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How do locksmiths open doors?

Getting locked out of your home or office is something very common and can happen to anyone and at the most unexpected time, catching you completely off-guard.

What usually follows is anxiety over the realisation that you’ve been locked out, followed by frantically searching for ways to get inside.

We suggest you relax, take a step back, and instead of resorting to any drastic measures, call a professional locksmith right away.

Some common scenarios that locksmiths are trained to deal with include:

  • Getting locked out without a key,
  • Getting locked out with the key inside the door,
  • Key getting stuck in the lock and the door not opening, and
  • Key getting snapped or broken inside the lock.

Read on to find out how locksmiths open doors, the different types of doors they have to work with, and ways to prevent lockouts from happening in the first place:


Professional locksmiths are trained to unlock and open a wide variety of door locks including conventional ones such as euro cylinder locks, anti-snap locks, 3 and 5-lever mortice locks, and locks fitted to different types of doors including uPVC, composite, and wooden, as well as modern keyless access control systems.

The different types of doors that locksmiths have to work with include:

  • uPVC,
  • Composite, and

Standard uPVC doors are generally very easy to open and, although look very good, are not the most secure option out there with their pre-fitted locks.

New uPVC doors being sold in the market today have addressed the security issues and now have anti-snap locks that cannot be broken easily to gain unauthorised access.

Wooden and composite doors are again relatively simple to get into, however, if they have mortice locks on them, they may take longer than it would to open the door as compared to other conventional locks.

Locksmiths carry a special set of tools that include lock picks, screwdrivers, and drills that they use depending on the type of door and the locks fitted inside them.

There are two ways that locksmiths use to open doors:

  • Destructive entry and
  • Non-destructive entry.

Non-destructive entry is always the first choice and involves opening the doors without damaging the doors and locks. Techniques and tools involve lock picking, using mortice decoders, and bypassing the lock.

Destructive entry is the last resort after all non-destructive attempts have failed and the door and lock are particularly stubborn and resistant to opening. Common techniques include drilling the lock open to force open the door.


In case of a lockout, you may call a professional locksmith who will reach you quickly, open your door, and let you inside your property in no time.

How do they open locked and jammed doors, though?

Locksmiths use their skill and expertise that they have developed over the years to open different types of door locks using a variety of tools and techniques.

It can take them anywhere from a few seconds to an hour to pick open a lock or pry open a jammed door. Of course, the total time required depends on the type of lock and if there is a single lock on the door or multiple locks that need to be opened.

It also depends on the type of issue they are faced with, and whether there is a key or not, or whether it is broken or has snapped inside the lock.

Some of the most common door opening techniques include:

Bump keys

Bump keys are one of the oldest tools used to open doors and work effectively on almost all house doors that feature a conventional tumbler lock. They are designed in a way to bypass the lock by breaking in the lock’s pin mechanism.

Lock picking

Lock picking is a specialist technique requiring expertise, experience, and skill to open four-pin locks that feature four internal rods arranged and configured in a way to turn the mechanism to unlock. The idea of lock picking is to lift all four pins at the same time at a certain level to open the said lock.

Cylinder grilling

Cylinder grilling is a destructive entry method and is usually on the bottom of a locksmith’s list of techniques for opening a conventional door. It involves strategically drilling the cylinder lock to unlock the door and will always result in the lock being replaced with a new one.


For modern locking mechanisms, such as keyless entry systems, locksmiths cannot use conventional methods such as bump keys and lock picking to open them.

Since most of the keyless entry systems are digital, they require programming to unlock the door. Professional locksmiths have the required programming skills to work on these locks, something that might just baffle an unprofessional handyman.

Key analysing

Key analysing is another advanced door opening technique where the locksmith uses the electrical resistance value of the door to make a new key using a mechanical key cutter.


For instances when you get locked out with a broken lock, the locksmith will replace the lock if it is faulty or damaged with a new, more secure one.

However, be wary of locksmiths who will suggest changing the locks right away without trying different methods and techniques to salvage your existing locks. A good locksmith will always consider changing the locks as the last resort unless it is a requirement and is necessary for security.

With new locks, you have a great opportunity to upgrade to a better locking mechanism, something that you probably wanted to do for a long time or was long overdue.

Locks are one of the first lines of physical defence against security threats, which is why they must be reliable and at par with industry standards.

You may take this chance to switch to keyless entry systems, also called access control systems, that eliminate the need for keys and, in addition to keeping unauthorised access in check, they also offer a higher level of control and monitoring.

They not just act as an effective deterrent against criminals looking to break in, steal, and damage the property, but also allow you to know who is coming in and going out, and at what times, something that cannot be done with traditional keys.

With keyless entry systems, the user presents the credentials to a reader which are forwarded to the control panel. The request is processed and the credentials are then compared with a control list.

If the credentials do not match those on the list, access is denied and the door remains locked. If the credentials match, the control panel sends a signal to the relay and the door is unlocked.


For instances when your key snaps or breaks inside the lock, the locksmith will first remove the key from the lock using various tools and techniques without damaging the door or lock, open the door and let you in, and then cut a new key to fit into your lock.

