The Process of Rekeying a Lock Explained

Rekeying a Lock

Locks play a pivotal role in protecting our homes and possessions, providing a sense of security and peace of mind. However, situations may arise where you need to change the key that operates a lock without replacing the entire locking mechanism. This is where the concept of Rekeying a Lock comes into play.

In this article, we’ll explore the world of rekeying locks. We’ll explain the process and highlight its importance. Whether you’ve recently moved into a new home, want to enhance security, or simply aim to master a valuable skill, understanding rekeying can be a significant asset. Join us on this journey of discovery as we learn how rekeying locks can provide practical solutions for various security cases.

Understanding Rekeying  

Before delving into the details of rekeying locks, it’s necessary to grasp the basic concept. At its core, rekeying is a locksmithing process that changing the lock’s internal components to render the existing keys useless while introducing new keys that operate the lock.

Put simply, rekeying provides a way to change the key that opens a lock without having to replace the entire lock itself. This procedure allows you to maintain the security of your property while providing you the ease of a new key.

Rekeying is a useful skill that allows you to deal with security matters, such as moving into a new home, protecting lock reliability, or controlling access. In the following sections, we’ll explore when and why rekeying is needed. We’ll also walk you through a step-by-step process for this lock change.

When Is Rekeying Necessary?

Rekeying a lock becomes necessary in several situations, each revolving around the need for improved security or ease. Here are common situations where you might consider rekeying:

Moving to a New Home:

When you move into a new residence, it’s impossible to know who may have copies of the existing keys. Rekeying the locks ensures that you have exclusive access and peace of mind.

Lost, Stolen, or Unreturned Keys:

If you’ve lost your keys, had them stolen, or suspect someone hasn’t returned a borrowed key, rekeying is a prudent step to maintain security.

Tenant Changes:

For property owners or property managers, rekeying locks between tenants is important to ensure the safety and privacy of both the previous and new people.

Security Upgrades:

When you want to enhance the security of your property, rekeying allows you to incorporate high-security lock cylinders or electronic components without replacing the entire lock.

Key Control:

Rekeying enables you to maintain better control over who has access to your property. For instance, you can rekey locks when employees leave your business to prevent unauthorized entry.


Rekeying offers a way to customize your locks to a specific key. This creates a smooth and easy keying system for your property. Consequently, it allows you to enhance security and simplify access management effectively.

By recognizing these scenarios, you can assess when rekeying is necessary to bolster security, enhance access control, and ensure the peace of mind that comes with knowing your property is secure.

The Tools and Supplies You’ll Need

Before Starting on the rekeying process, it’s important to gather the necessary tools and supplies to ensure a smooth and successful operation. Here’s a list of the items you’ll require:

Keying Kit:

Invest in a quality keying kit that includes various pins, springs, and tools needed for rekeying. These kits are available at hardware stores and locksmith supply shops.


You’ll need both Phillips and flathead screwdrivers for removing lock cylinders and accessing the lock’s interior.

Plug Follower:

A plug follower is a tube-like tool used to remove the lock plug once it’s been removed. It helps prevent the pins from falling out during the process.

Tweezers or Needle-Nose Pliers:

These tools are handy for precisely controlling pins and springs inside the lock.

New Key Blanks:

To rekey the lock, you’ll need the new key blanks that you want to use. Additionally, ensure they are of the correct type and size for your lock. This is an important initial step to guarantee a successful rekeying process, as the right key blanks are important for compatibility.

Workbench or Vise:

Having a stable and secure work surface is important for precise rekeying.

Pinning Mat or Tray:

To maintain organization and precision, it’s advisable to use a pinning mat or tray to carefully organize and sort the pins, springs, and other small components. By following this systematic approach diligently, you’ll ensure a streamlined rekeying process. This method enhances efficiency and accuracy, reducing the likelihood of errors and helping to a smooth rekeying experience.

Cylinder Removal Tool:

Some locks may require a specific cylinder removal tool to extract the lock core from the door.

Replacement Springs:

In case any springs are damaged or worn during the process, it’s a good idea to have replacement springs on hand.

Graph Paper and Clipboards:

These can be helpful for creating pinning charts and keeping track of the pinning process.


