Lesson 7: Drilling Locks - Part 4

When to Drill and when not to Drill?

You should only be drilling a lock when picking has failed or has been ruled out as an option. Locksmiths should take pride in being able to pick the majority of locks that you come across. Some locks have pick resistant top pins that make picking really difficult, in which case you might want to consider drilling the lock. Other times you will need to drill the lock because the lock is broken or malfunctioning. A broken tailpiece or end-cap will leave the cylinder spinning but it won’t engage the bolt.

As a locksmith you have an obligation to your customer’s security. You should never drill a lock unless you have a replacement lock with you. You greatly risk your customer’s security if you leave them with a drilled out deadbolt on the door.

Do not attempt to reuse a drilled lock. No matter how good a job you did that you must presume that the lock is broken or will break after minimal use. Do not leave your customer with a broken lock on their door. Once you have decided to drill a lock, you have decided to replace that lock.

When using a drill it is important to practice proper work safety procedures. Drilling locks is a loud process and metal filings can shoot anywhere. This is particularly hazardous to your hearing and vision. Always wear safety goggles and earmuffs while the drill is active. The bits are incredibly sharp. Keep your hands, fingers, and other body parts away from a moving bit at all times.

Do not attempt to drill locks while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or prescription medicine.


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