How do I go about getting broken skeleton key piece out of the lock?

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Our house was built in 1927. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to keep all accouterments period specific. One of our wooden doors has used a skeleton key for decades. Yesterday the “tumbler portion”of the key broke while in the lock. How do I go about getting the broken piece out of the lock?

  5 answers
  • FL FL on Dec 23, 2017
    " Has the lock been getting more difficult to operate over time, or has it suddenly gone from consistent operation to fail? If the former, wear & door sag (or shifting) likely to blame, the latter, a broken part maybe.
    Start with trying to get some WD40 (or your choice of penetrating aerosol lubricant) using the spray tube to direct the spray into the locks' keyhole & UP into the lock case as best you can; the moving parts are ABOVE the keyhole...simply spraying INTO the keyhole will just make a mess on the other side. A little on the bolt also, if you can get to it between the door & frame.You've already tried lifting/pulling/pushing the door while holding turning pressure on the key. If you suspect the lock is very worn/ worn out, "lift" the key when it meets resistance when turned...a baby Vice Grip will help hold the key here.Also, while keeping pressure on the key, see if you can "help" by using an ice pick or similar between the door edge and frame to push the bolt back. Then there's always the hinge pins, but that would be a last ditch effort, depending on door/frame integrity." Does this help?

  • William William on Dec 23, 2017
    Not sure if your door is stuck in the "locked" position, so if it is, then my advice would not work. Remove the knobs and shaft. Then unscrew the mortise lock from the door. Usually held on by 2 screws (maybe a set screw too if your lock has a deadbolt as well) Once the lockset is removed from the door, you can unscrew the top "plate" of the assembly, which will reveal the workings of the lock and you should easily be able to get the skeleton key out. Good Luck!

    • Danielle Odin Danielle Odin on Dec 27, 2017
      I totally agree. I love those old lock mechanisms. They are so easy to work with.

  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Dec 24, 2017
    I think I would take it off the door and take it to a locksmith to see if he can get the key out and then provide you with a replacement key. Or they may can come out on a house call.

  • Ebbjdl Ebbjdl on Dec 24, 2017
    Try a needle nose piler. Try WD 40 before you use the pliers

  • Kathy Petersen Kathy Petersen on Dec 24, 2017
    Have you tried a pin magnet?