Find out how to Rekey a Door Lock

Whether or not you simply purchased a brand new house and need to change the locks or wish to scale back some muddle in your key-chain by matching all of your locks to a single key, realizing learn how to rekey a lock your self is a useful talent to have.

With out this data, you’re just about caught shopping for these bulk instances of equally keyed locks (that are sometimes fairly junky locks) or using a locksmith to rekey your locks.

However if you wish to take the trail much less traveled and rekey your locks your self, this information will maintain your hand each step of the way in which and can work with quite a lot of cylinder locks, together with Schlage, Kwikset, Baldwin, Yale, Corbin Russwin, and others!

Rekeying locks is fairly straightforward; nonetheless, count on to spend about 10 to fifteen minutes per lock and about $30 to $50 for a rekey equipment. 

With that, let’s get to it!

How Rekeying a Lock Works

Nearly all of locks discovered on doorknobs and deadbolts are pin tumbler locks. These varieties of locks make the most of a collection of pins referred to as key pins (high pins) and driver pins (backside pins).

Driver pins are the topmost pins and are all the identical size. Their duty is to carry the lock shut when the proper key isn’t current.

Nonetheless, the key pins are quite a lot of lengths and might be regarded as the mix of the lock. This mix known as the lock’s bitting.

When the proper key with the proper cuts is inserted into the lock, the important thing pins will rise to the identical stage and push the driving force pins out of the lock’s core, permitting it to rotate and for the lock to open. To solidify this idea, try the animation of a key coming into a lock beneath.

Now, this can be a mile-high description of how these locks work and if you need to be taught extra, try my information on how the pin tumbler lock works. Nonetheless, for the aim of rekeying, that is all you really want to know.

how a lock and key work Animation

To rekey a lock, all we have to do is swap out the underside pins (key pins) with people who match the cuts of a special key—primarily altering the bitting of the lock to match the cuts of your new key.

In any other case mentioned, rekeying is nothing greater than altering the mix of your lock.

Moreover, these totally different size key pins are standardized by producers with a selected coding representing size. For instance, Schlage locks have backside pins coded between 0 and 9, 0 being the shortest at 0.165″ and 9 being the longest at 0.300″.

key cuts labeled

Completely different lock producers have totally different pinning requirements for his or her locks, which is why it is essential to get the proper rekeying equipment in your particular lock. We’ll speak extra about this in a second!

Decide What Locks You Need to Rekey

Earlier than you may start rekeying your locks, you first have to determine which locks you need to repin and if they’re appropriate with the identical key.

Sadly rekeying locks is not so simple as matching any lock to a single key.

Completely different makes and fashions of locks use totally different keyways and keys. For instance, a Kwikset key won’t match into the keyway of a Schlage lock.

Moreover, totally different lock producers use numerous sized pins (size and width) and have various key bitting specs.

As an example this, take a look at the distinction between the heights of Schlage key pins vs. Kwikset key pins.

Pin Measurement Schlage Kwikset
0 0.165 “
1 0.180″ 0.171″
2 0.195″ 0.195″
3 0.210″ 0.219″
4 0.225″ 0.240″
5 0.240″ 0.264″
6 0.255″ 0.288″
7 0.270″
8 0.285″
9 0.300″

So in case you have Schlage in your entrance door and a Kwikset in your storage door, you’ll both have to exchange one of many locks with an identical model or proceed to make use of two totally different keys.

Nonetheless, even when utilizing the identical model for all of your locks, you may additionally need to confirm that the locks use comparable keyways.

This will simply be examined by totally inserting your required key into all of the locks. If the important thing goes in, it matches the keyway, and that lock might be rekeyed to that particular key.

Be aware that the important thing would not must open the lock, simply match into the keyway.

Now that we perceive precisely what locks we need to rekey let us take a look at the instruments and tools required!

Instruments Required

Alright, so let’s bounce into the instruments and tools you have to to start rekeying your individual locks!


  • Rekeying equipment
  • Tweezers
  • Plug follower
  • Screwdriver


Let’s bounce into a number of of those in additional element.

Rekeying Equipment

First, and most significantly, you have to a rekey equipment in your particular lock model. These kits include every dimension backside pin and can will let you rekey a great variety of locks!

I extremely suggest the next kits for Kwikset, and Schlage locks as they’re half the value of different arduous case units and include two extra instruments, a key gauge and plug follower—each of which can make your life simpler!


Lock elements are small and very troublesome to exchange utilizing your fingers.

Whereas common family tweezers will work simply high quality, pinning tweezers are explicitly made for keying locks and have a niche that permits them to suit snugly round pins and grasp them firmly.

Frequently dropping pins is a irritating expertise, so in case you have a variety of locks to rekey, I might extremely suggest choosing some up. My go-to are Peterson’s pinning tweezers.

Plug Follower

A plug follower is used to push the plug out of the lock whereas on the identical time holding the springs and driver pins within the higher lock cylinder. They’re a useful software to have, and repinning locks with out them isn’t any straightforward activity—so I extremely suggest choosing some up!

