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How to Rekey a Door Lock Without the Original Key

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Muhammad Baballe Ahmad, Mehmet Cavas, Sudhir Chitnis, and Zhen-ya Liu.

✓ Verified & Tested Information

Have you ever lost your house keys and been locked out? It’s a frustrating experience. Rekeying your door lock is a quick and easy solution. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to rekey a door lock without the original key.


Rekeying a door lock without the original key requires preparation to ensure it is done correctly. You will need to gather the necessary tools and materials to successfully rekey the lock. These materials include a new key, a rekeying kit, a screwdriver, and a drill. Once you have the materials, you can begin to prepare the door lock for rekeying.

Gather the necessary tools

Getting ready to rekey a lock without the existing key requires first gathering the right tools and materials. The tools you need include:
-Pin tumbler rekeying set
-A pair of needle-nose pliers
-Small flathead screwdriver
-Paperclip (optional)

The rekeying kit provides spare pins and springs that you will use to make a new key fit into the lock cylinder, as well as a tool for removing the existing pins from the lock cylinder. The needle nose pliers helps remove and place individual pins in the lock, while the flathead screwdriver is used for removing any screws that may be securing the lock cylinder. A paperclip can also be helpful if you need to reset or move some of the pins in order to get them into place correctly.

Remove the door lock

The first step in rekeying a door lock is to remove the lock from the door. Before you can do this, you will need to identify the type of lock you are working with. Most door locks are either a mortise or cylindrical type. For a cylindrical tumbler lock, locate and remove the two screws holding it in place and pull outwards on the switch lever. For a mortise style lock, locate and unfasten any screws holding it in place on either side of the door frame, then take off the back plate by unscrewing any screws at its base before carefully sliding it out of recessed pockets in the frame. Once you have removed both types of locks from the door, you can begin to disassemble them and access their internals.


To rekey a door lock without the original key, you must first disassemble the lock in order to access its components. Depending on the type of lock you have, this may involve removing the screws that hold the lock together, or it may require using a special tool to unlock the mechanism. Once you have the lock open , you can begin the process of rekeying.

Remove the screws and cover plate

Most door locks come with two screws on the edge of the door. Use a screwdriver to remove the screws, then pull off the cover plate. If there are any other screws, such as those located at the bottom of the lock, choose a screwdriver that fits them and loosen them as well. Once all of these screws have been removed, you will be able to access the latch assembly located inside the door.

Take out the cylinder

The first step to rekeying a door lock without the original key is to take out the cylinder. This process can be done by using a screwdriver and removing the screws on the faceplate of a standard deadlock or latch. Once all screws have been removed, you can carefully and slowly slide the cylinder from its position in the lock. Make sure you do not let it drop or it could cause damage to both the lock and the cylinder.

Next, locate the retaining pin that holds the key in place. This is usually located in one of either two positions: in line with your thumb when you insert your key into the lock or on top of your thumb as shown by an upward arrow on your key’s design. To remove this, use needle nosed pliers to pull out both ends of this retaining pin until it slides free from within your lock’s chamber grove.

Once this has been done, gently push away any springs before levering out all parts of your cylinder with a thin tool (such as a flathead screwdriver). With all these components removed from their secure location within your lock’s chamber grove, you should now be able to completely remove its cylinder for further inspection and rekeying.

Remove the retainer ring

Removing the retainer ring is the first step in disassembling a door lock. To do this, you will need to position the lock so that the retainer ring is accessible. Use an Allen wrench or other flat-blade tool to gently push down on the retainer ring while turning it counter-clockwise. This will free up the cylinder and unlock it from the housing assembly. Once this has been done, you can use needle nose pliers to pull out the lock cylinder from its housing. Be sure to keep all of your pieces organized and don’t lose any parts as these must be replaced when rekeying your lock. If necessary, you can use a light oil to lubricate any parts that are sticking or difficult to move.


Rekeying is a process where a locksmith or a homeowner can re-arrange the pins in a lock to make the existing key unusable and allow a new key to be used. This process can save you from having to replace the entire lock if you do not have the original key. In this article, you will learn how to rekey a door lock without the original key.

Insert the new key

Once you have your new key and rekeying kit ready, start by inserting the new key in the lock. Lift up on the top of the cylinder to remove it from the door knob, then fully insert your new key into the lock. This will help to reset all of the pins that are now in existing lock. When inserting a new key into a residential door lock, ensure that you insert it slowly and straightly as forcing it can cause damage to both the key and lock cylinder. When properly inserted, you should feel some resistance as if something is pushing back at you from inside of the lock’s mechanism. If this does not happen, remove and reinsert your key until it does before proceeding with rest of process.

Align the pins

The process of rekeying a door lock without the original key begins with aligning the pins. To do this, carefully insert your new key into the lock and slowly turn it. Feel for any resistance – that indicates that there are pins that need to be worked on. Once all of the pins have been aligned, remove your new key from the lock and proceed to separate each pin from its corresponding barrel. This is best done using needle-nosed pliers, taking care not to squeeze too hard or bend any of the pins. Be sure to reference the manufacturers instructions when working with any locking system components so you don’t damage them during rekeying.