Key cutting is a very popular method used across the country to make keys by either using a duplicate of an existing key or making a new one altogether.

There are several types of key cutting machines used to cut different types of keys. The most common key cutting machines include manual key cutting machines, automatic key cutting machines, laser key cutting machines, tubular key cutting machines, cylinder key cutting machines, mortice key cutting machines, and dual key cutting machines.


Getting locked out of your home or office can certainly be frustrating and, although you can easily call a professional locksmith who will instantly drop by and open the door and let you in, wouldn’t it be best if these lockouts didn’t happen at all?

Here are our top tips to avoid getting locked out of your property:

Get spare keys

Since the majority of lockouts happen because of people forgetting, losing, or misplacing their keys, it only makes sense to have a few backup keys to rely on in such emergencies.

Also, having spare keys allow you to alternate between the main set and the backups and not put too much burden on just one key.

Keys are prone to breaking due to general wear and tear, and switching between two or more keys will help extend key life making them last significantly longer.

While spare keys can be very convenient at times, they can pose a serious security threat if kept in the wrong place. People have the habit of hiding their spare keys in obvious locations such as under the doormat or a flowerpot.

You must be very careful about where you hide them because if they fall in the wrong hands, such as those of burglars or intruders, they can become a huge nuisance by invalidating your insurance policy.

Regularly maintain your locks

As is with everything else, locks will wear down over time and with continued use. Therefore, it is mandatory to have them regularly maintained and serviced by a professional.

Even though you are less likely to experience a lockout due to a lock breaking down unexpectedly, small issues may turn into bigger problems if not rectified immediately, such as not cleaning the locking mechanism and allowing dirt and debris to deposit which could lead to the lock potentially jamming.

It is always better to be proactive and take good care of your locks as advised by a professional locksmith since it will not just maximise your safety and security but also help build a good relationship with a trusted locksmith in your area.

This way, you’ll always have someone to rely on in times of emergencies instead of having to look for a reputable locksmith on the spot.

Upgrade to smart locks

Smart locks are keyless electronic or mechanical locks that let you lock and unlock your door wirelessly using either an app on your smartphone or various other authentication methods.

They eliminate the need for keys and, with that, the worry of forgetting them or leaving them on the wrong side of the door.

There are different types of smart locks with the most common entry methods including key cards, key fobs, keypads, biometrics, and Bluetooth.

Smart locks also allow granting temporary access to your friends, relatives, or service providers, and revoking the access permissions with extreme ease and convenience.


While you may be tempted to pull a DIY and try to pry the door open in case of a lockout, it is strongly recommended that you do not do that and instead hire a professional locksmith to do the job for you.

Anyone can break down a door using a couple of tools and some brute force, but is that necessary?

You don’t need to resort to breaking your doors and windows to get in, something that will cost you much more than hiring a professional locksmith to open the door.

Professional locksmiths have the expertise to open doors without breaking or damaging them and are experienced to work with a wide variety of doors and locking mechanisms.

Here’s why you must always hire a professional locksmith to open locked or jammed doors:

  • Locksmiths possess a great deal of skill, knowledge, and familiarity with various types of doors and locking mechanisms,
  • They study and understand the inner mechanisms of different locks as part of their professional training and practice opening locks without a key, using several types of non-destructive tools and techniques,
  • Their skills are not only limited to conventional doors and locks but are trained and equipped to open digital and smart locks with the same amount of skill and finesse,
  • Trained and certified locksmiths have specialised tools needed to carry out the job in the least amount of time with no or minimal damage to existing locks, doors, or windows. They also provide insurance coverage which means that any damages done to your locks or doors will be covered.
  • Professional locksmiths are up-to-date with the latest lock technologies and can perform a risk assessment of your existing locks and security measures to see if they comply with the industry standards or not.
  • They can be relied upon to provide a holistic package that includes not just door opening and responding to lockouts but also installing locks on doors and windows, repairing and fixing locks on doors and windows, replacing or rekeying locks, key cutting, master keying, upgrading to digital locks, providing security safe services, and installing alarm systems.


We at Calder Security are members of the Master Locksmith Association (MLA) since 1976 and can work on a wide range of locking mechanisms.

We are specialists in wooden, UPVC, and aluminium doors and the official suppliers for leading lock brands including Chubb, Yale, Securikey, and Garrison.

Our team of experienced professionals can advise on the best types of locks and whether you need lock replacement or rekeying for your home or business.

In addition to installation services, our professional locksmiths also offer repairing services for when the locks become damaged or develop faults and may not require changing.

Our qualified locksmiths have an in-depth knowledge of all kinds of locks and can often repair them on site. We can also access locks that have become jammed, including safes, and can respond to your calls quickly which can be very useful if you’ve locked yourself out.

We also offer expert key cutting services from our Lock & Safe Shop in Wakefield where you can get your keys cut while you wait.

Using our state-of-the-art digital equipment, we can cut virtually any key including cylinder keys, mortice keys, dimple keys, Mul-T-Lock keys, padlock keys, locker keys, and safe keys to a high degree of accuracy without having to send them away to be cut.

Contact us here or call us on 0800 612 9799 to talk to our professional locksmiths right away!

Photo by iMattSmart on Unsplash