How to Open a Mortise Lock without a Key? (Explained)

how to open a mortise lock without a key

Opening a lock without its keys is an unusual thing for sure, especially if it is a mortise lock. Why? Because such locks are harder to open without keys. So, one can easily panic over how to open a mortise lock without a key

Well, using household items such as paperclips and bobby pins is one of the go-to ways to open a mortise lock without damaging the lock. Also, one can use a butter knife, screwdriver, gift cards, and drill machine to open such locks with 5 or 3 levers on them. 

Based on the number of levers your lock has, you need to use different tweaks. Otherwise, the lock might not open. So, follow the guide to understand when to use which method.

How to Open a 5 Lever Mortise Lock without a Key?

A mortise lock with 5 pins or levers is more secure than the ones with 3 pins. So, if you forget your key and try to make a duplicate key for the broken 5 lever lock, you are less likely to struggle to duplicate the key. 

But that does not mean you cannot open it without a key. To know how to open a broken mortise lock with 5 levers, follow these steps: 

  • Step 1: As locks with several levers can be difficult to open without a key, you should first try with a screwdriver that has a small tip. You need to insert and position the screwdriver into the keyhole in a way that it assembles between the pins or tumblers of the lock.
  • Step 2: If the screwdriver is not properly set inside the keyhole, apply gentle push and insert as much of the screwdriver into the keyhole as possible. This step is necessary to raise the pins or tumblers. 
  • Step 3: Rotate the screwdriver gently or turn it left or right until it opens the lock. Keep rotating the screwdriver at different positions, and you never know which one will open the lock for you. 
  • Step 4: If you do not have a screwdriver, no worries, take a gift or any expired card that you do not need any longer. It is better if you can take a long and laminated card so that you can bend it easily without breaking it. 
    Step 5: Push the card as much as possible between the door frame and the door. You need to make sure that you are inserting the card near the handle.
  • Step 6: The card should stay at a 90-degree angle line with the door.  
  • Step 7: Now you need to move or bend the card gently towards the doorknob. You need to tilt it until it touches the knob correctly so that it can apply force to the deadbolt to help open the lock.
  • Step 8: With gentle pressure, you need to lean against the door. Then move the card towards the other way until it touches or reaches the angled edge of the bolt. 
  • Step 9: Follow step 8 several times to develop more force on the bolt or lock. After wiggling the card several times, it will open the lock. 
  • Step 10: As mentioned above, 5 lever lock is more secure, so if the steps above do not work, as a last try, you can use a drill.
  • Step 11: Take a bradawl or knife and create a hole between the inner and outer sides of the lock. Then with a small drill around ⅛ inch in size, drill through the small hole you have made.
  • Step 12: Drill until it starts breaking all the 5 levers or pins on the lock. 
  • Step 13: With continuous pressure, keep drilling slowly. It is a must to drill slowly, otherwise, the drill will not stay in line, and you will have difficulty later opening the lock.
  • Step 14: Now, take a ¼ inch drill and drill in the existing hole to break the 5 pins again.
  • Step 15: Push a screwdriver into the hole you have drilled and move the screwdriver clockwise or counterclockwise. As the 5 levers are not in proper shape, the screwdriver will open the lock easily. Though after the drilling, you need to replace the lock. 

How to Open a 3 Lever Door Lock without a Key?

It is comparatively easier to open a locked, jammed, or broken three lever door lock without the original keys. Its build quality or the fewer levers makes it easier to bypass the lock. So, you can try out these steps until it opens: 

  • Step 1: The 3 lever locks can jam easily, so you need to lubricate it first before you try to open the lock.
  • Step 2: Take your hairdryer and place it near the keyhole to blow air through the keyhole and remove the dust.
  • Step 3: With a spray cleaner, clean the keyhole and the lock cylinder. If it is possible, try to insert the spray straw inside the keyhole.
  • Step 4: Spray a dry lubricant inside the keyhole and insert a key or bobby pin into the keyhole. 
  • Step 5: Then turn the pin or the key around to make sure the liquid spreads evenly throughout the keyhole and lock.
  • Step 6: Take a butter knife with a flexible blade. Do not take any sharp knife, otherwise, it can accidentally hurt you and the door lock. 
  • Step 7: Place and insert the thin butter knife between the door frame and the door, near the lock. 
  • Step 8: You need to push the knife there in a way so that it can enter between the lock and door frame.  
  • Step 9: Keep pushing the sharp part of the knife as far as possible, and move the knife until you can locate the door lock. 
  • Step 10: Once you can feel the door lock bolt, stop sliding the knife.
  • Step 11: Press or tilt the knife downwards until you find the angle to move the lock.
    Step 12: Apply as much pressure as possible to move the lock, and after pushing and sliding the knife several times, it must open the lock. 

How to Pick a Mortise Lock with Household Items?

Not everyone has the professional mortise lock bypass tools to unlock a jammed or broken lock. And that should not be an issue for you as long as you have your household bypass tools or items around. 

Most of these items work perfectly as a key to open a jammed or broken lock. But you need to handle them with care. So, here are the steps to how to open a jammed mortise lock without damaging the lock: 

  • Step 1: Take two bobby pins or paperclips and pliers.
  • Step 2: In order to make a pick, you need to use the paperclip or bobby pins. For that, with the pliers or with your hands, gently straighten one bobby pin or clip. 
  • Step 3: If the straightened pin has a rounded tip or end, you need to remove it using the plier or your teeth. Though we suggest using the pliers.
  • Step 4: Take the straightened pin and create a 20-degree angle from the ⅛ inch bottom of the pin by bending it. 
  • Step 5: In case you do not have a tension wrench around, you can make it using another pin or clip. First, straighten the pin, and use the pliers to bend the edge of the pin to make it look like an L-shaped pin shown in the picture below. 
  • Step 6: Insert the L-shaped pin into the bottom part of the keyhole and apply gentle pressure to rotate the pin left or right or towards the direction of the lock. The rotation will help to turn the jammed or closed lock around.
  • Step 7: Insert the pick you have made with a pin into the upper part of the keyhole and move it up and down or wiggle with rapid movements.
  • Step 8: Follow step 7 several times while keeping gentle pressure on the L-shaped pin. The more you will wiggle the pick the more you will hear the sound of locating the numerous pins of the lock.
  • Step 9: The wiggle will raise the pins of the lock, and the L-shaped pin that you have inserted will be able to move freely to unlock the door. 
  • Step 10: You might not be able to open the mortise lock with household items on the first go. So, you will have to keep trying out these steps with patience until you succeed. 

Did I Answer Everything You Need To Know About How to Open a Mortise Lock Without a Key?

It is not an everyday thing to get locked outside or inside the home when the key is nowhere in sight. So, not everyone knows how to open a mortise lock without a key, especially without damaging the lock and door. 

But if you follow the steps we have reviewed above that require household items, you will be able to unlock the lock without any major destruction.

However, if nothing works, you should go for the drilling method then or you can contact a locksmith. 

Recent Posts