How can I open a locked file? (with photos)

Paper clips can be used to open a locked file.

If you need to open a locked file and you have lost or misplaced the key, there are several different options you can consider. Some of the methods to do this can be destructive and include puncturing the latch or forcefully opening the drawer. If you don’t want to damage the lock or cabinet, you’ll need to contact a locksmith or pick the lock. A locksmith can cut a new key for you by scanning the lock for a code number, or pick the lock if no code number is present. Many file cabinets use simple wafer locks, which can often be plucked out using a paperclip or even swinging a different key up and down when trying to turn it.

Padlocks can be used to secure file cabinets.

Each of the different methods of accessing a locked file has benefits in certain situations. Your options may be limited based on factors such as cabinet construction, lock type, or a desire to avoid damage to any of them. If you plan on discarding the locker and lock and simply want to access the contents, opening a drawer is sometimes an option. Many file cabinets are made from a thin sheet of metal that can be easily bent with a little pressure from a crowbar. This method requires folding the cabinet or drawer so that you have access to the locking mechanism, which must also be folded out of the way.

File cabinets are usually made from a thin sheet of metal that is easy to bend.

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Another method of gaining access to a locked file is to drill the lock. The lock cylinder will need to be replaced later, but normally you will avoid damaging the case itself. Typically, you should start the procedure with a drill bit slightly wider than the keyhole and try to pierce the pins. If you can, you can open the lock with a screwdriver. Otherwise, you will need to use one or more larger bits to drill through the entire lock cylinder; be sure to wear protective eyewear when doing this.

A steel nail file can be used to pick a locked file.

Professional locksmiths also have a few ways to deal with locked file cabinets, so if you don’t mind spending some money, this is an option too. If your lock has a code number printed on the face of the lock or on the frame, a locksmith may be able to use this to cut a new key. Locksmiths also have the tools needed to open these locks very quickly. Alternatively, by contacting the cabinet manufacturer, you may be able to obtain a new key or instructions for bypassing the lock.

Many file cabinets use wafer locks, so you might as well consider choosing for yourself. To open these locks, all you have to do is push each wafer all the way up. One way to do this is to insert a key for a different wafer lock and move it up and down while trying to turn it. Any other thin piece of metal can also do the job, including a paper clip, nail file, or knife. To gain access to a locked file that uses a more complex lock, you will typically need to purchase a professional break-in kit.

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