How to open an old lock without breaking it
Locks are very old mechanisms that have evolved and been perfected. However, its use continues to be the same, protect and provide security.
However, some models of old locks are still in use, either because they are part of objects that are considered relics, such as doors or chests, or because they have sentimental value for those who keep them.
The fact is that as old items they demand more care because they are prone to damage, while keeping valuable objects safe for example. In addition, it is difficult to repair or find a copy if the key is lost. It is there that the dilemma arises of how to open an old lock without damaging it.
What are considered old locks?
It is considered an old lock that dates from the 15th to the 19th centuries, few of which are available today. On the other hand, ancient is a term that some people are often used to refer to those locks that have been inside a property for a long time or that do not respond to a modern lock model.
In any case, to understand how to open it without damaging it, it is necessary to know how the mechanism works, so we can obtain better results when trying to open the lock.
Mechanism of old locks
These mechanisms consist of a box commonly made of iron called palastro, with a rectangular bottom in which raised edges are applied. Inside the lock are certain contoured pieces that fit into cutouts in the key called keepers.
The part of this system that is moved by turning the key is called the latch whose head is the part that comes out of the lock. On the other side of the latch is the spring, which is responsible for holding the latch in place and preventing it from running without the action of the key.
Another type of old locks are those of pistons; that when the correct key is inserted, they are positioned in an aligned manner, in order to let the key turn and move the latch.
Ways to open an old lock
Once the lock model has been identified, you can try to open it by applying the strategies that we will show you below. Don’t forget to be careful during the process to avoid breaking it.
Try to use a key
If you lost the key and the model is not that old, it may not be difficult to find a key in a store, or perhaps you have another model of old lock whose key can help you open the mechanism.
On the other hand, if the lock is old but it is within the 20th century models, you could try each of the keys that you have, in case you have a set of keys.
Another option is to ask for help from an acquaintance. Especially if you have country houses or old houses that, in general, have this type of locks on doors, objects, etc.
Using a card
We can use a hard plastic card that we will not use later, because it will probably be damaged. The idea is to insert the card between the latch and the gap where it rests, lowering the card and exerting some pressure, until the latch yields.
Using a pick
Lockpicks are tools widely used by locksmiths. They can be obtained in specialized stores, and are used in conjunction with a tension wrench, which is shaped like an L or Z.
The first thing is to insert the key through the keyhole and press, then the pick is entered on the first one making vertical movements. If we are in front of a piston lock, we must push each one of these inwards and when they all move, the lock will open.
Using hair clips
Bend a hook into an L shape, placing the curved part at the bottom end of the lock and pressing down as far as possible. If the lock has a knob we can try to turn it but without exerting excessive force.
If it does not open, we can take another hook and bend it into a J shape, inserting it over the previous one with the curved side up, making upward movements. When we try to open a lock with pistons we use the hooks as if they were picks.
Pick the lock
If you do not have picks or hair clips, a sharp tool can be inserted through the keyhole. This method only consists of inserting the tool in a perpendicular way and making force and turning until the latch located inside is moved in a convenient way, taking into account the size of the eye or key slot.
It is important to note that this method requires excessive care because it is necessary to avoid exceeding the force or adding a very large object that can damage the lock. Ideally, use bent wires or clips.
Remove the lock
This is a more desperate measure, but one of the best if you want to preserve the lock. Some of these old locks are fastened with screws, the job would be to unscrew the lock and remove it completely.
Depending on the age of the lock, some models can be uncovered, removing the screws and allowing the mechanism to be manually moved to open them. To confirm the possibility, all you have to do is remove all the screws. Normally this can only be done from the Inside so if you don’t have access to it, you should keep trying.
Call a locksmith
Although this involves spending money and is not a method as such, it is important to understand that if you have not managed to open the lock or there is a risk that it will break, it is best to call a locksmith or specialized personnel in the field. Sometimes it is best to leave all in expert hands.
It is clear to us that opening an old lock without damaging it when you do not have the key can be both an easy task and a headache. Therefore, we hope that the information we have provided has been helpful.