It will not work, and you will need to undergo broken key extraction after this fails. If a fragment of your key is already stuck in the toolbox lock, you can remove a broken key from a lock yourself or hire a locksmith to provide that service along with solving your toolbox lockout.

Broken Lock

When a toolbox lock breaks, it can retain the key or make it, so there is no working key because there is no working lock. Besides a key not inserting or a key stuck in the lock, you might have broken your key because the lock is malfunctioning. In the case of a broken toolbox lock, there is nothing to salvage because it does not work.

You are still looking for how to open a locked toolbox without a key, but the toolbox won’t open through keyway manipulation methods such as bypasses or lock picking. Focus on destructive entry, which will require a lock replacement. Seeing as though the toolbox lock already needed to be replaced, there is no real loss.

1. New Key

The most intuitive way to open a locked toolbox without a key is to get a new key made. This is done most easily if the key has snapped. You can ignore the lock and use the key fragments to construct a new key. But if this is not achievable in your situation, it is still possible for a locksmith to make a key from a lock.

Using some professional tools and techniques, a locksmith can use a working keyway to derive a key code without opening the lock. However, in many cases, making a new key in this way is going to require the lock to be opened first through either manipulation or lock picking. In the case of high-quality padlocks, the lock may need to be deconstructed in order to decode it.

2.  Simple Manipulation

There are several potential methods to open a locked toolbox without a key through simple manipulation. In the case of padlocks, you can open them with shims, which can be made out of soda cans or purchased online. If your toolbox is secured with a device that resembles a file cabinet lock, you may be able to use the following method:

  • Find a thin metal tool that will fit into the toolbox’s keyway.
  • Insert the tool until it reaches the back of the lock.
  • Jiggle the tool up and down as you turn it like a key.
  • Vary your rotational pressure as you continue to jiggle the tool.
  • Continue this process for no more than 2 minutes.

This will not work every time and requires more luck than skill. In many cases, this type of manipulation will open the pre-installed locks on most toolboxes. If you want to know how to open a locked toolbox without a key yourself, this is going to be the best method to try yourself. Feel free to go through the process a couple of times, but do not over-torque the lock or tool, as this can cause damage and clog the keyway.

3. Lock Picking

If you want to know how to open a locked toolbox without a key the professional way, the answer is lock picking. There is no more reliable form of lock manipulation than lock picking. If you are looking for how to pick locks for the first time, it is best to use the method of raking rather than single pin picking. Raking works very similarly to simple manipulation:

  • Gather a lock picking tension tool and rake profile lock pick.
  • Insert the tension tool at the top or bottom of the keyway.
  • Rotate the cylinder with the tension tool in the direction the key turns.
  • Insert the rake lock pick in and out of the lock.
  • Leverage the pins/wafers as you continue your teeth brushing action with the rake.
  • Continue this process for no more than 60 seconds.
  • If the lock does not open, remove tension and repeat.

When you are in a hurry to open your locked toolbox and not looking to lock picking as a hobby, this is best left to a locksmith. A professional locksmith can better apply their lock picking knowledge and even use the more advanced single pin picking technique. All locks can be picked, and toolbox locks are unlikely to be high-security enough to present any real struggle.

4. Drilling 

Drilling a lock is a destructive entry method, which means the lock will be unusable as a result of the opening procedure. Ideally, the lock can be replaced after it is drilled. If the lock cannot be replaced because of how the toolbox is constructed, then you will either need a new toolbox or go on with an unsecured toolbox. Review these contingencies before drilling a lock.

There is nothing too special about drilling a lock. Start with a drill bit that is slightly larger in diameter than the keyway. Continue to use larger and larger drill bits as you widen the hole. Eventually, you will destroy the shear line, which is the point where the lock internals bind. With that binding point obliterated, the cylinder can turn, and the toolbox will open.

5. Prying

Prying the toolbox open is the least recommended form of destructive entry because it is almost certainly going to cause damage to the toolbox itself. When you drill a lock, the damage is contained to the lock. Prying the drawer or lid of a toolbox can break the actuators and lock assembly. These components are not as easy to replace or repair.

And though it may seem avoidable, there are circumstances where prying will be the only way to open a locked toolbox without a key. For example, the lock may become disconnected from an actuator, so even drilling the lock and having it turn will not open the toolbox. There may be a way to bypass the lock and manipulate the assembly directly, but this is not always possible.

Closing Words

How to open a locked toolbox without a key will vary based on the reason you do not have access to a working key. Once you understand how that reason dictates or restricts your options, it is time to choose which method works best for you. Ideally, you do not want to damage your toolbox or lock, so you may want a locksmith’s opinion before using a destructive entry tactic.

Do not delay opening your locked toolbox. In the various construction fields, being locked out of your toolbox means you are locked out of your business. But even if your tools are not your livelihood, you have them for a reason. You need access to your property. United Locksmith is here to help. Give us a call if you have any trouble getting your locked toolbox open.

Category: Commercial, How To's, Residential

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