In case you purchase one of many rekeying units I’ve beneficial above, they arrive with a follower. Nonetheless, for those who obtained with one other rekey set, HPC has a pleasant set right here.

Alternatively, you need to use a ratchet socket of the proper dimension.

Find out how to Decide Your Lock’s Bitting

lock's bitting with pins

Step one in repinning your lock is to find out its bitting.

This may be completed in numerous methods, however we’ll cowl the 2 widespread and simple strategies right here.

Methodology 1: Use a Key Gauge

A key gauge is a fast and simple strategy to decide the bitting of your lock by measuring the depth of cuts in your key. They price about $15, and you will want to purchase one which measures your specific lock’s model. So if you’re rekeying a  Schlage, you may want a key gauge that measures a Schlage.

To make use of a key gauge, insert your key into the slot, and beginning with the primary minimize in your key, slide your key down the gauge till it stops. The quantity that your key stops on is that minimize’s pin dimension!

For instance, within the picture beneath, I discovered that the primary minimize of my key was 3 after which used my gauge to find out my Schlage key had a bitting of 3-4-2-6-2.

key gauge example

Now by realizing your bitting code, you may rapidly change pins in your new locks with none guesswork, and for those who ever lose your key, you may simply get a brand new one comprised of this code!

In case you are keen on a key gauge and are keying a Schlage, Kwikset, Weiser, or Weslock lock, I extremely suggest the Professional Lock KD01. In case you have one other lock model, you may sometimes discover a extensive number of gauges right here.

Methodology 2: Use the Key as a Information

In case you do not need to splurge for a key gauge, you too can use the important thing that you simply want to repin your lock to as a information.

Whenever you change the pins into the lock, you may insert the important thing to confirm their heights. If the pins are flush with the plug—like within the picture beneath— they match the cuts of the important thing and are the proper dimension.

use the key as a guide

Nonetheless, if the pins extrude from the pin chamber, they’re too massive, and if they do not fairly attain the highest, they’re too small.

It is good follow to verify your pin heights when putting in new pins anyhow, and we’ll cowl this in additional element within the steps beneath.

Find out how to Rekey a Lock

Alright, with all of the prerequisite info out of the way in which, let’s bounce into the steps of rekeying a doorknob lock.

To take away the lock cylinder from the lock, you have to the unique key of the lock you want to rekey.

In case you have misplaced the unique key, you may both have to get a brand new one made or change the lock solely.

Step 1: Take away the Knob

rekey doorknob step 1

Step one is to take away the knob and lock cylinder from the doorknob meeting. In case you are rekeying a lock already put in on a door, you may rekey it with out eradicating your complete meeting from the door.

Begin by inserting your unique key into the lock and turning the important thing 90 levels in the direction of the slot on the doorknob (as illustrated above). On some locks, this slot is a gap, whereas on others it’s a slit minimize with an uncovered steel clip.

Utilizing a screwdriver, paperclip, or one other pointy object, press in on the clip and pull the knob off the door.

If the clip doesn’t depress, the important thing has not been rotated to the proper place. Attempt turning it within the different path.

Step 2: Take away the Lock Cylinder from the Knob

rekey doorknob step 2

Subsequent, we have to take away the lock cylinder from the deal with.

Start by rotating the important thing 90 levels in the other way that you simply did in the 1st step, after which take away the important thing from the cylinder. In case you’re having points eradicating the important thing, be sure that the secret’s vertical to the slot that we compressed in step 1.

As soon as the secret’s eliminated, take away the lock cylinder from the deal with.

Some locks have a spring-loaded chamber (like within the picture above) that must be compressed with a small flathead screwdriver with a view to take it out of the deal with.

Step 3: Take away the Cylinder Retaining Clip

rekey doorknob step 3

After you have your lock cylinder faraway from the deal with, flip it round and take away the retaining clip from the again.

Most locks will use a C-clip which may simply be eliminated utilizing a clip removing software. Nonetheless, a screwdriver and just a little elbow grease will work too.

Step 4: Take away the Plug from the Cylinder

rekey doorknob step 4

Now it is time to take away the plug, which incorporates our key pins!

To take away the plug from the cylinder, insert the previous key and rotate it 45 levels left or proper.

Utilizing a plug follower—or alternatively, a ratchet socket that matches comfortable within the plug—push the plug out of the cylinder, guaranteeing that it stays tight towards the plug your complete manner out. Additionally, make certain to not rotate your plug and dump your key pins all around the ground.

Take issues sluggish and do not pressure something throughout this step as any mishaps may trigger pins to drop out of the cylinder.

As soon as the plug has been eliminated, DO NOT take away the follower from the cylinder. On the present second, it’s conserving the highest pins and comes inside their chambers. In case you do take away it, pins and comes will fall out and make your job just a little more difficult.

If issues do go fallacious throughout this step and pins or springs do fall out, it isn’t the top of the world. Compress your springs and high pins again into their chambers and insert your plug follower to maintain them in place.

