How To Rekey Locks And When You Should

Kevin Brown

There’s a fascinating relationship between locks and keys. Countless songs and movies are named after this inseparable pair, and for good reason. They rely on each other for functionality and purpose.

How To Rekey Locks And When You Should

Unlocking a door with a key is interesting. Without a locksmith’s ability to unlock a door by lockpicking, the door won’t open. But what if you need to change the lock?

What is rekeying?

Although there are different types of locks, the most common one is the pin and tumbler lock. It works by having pins of different lengths and thicknesses inside a tumbler.

Sometimes, you want to change the lock, but other times, you only need to change the keying process. This is often done for security reasons.

To rekey locks, remove and replace the pins with ones that match your new key to avoid being locked out of your home. Learning this process step by step is important.

How To Rekey Locks And When You Should

Although there are many types of locks, today we’re going to talk about rekeying a pin and tumbler lock. This is the most common and easiest type of lock to rekey aside from old-school locks.

But before you begin, you’ll need to purchase a rekey kit for the brand of lock you have. Not all brands have a rekey kit, so you may have to go universal or get a new lock with compatible rekey kits.

Step 1: Remove The Doorknob

The first step in the rekeying process is to remove the doorknob from the door. The process for removing the doorknob isn’t always the same, so check with the manufacturer or find the guide that came with the doorknob.

Sometimes, turning the doorknob one way and the key the other way can remove it, but the process varies and may require a special tool. Once the doorknob is removed, the cylinder can be easily taken out from the inside. It should pop out when pushed from the other side, but a cap may be present. If there is a cap, unscrew it or use the manufacturer’s tool to remove it.

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Then, apply pressure to the back to pop out the cylinder. Lastly, remove the C-clip holding the cylinder in place. Attach the key plug to complete the process.

The first thing you need to do after removing the cylinder is to remove the key plug. You can use the tube from the rekeying kit to do this. Attach the tube to the back of the cylinder and insert the key into the lock.

By doing this, you can push out the cylinder plug, giving you access to the pins that will be replaced. Once you have access, you can remove the pins by turning the lock over and using your fingers to remove any stubborn ones.

Step 4: Insert New Pieces

Now, you can insert the new key into the lock and place new pins inside. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully because it is not as forgiving as when you took the lock apart.

Replace the plug in the cylinder, push out the plug follower, and ensure the key will turn. Then remove the follower and replace the C-clip. It should snap into place, confirming you’ve done it right.

Step 5: Put Doorknob Back

Now try the lock one more time and install the doorknob. After reassembling, test the lock before closing the door. Then test it again after closing the door, ensuring someone stays on the inside.

If you don’t have two people, find someone you trust to help. Keep someone on the side of the door that can manually unlock it, or you may find yourself locked outside and needing a locksmith!

How To Rekey Deadbolt Locks

How To Rekey Locks And When You Should

Some locks, like deadbolts, are a little more difficult to rekey but can still be done with the right kit. You can also replace the deadbolt entirely if desired, even if you rekey the other lock.

To rekey the deadbolt, ensure that the bolt is fully extended before removing the screws holding it to the door. Then, remove the cylinder and the retainer pin as usual.

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Replacing most deadbolt keys is as easy as replacing other keys. The only challenging part is removing the casing, which can be done slowly with assistance.

Types Of Locks

How To Rekey Locks And When You Should

There are various types of locks with different uses. Some are for security reasons while others are for privacy. All can be used in your home or outdoor buildings.


Deadbolt locks are made for external doors to prevent predators and burglars from entering your home. There are single, double, and lockable thumb-turn deadbolts, each with different security levels.

Single-cylinder deadbolts are the most common. They have a thumb turn on the inside and a key lock on the outside. A more secure option is a double key lock, which requires a key on both the inside and outside.

Knob Locks

Knob locks are often used with deadbolts for simpler security. They don’t offer much security because they can be easily removed from the outside. Deadbolts provide the security in these locks.

This is because the lock is inside the doorknob, not the door itself. It can be easily broken off, allowing the door to be opened. That’s why knob locks are paired with deadbolts or used on interior doors.

Lever handle locks are often used for their ease of use. They turn easily, making them perfect for privacy in public spaces like restrooms. However, they should not be relied upon as the sole means of security.

Cam locks.

Cam locks are mostly used for objects or boxes rather than houses. The mechanism works by turning a tailpiece that closes over the end of the inside of the rim. They come in various security options.

Mortise locks are almost extinct in newer buildings because of cylinder locks. This type of lock requires a pocket to be cut into the edge of the door for the lock to fit into. They are not as secure as newer locks.

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The Euro Thumbturn lock is common in Europe and other parts of the world. In America, we usually see them on sliding glass doors. They are not very secure because they can break off easily.

Key Deposit Lock

Wall-mounted locks are commonly used for keys, typically found in firehouses or used for mail and other items. Interchangeable Core Cylinders (IC locks) are popular because they are easy to rekey and work with two types of keys. Jimmy Proof Deadbolts offer the highest level of security as they resist lockpicking techniques known as jimmying.

So, is it necessary to rekey your lock?

If you’re wondering whether you should rekey or replace your lock, you’re not alone. Rekeying can be a process and may not always be worth it.

To determine if it’s worth it, consider two factors: the cost and your attachment to the lock. If the lock is rare, expensive, and you love it, go ahead and rekey it instead of replacing it. However, if the lock is ordinary and you don’t have any sentimental attachment to it, it’s better to buy a new one.

New locks and doorknobs are affordable, and picking out new ones can even be enjoyable for your new home!

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