Gilles' Outlet

September 18, 2007

Re-Keying a lock

Filed under: Locksmithing — Gilles @ 3:57 am

A lock is re-keyed using a "Change-A-Lock" kit.


Skill Level: 2 (Basic)

Time Taken: About 30 minutes for two locks

Re-keying a lock is the operation by which a lock is altered so the key which used to unlock it does not work anymore. It is an alternative to replacing the whole lock. Re-keying also allows many different locks to be opened with the same key.

The "Change-A-Lock SCHLAGE, BALDWIN, PEGASUS" kit after I took it out of its packaging. I ordered it from "Change-A-Lock" web site for about $10. It allows re-keying up to 6 locks with one kit. Change-A-Lock offers five kits, one for each type of lock. You need to order the right set for the lock(s) you plan on re-keying.

There are other ways to get a lock re-keyed:

  • You can hire a locksmith: he will come by, remove the lock, re-key it and re-install it. This is by far the most expensive option,
  • You can also remove the lock yourself and bring it to a locksmith. A re-key is usually charged $8 dollars,
  • You can also bring the locks to one of the "big twos" (Home Depot or Lowes) for re-keying. At the time of the writing, HD charges $8.45 by lock.

I had two locks to re-key (with a potential third one in the future) so it made economic sense for me to purchase this kit and do it myself.

The kit is very easy to use. However, it is critical to read all the instructions completely once before attempting anything.

Left: I used a Phillips screwdriver to remove the two screws retaining the inside part of the lock.

Right: I removed the knob assembly and set it aside. It uncovered the retaining plate. The retaining plate holds the outside part of the lock with two screws. I removed them with the same screwdriver.

Left: The cylinder came easily from the lock.

Right: This lock is manufactured by BALDWIN. According to the instructions, you have to hold the retaining pin with the provided tool (that stainless steel rod on the left of the picture) as you are unscrewing the retaining nut (the silver nut on top of the brass lock body.

It sounds only difficult. This took about 30 seconds.

Left: The nut and retaining pin (and its spring) have been removed. 

Right: This is the critical step. I inserted the old key into the lock and turned about 10 degrees. Using the provided retaining tool (black plastic piece), I pushed the cylinder assembly out of its housing.

The retainer tool holds a set of five small spring loaded metal pieces located inside the brass housing. Inserting the retainer tool incorrectly would allow those spring loaded pieces to break loose and believe me, they are a pain in the neck to put back in place.

Left: The cylinder and its housing have separated. The retainer tool (black piece of plastic) is securing the spring loaded pins inside the brass housing. It is critical not to remove it at this time.

The small pieces of metal in between the cylinder and housing are the old pins. These are what defines which key open the lock. They will be replaced by new pins.

Right: I followed the instructions given with the kit to install new pins. Pins are color coded: the gold pin goes in the slot the closest to the key, they goes the red pin, then the purple pin and so on.

I found it easier to use a pair of tweezers.

Left: I inserted the new key and turned it so all pins where at the same height. I put the cylinder back into his housing. This pushed the retainer tool back as the cylinder was set into place. Eventually, the retainer tool fell off.

Right: I reinstalled the retaining pin and using the same tool as in step 4, I screwed the retaining nut back.

This completed the re-keying. I later re-installed the lock on the door by reversing the steps 1 to 3 above.

Tools Used:

  • Philips Screwdriver

Materials Used:

  • One "Change-A-Lock" SCHLAGE, BALDWIN, PEGASUS kit


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