How to Drill Out a Tubular Lock

Everyone has had experience with a broken lock at some point in their lives, whether it be an old padlock that refuses to open or a rusty combination lock that’s been jammed shut. But what do you do when you’re faced with something extra tricky – like a tubular lock?

How to Drill Out a Tubular Lock

Don’t worry, because we’ve got the perfect solution! In this blog post, we’ll provide step-by-step instructions on how to drill out a tubular lock and get it open quickly and safely. So if you’re ready to learn how to unlock any tough locks around your home or business without breaking them, keep reading!

Can You Open a Tubular Lock Without a Key?

In short, it is possible to open a tubular lock without a key, but it can be quite difficult and time-consuming. The most common way to open a tubular lock without a key is by drilling out the core of the lock. This method involves using a drill bit that matches the length and size of the lock’s cylinder and carefully drilling into it until the pins are exposed.

Once exposed, you can then use a flathead screwdriver or small pick tool to push each pin up one at a time until the lock opens. Drilling out the core of a tubular lock requires precision tools and patience, so if this method doesn’t work, you may need to consult an expert locksmith who can help you get your tubular lock opened.

Another way to open a tubular lock without a key is by using a tubular lock pick set. This method requires the use of special tools that are designed to fit into the depths of the lock and manipulate each individual pin until it reaches its correct position and releases the core. This can be difficult as well, but with practice, you may be able to successfully open your tubular lock without having to drill out the core or consult an expert locksmith.

Using a Tubular Lock Pick Set

Regardless of which method you choose to use, it is important that you take extra caution while attempting to open any kind of lock without a key, as mistakes could result in damage or injury. It is also important to remember that opening a tubular lock without a key does not guarantee that it will still be usable afterward.

6 Easy Methods How to Drill Out a Tubular Lock

1. Drilling Out a Tubular Lock

One method of drilling out a tubular lock is to use a power drill. This method is best suited for those who have some experience with using a power drill. Begin by setting the drill to reverse and then use a small drill bit to make a hole in the center of the lock. Next, increase the size of the drill bit and continue drilling until the lock is completely drilled out.

Be sure to wear protective eye and ear protection while drilling out the lock. Using a small vacuum cleaner can help prevent metal shavings from getting into the eyes or ears. Once all of the metal is removed from the lock, use a screwdriver to remove any remaining pieces from the inside of the lock.

2. Using a Hand Drill

Another method of drilling out a tubular lock is to use a hand drill. This method is best suited for those who do not have experience with using a power drill. To use a hand drill, you will need to first select a bit that will fit into the lock’s keyway.

Make sure that the bit is slightly larger than the keyway so it does not get stuck in the lock. Once your bit is selected, line it up with the center of the keyway and begin drilling at a slow and steady pace. As you drill, regularly clean out the keyway by using a thin wire or screwdriver to remove debris that has been created as your bit cuts through the metal of the lock.

3. Using an Impact Driver

An impact driver can also be used to drill out a tubular lock. This tool is similar to a power drill but delivers more torque, making it ideal for drilling through tougher materials. To use an impact driver, you will need the appropriate drill bit and a belt hook to securely hold the lock in place.

Use an Impact Driver

Once you have those items, simply attach the drill bit to the impact driver and line it up with the keyhole of the tubular lock. When drilling, be sure to apply steady pressure so that you don’t crack or break the lock. When you’ve drilled a deep enough hole, you should be able to see inside the keyway and remove any remaining pieces of the lock.

4. Using an Air Compressor

An air compressor can also be used to drill out a tubular lock. This method is best suited for those who have some experience with using an air compressor. First, attach the drill bit to the air compressor. Ensure that it is firmly in place and secure.

Then, adjust the settings on the air compressor to ensure that you are drilling with enough pressure and speed for the job at hand. Adjusting these settings can be tricky, so make sure to read up on how your particular model works before you begin.

Once the settings are adjusted, start drilling slowly and carefully, being mindful not to apply too much pressure and damage the lock or drill bit. Keep drilling until you have drilled through the entire lock. Then remove the broken pieces of metal from the cylinder so that it can be replaced if necessary.

5. Using an Oxygen Acetylene Torch

An oxygen-acetylene torch can also be used to drill out a tubular lock. This method is best suited for those who have some experience with using an oxygen-acetylene torch. To begin, safety glasses must be worn.

Oxygen-acetylene Torch Can Also Be Used

Then heat up the area around the lock’s keyhole. Make sure to keep an eye on the lock and move the flame away if it begins to glow red. When it is hot enough, insert a drill bit into the keyhole and rotate it until you feel some resistance. This indicates that the drill bit is cutting into the lock.

Continue to add pressure and rotate the drill bit, being careful not to apply too much pressure as this could damage the lock or yourself. When you’ve drilled out enough of the material in the keyhole, use a pair of pliers to remove the remaining pieces and pull out whatever is left inside. With this method, you may need to replace your lock as it is likely to be damaged in the process.

6. Professional Locksmith

It is also possible to have a professional locksmith drill out a tubular lock for you. This method requires the least amount of effort, as a locksmith will have the necessary skills and tools to do the job quickly and efficiently.

However, if you don’t know any local locksmiths or are not sure that they can do this kind of work, it may be best to try out some of the other methods listed previously before turning to a professional. Furthermore, employing a locksmith for the job will likely cost more than buying tools and attempting to do it yourself. In any case, the decision is up to you and what your particular situation calls for.

What Tools & Supplies You’ll Need?

To drill out a tubular lock, you’ll need a few key tools and supplies:

  1. A drill, preferably a high-torque device such as an electric or cordless drill.
  2. A set of steel cutting bits in sizes that match the length of your lock.
  3. A steel punch or center punch to make a starter hole in the lock.
  4. Safety glasses and ear muffs or other hearing protection for when you’re drilling the lock.
  5. A file set with both round (rat-tail) and half-round (flat) file heads.
  6. A flat-head screwdriver or wire brush to clean up any debris created by the drilling process.
  7. A lubricant such as graphite powder to help reduce friction when cutting into the lock.
Safety Glasses and Ear Muffs

Additionally, you’ll need a sturdy workbench with a vice that accommodates the size of your lock and a light source to better see inside the lock while you’re working on it. Always wear safety goggles or glasses when drilling, and use hearing protection to avoid potential damage to your ears from loud noises.


Taking the time to understand how to drill out a tubular lock has its benefits. Not only can it save you time and frustration in the long run, but it can also give you peace of mind if a situation ever arises where you must take matters into your own hands.

Keep in mind that blind drilling is both risky and dangerous, so use caution when executing any lock drilling operation. Additionally, wear protective goggles, gloves and other appropriate safety gear when working with tools and power equipment. Drilling out a tubular lock requires skill and confidence, so practice beforehand on old locks or locks that are not important.

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