A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals
A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals
I can’t believe I locked myself out of my shed! That’s probably what you are thinking about right now. But rest assured, this article has the information you need to get your shed back open. We will walk through a few basic bits of information and run through the types of shed locks.
The top solutions when you are locked out of a shed include:
If you are locked out of your shed, the quickest and most effective method of entry is to call a locksmith. A locksmith’s comprehensive service starts with a diagnosis. With a better understanding of the cause of the lockout, you can receive the cheapest and least invasive solution.
The basic method of getting a broken key out of a lock is to hook the key fragment with a thin flexible probe and inch it out of the keyway. However, it can be simpler if your shed is secured with a padlock. Face the keyway down, and tap the top of the lock with a hammer or other blunt object. If the broken key does not slide out, apply some lubricant.
It is possible to open broken shed locks, but it will limit the ways the lock can be opened. How the lock has broken will also affect what you can do to open the lock. For example, before drilling a lock, you should know if you are locked out of the shed because of a jammed padlock shackle. In which case, cutting the shackle is a better approach than drilling.
If you suspect you are locked out of a shed because the lock is broken, double-check you are using the correct key. Make sure the key is properly inserted in terms of both the correct side and depth. If you are still having issues, use a door lock lubricant. After this troubleshooting, you can assume your lock is broken or contact a locksmith for a professional diagnosis.
Similar to when you are locked out of your house, when you are locked out of a shed, there might be a window. For some lighter sheds, you may be able to lift the structure. But any gap or opening is unlikely to be big enough to pass through. The lock will still have to be opened, but this may be easier to do by accessing the interior of the shed.
If you are locked out of a shed, a locksmith can come to your location and get you back inside. In most cases, this is going to be under the purview of a residential locksmith. But if the shed is part of a business campus, educational campus, park, etc., you may wish to request a commercial locksmith.
You may be saying to yourself, “I locked myself out of my shed, why do I need to know anything other than how to open it?” To know your lock is to know how to open it. Unless you want to call a locksmith, in which case all you need to know is their phone number.
But whether it is for practical use or just for your edification, learning how to solve your shed lockout does require you to identify certain things about the type of lock it is using. It is very rare for a shed door to use the same lock hardware as a standard door.
When it comes to the best shed locks, you may encounter a traditional deadbolt, but the most common locks will be padlocks, keyed handles, and rim locks. We will go over how to identify these locks, so you can get back in when you are locked out of the shed.
A shed padlock is differentiated from other lock types by its ability to be removed from the door and easily moved to another entryway. Padlocks come in all shapes and sizes, but the basic parts of a padlock are the lock body and the shackle.
The shackle secures to a hasp on the door. The body holds the internal locking mechanisms. The best padlocks will offer more security by using stronger metal to deter brute force attacks. Padlocks can also use more intricate internal mechanisms to prevent lock picking.
On pre-fabricated sheds, you will often find a keyed L-Handle similar to what you would see used as locks for larger file cabinets. This style is constructed slightly differently than the door handles present on most buildings, having more in common with T-handle garage door locks.
These locks are almost always manufactured by low-security brands, as they are designed with mass production in mind. They are built as cheaply as possible. The metal is often brittle or soft, with extremely simple internal components which are easy to pick or drill.
Another visually distinct shed lock is the rim lock, who’s unique design allows it to be fixed on thin doors that cannot be cut to accommodate a standard deadbolt. The lock body often fixes to the interior side of the door, with a hole drilled through the door so the key can be inserted from outside.
You may also see older shed locks with the rim lock installed on the exterior side of the door. With this much access to the lock body and bolt catch, it is easier to address any issues that have caused you to be locked out of the shed.
If you are locked out of a shed, there are a handful of solutions you can take advantage of. What works best for you will depend on the tools available to you, your type of lock, the condition of your lock, and your general skill level.
The first thing that you should do if you are locked out of a shed is try to locate your key. It is standard for every lock to come with two keys. Hopefully this second key is not stored inside the shed itself. It is a good idea to store spare keys in a different structure than the one they open.
But maybe you have no spare key. Perhaps your shed lock is using a warded lock, and you can open it with a skeleton key (but you need access to one). However, all of these strategies are moot if you have a key stuck in a lock or your existing key won’t turn.
Being locked out of a shed is easy enough to solve with a power drill. But drilling locks has some prerequisites, such as having a drill, multiple drill bits, and access to the keyhole. You can drill one of two ways. A novice way you can stumble through, and a pro way that requires a bit more understanding of the lock.
The novice way:
The pro way:
Using lubricant can make drilling easier. You do not need a specific door lock lubricant because the lock will be destroyed. If there is a broken key in the lock, this process will work better with the keyway cleared of any fragments or debris.
The simplest way to solve the problem of being locked out of a shed is to cut the lock. Whatever is in the way, just cut it. You can use a reciprocating saw or angle grinder on the latch bolt for rim locks and handles. A bolt cutter will work for cutting the shackles or hasps for padlocks.
Whatever you are cutting will need to be replaced. This may not be ideal for old sheds that use antique locks if you wish to preserve the vintage aesthetic. And depending on the cutting tools available and the space you have, it may be difficult to make cuts without harming the door and jamb.
As long as a lock is functioning, lock picking is a solution to being locked out of a shed. You will need to know how to pick locks, and have access to basic lock picking tools. Lock picks can be made from paper clips or other improvised materials, but it is more effective if you use tools manufactured by top lock pick brands.
The basic tools you need are a lock pick and a tension wrench. Look into raking rather than single pin lock picking to simplify this task. But this will take some trial and error if you do not have experience. If you want this work done professionally, refer to the locksmith section.
For expert precision that guarantees only the best approach is used with the correct tools, you need a locksmith. For the shed in a backyard, you can contact a home locksmith. Groundskeeper’s sheds for larger campuses, parks, athletics fields, etc., often require a commercial locksmith.
It is not always the locksmith prices that vary between technicians but rather the type of experience. There are certain considerations for sheds in commercial settings that differ from residential sheds. The physical access control hierarchy must be maintained, which may require keyed alike padlocks or even master key systems.
You won’t be locked out of your shed for long if you can find a key, drill the lock, make a strategic cut, pick the lock, or call a locksmith. Just be sure that whatever you do, you are aware of how your type of lock affects the work.
If you have any questions or would like to share your experience of being locked out of a shed, leave a comment below. And for help with your specific shed lockout, check to see if United Locksmith is currently in your area.