Once all of the pins have been separated and removed, you will need to refer back to your original key and identify which size pin should be placed in each position in order for your new key to work properly. You may also find instructions included with replacement parts which can help you identify what order they should go in as well as how much tension needs to be applied when replacing them in order for them all fit together properly. The goal is to create a combination pin set so that only your new key will unlock your door!

Replace the retainer ring

Once you have removed the cylinder from the lock, you need to replace the retainer ring. On some locks, this is a simple metal ring around the edge of the cylinder, while on others it is a single short metal “tab” that pushes up into a hole drilled through the cylinder. Be sure to save any springs or other small pieces that you may take off. The retainer ring needs to be re-attached in order for it to hold the lockset securely into place when rekeyed. Securely tighten any screws or bolts used to secure it once properly positioned in place. Finally, insert a new key into your now-empty cylinder and turn it slightly so that you can well identify its position.


Reassembly is an important step in the process of rekeying a door lock without the original key. Properly reassembling the lock is important in order to ensure that it will work properly once it is rekeyed. In this section, we will explain the steps needed to properly reassemble the lock. We will also discuss the importance of following the proper sequence when reassembling the lock.

Put the cylinder back in

Once you have removed the shear line pins, springs, and retaining clips from the cylinder, it’s time to reinsert the cylinder back into the door. Simply slide the cylinder back into place in the lock until you hear a click or feel a slight resistance. This indicates that the retaining plate has been put back in its original position. When you reinserted the cylinder, did any of your pins or springs fall out? Take a moment to make sure all pieces are still in their designated slots before proceeding.

Secure the screws and cover plate

Once both the exterior and interior sides of the door lock have been reassembled, it is time to secure them in place. This will involve screwing them back in position. It is important that the screws are placed into the holes correctly and at the proper tension, so they hold securely without damage to the overall structure of your lock. After all screws have been placed, secure these further with a cover plate. This ensures extra security and also minimizes any potential for dust or moisture to get inside your lock mechanism. Make sure that you match up any pre-existing design flaws on the cover plate before securing it tightly with screws or holders in order to maintain consistent aesthetics of your door lock from both interior and exterior views.

Test the new key

After all the inner components have been re-pinned or otherwise adjusted to fit your new key, it’s time to reassemble your lock. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for exact steps, but generally you will need to start by reconnecting the springs and buttons on the outside of the lock face. Once these are in place and all pieces are secure, insert the new key in order to make sure that it moves freely and locks appropriately.

When you have confirmed that all parts of your rekey were successful, it is important to properly secure the lock so that it cannot be opened easily by an unwanted third-party. If possible, ensure that all screws are tightened and no excess is exposed which could compromise its security. After reassembly has been completed, test out all other house/building keys on both inside and outside doors with the same type of locking mechanisms; if they don’t work after testing make any necessary adjustments before securing those locks as well. Finally, take a few minutes to make sure that everybody who should have access is given their own personalized key; make sure these are kept in a safe place at home or with trusted parties.

Finishing Touches

Once you have successfully rekeyed the door lock, the final step is to apply the finishing touches. This includes adjusting the spring tension and lubricating the lock. It is also important to check that the pins and springs are correctly installed in the cylinder. Doing this will ensure that the door lock functions properly and can provide you with the added security and peace of mind.

Put the door lock back in

Once you have successfully replaced the pins and springs in the lock, it’s time to put it back into the door. The door lock is usually held in place by two screws that run through the frame. Carefully remove these screws while being mindful of any weather stripping that may be around the frame. Once these screws are taken out, you should be able to pull out the old lock with little effort.

If any of the pin tumblers or pins have fallen out during this process, you may need to reassemble them and start again from there. Take your time and ensure each piece is correctly aligned before pushing it into place and installing the screws back in their original positions. Make sure all extra parts that resulted from your rekeying process are disposed of properly so no one else can make a key from them! After putting everything back together, use a test key on your newly rekeyed door lock to make sure it works without any issues.

Apply lubricant to the lock

Applying lubricant to the new lock is important in order to make sure it will function properly. Apply a small amount of lubricant with a paper towel or cloth that is lint-free. If you have graphite powder, lightly sprinkle it over the keyhole area and opening mechanism of your lock. Insert the key once more into the lock and turn gently to spread the lubricant throughout the system. This will ensure that your new lock functions properly and has a smooth operation for years to come.

Check for proper functioning

Once the pins have been replaced in the cylinder, it’s time to check for proper functioning. Insert the new key into the lock and turn in both directions. If turning smoothly, proceed to lock and unlock the door a few times to make sure the pins are properly aligned and seated. Additionally, if there is a deadbolt installed above the doorknob, be sure to insert the key into both locks and turn in each direction. It is important to test both locks separately so that they function independently of one another.

After confirming that all locking functions work properly, close up any access holes created during disassembly of your doorknob or deadbolt as well as re-installing any door handles onto their respective places on each side of your door. You may also want to add a coat of protective oil or lubricant onto any components that have been manipulated during this process such as knobs, latch mechanisms or springs inside your lock cylinder. This will help ensure smooth functioning over time while also preventing rusting or other degrading of metal components from occurring due to exposure from air or moisture buildup over time.

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