Step 5: Take away Outdated Pins from Plug

rekey doorknob step 5

As soon as the plug has been solely eliminated, you may dump the previous pins out of their chambers and take away the unique key.

Step 6: Insert New Pins into the Plug

rekey doorknob step 6

It is lastly time to replace these previous pins with new ones.

You will want:

  • Pinning equipment
  • Tweezers
  • The brand new key you need to repin the lock to
  • (Non-compulsory) The bitting code of your new key from a key gauge

You do not want the bitting code, nevertheless it does make issues loads simpler as you already know precisely what sized pins to place into every chamber. In my earlier instance, I decided my key bitting was 3-4-2-6-2. The primary pin is the slot closest to the top of the important thing, whereas the final pin is the furthest.

Within the instance picture above, I put the next sized pins in every pin chamber from left to proper.

Chamber Pin Measurement
1 3
2 4
3 2
4 6
5 2

If you do not have a key gauge and do not know what pin sizes to make use of, right here is a straightforward trick!

Insert the important thing that you simply need to reprogram the lock to. Start inserting random pins into every slot and take a look at their heights.

rekey doorknob step 7

If the pin sits flush with the highest of the plug (like within the illustration above), they’re the proper dimension for that key.

Nonetheless, if the pins extrude from the plug chamber, they’re too lengthy. Conversely, if the pins do not attain the highest of the pin chamber, they’re too brief.

Step 7: Reassemble the Lock

rekey doorknob step 8

As soon as you have changed all of the pins and have verified utilizing the important thing that they’re the proper heights, it’s time to reassemble the lock!

With the important thing nonetheless within the lock, start by reinserting the plug again into the cylinder and use it to slowly push the plug follower out of the cylinder.

As soon as the plug is within the cylinder, confirm that the important thing turns easily, put the retaining ring again on, and take away the important thing.

Insert the lock cylinder again into the knob after which reinsert the important thing. Flip the important thing in the direction of the push slot after which slide the knob again onto the remainder of the meeting.

That is it! Your doorknob has been rekeyed! For any extra doorknobs, repeat the above steps.

Find out how to Rekey a Deadbolt

If you want to rekey your deadbolt to match your doorknob, you may rapidly rekey it in about 5 minutes!

To rekey a deadbolt, start by eradicating it from the door, then separate the lock cylinder from the remainder of the deadbolt.

As soon as the lock cylinder is out, you may rekey it identical to you’ll a doorknob. Click on right here to leap as much as these steps.

Be aware there may be one important distinction between a deadbolt and a doorknob. Whereas doorknobs sometimes use retaining clips, corresponding to C-clips, deadbolts sometimes use retaining caps. Let’s rapidly take a look at learn how to take these off!

Find out how to Take away a Retaining Cap

deadbolt cylinder explode

To take away the retaining cap, push in on the retaining pin with a small screwdriver and twist off the retaining cap. Attempt pushing it in from an angle to keep away from the retaining cap from catching in your screwdriver.

As soon as indifferent, take away the retaining pin and its spring from the lock cylinder and put them in a secure place—do not forget this step!!

When to Change Your Door Locks Relatively Than Rekey?

You’ve gotten two choices once you need to change your locks, rekey them or change them. However which route must you take?

If you wish to avoid wasting cash, rekeying your locks is the way in which to go. Nonetheless, there are a number of conditions the place changing them is a greater possibility.

  • If you wish to rekey your locks to a single key, you may want locks from the identical producer. For instance, Schlage and Kwikset locks have totally different keyways and use totally different type keys. So in case you have doorways with locks from totally different manufacturers, you may want to select a model and change the others.
  • In case you’ve misplaced your solely key to a specific lock, you will not be capable to rekey it. You are solely choices are to exchange the lock, have a locksmith decode your lock and make you a brand new key, or decode the lock your self!
  • Changing locks can be excellent for those who do not need to take care of the effort of rekeying your individual locks or the price of hiring a locksmith.

How A lot Does a Locksmith Cost to Rekey a Lock?

In 2022 the common price in the US to rent a locksmith is $95. Moreover, the common worth for a locksmith to rekey a lock is $20 and may run upward of $50 for extra advanced locks.

By that common, you’ll pay round $215 to have a locksmith rekey six locks. Nonetheless, your price might be roughly relying on the place you reside and who you rent.

If you wish to save some huge cash, you too can convey your locks on to a locksmith’s store. You will not must pay the journey cost, and sometimes rekeys price much less in-house. However, this won’t be a viable possibility if the locks are already put in.

Closing Ideas

At first look, rekeying a lock might seem to be an advanced and time-consuming activity, however I hope this information satisfied you in any other case!

Studying learn how to rekey a lock your self can prevent cash for years to come back and solely requires a small upfront price for a rekeying equipment that can be utilized on dozens of future locks.

In case you preferred this information and want to be taught extra about lock choosing, house safety, or locksmithing, you should definitely try my Academy for extra free guides.

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