A lock lubricant can be applied to the lock’s interior for smooth operation after rekeying.

Safety Glasses:

Safety should always come first. Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes during the rekeying process.

Instruction Manual:

If you have a specific lock brand or model, refer to the manufacturer’s instruction manual for guidance.

Before you begin rekeying, ensure that you have all these tools and supplies at your disposal. Having the right equipment will make the process more efficient and help you achieve the desired results.

Step-by-Step Guide to Rekeying a Lock

Rekeying a lock may seem daunting at first, but with the right tools and guidance, it’s a manageable DIY task. Here’s a step-by-step guide to rekeying a lock:


Before you start, always ensure your safety glasses are on, and work in a well-lit and organized workspace.

Gather Supplies:

As mentioned earlier, gather all the necessary tools and supplies. Ensure you have the correct key blanks for the lock you are rekeying.

Remove the Lock Cylinder:

Insert the current key and turn it 90 degrees to the left or right to remove the lock cylinder from the door. If your lock has a retaining screw, use a screwdriver to remove it before taking out the cylinder.

Take Out the Plug:

Once the lock cylinder is out, use the plug follower to push the plug out of the cylinder housing. Be cautious as this step can cause the pins and springs to fall out.

Dump and Record Pins:

To begin, empty the pins and springs into a pinning tray or mat. Afterward, use tweezers or needle-nose pliers to carefully organize and record the pin lengths for each chamber. Next, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions or a pinning chart to find the correct pin lengths for your new key. It’s essential to perform these steps methodically to ensure the accuracy of your rekeying process. Moreover, this meticulous approach will contribute to the overall success of your lock rekeying project.

Insert New Key:

Insert the new key into the lock cylinder and make sure it goes all the way in.

Replace Pins:

Using the pin lengths you recorded, first, select the corresponding pins from your keying kit. Then, place these pins in the chambers according to your new key’s specifications.

Reassemble the Lock:

Carefully, slide the plug back into the cylinder housing. Additionally, make sure that the new pins and springs are properly aligned.

Test the Lock:

Insert the key and test the lock multiple times to ensure smooth operation without any sticking or resistance.

Reinstall the Lock:

Place the lock cylinder back into the door, taking care to ensure it lines up correctly with the latch. Moreover, if there was a retaining screw, be sure to reattach it securely. This essential step plays a pivotal role in the proper installation of the lock and guarantees its optimal functionality. By following these instructions diligently, you’ll complete the rekeying process with confidence, ensuring the security and ease of access to your property.

Test the Lock Again:

After reinstalling the lock, test it with the new key one more time to confirm that it works flawlessly.

Lubricate the Lock:

To ensure smooth and trouble-free operation, it’s necessary to apply a small amount of lock lubricant to the key. Subsequently, insert it into the lock a few times to evenly share the lubricant. This simple yet crucial maintenance step aids in preventing sticking and improving the overall performance of the lock. By following these instructions carefully, you’ll prolong the life and functionality of your lock while maintaining the security of your property.

Secure Your New Key:

Safely store your new key and dispose of the old key to prevent any potential security risks.

Congratulations, you’ve successfully rekeyed your lock! This process lets you maintain security while getting a new key for your lock, whether you’re moving into a new home or updating your access control.

Tips and Tricks for a Smooth Rekeying

Rekeying a lock can be a rewarding DIY project, but it’s important to approach it with care and attention to detail. Here are some tips and tricks to ensure a smooth rekeying process:

Stay Organized:

As a best practice, use a pinning mat or tray to keep track of pins, springs, and other small components. If needed, label the chambers to avoid confusion. This organized approach is instrumental in improving the precision of your rekeying process, making it easier to work with and ensuring accurate results. By maintaining this level of organization, you’ll simplify the task and reduce the likelihood of errors, contributing to a successful rekeying experience. Furthermore, this careful process helps to maintain the security and functionality of your locks, providing you with peace of mind regarding your property’s safety.

Work Methodically:

Take your time and work methodically through each step. Rushing can lead to errors.

Use the Right Tools:

Before you begin, ensure you have the correct tools for the job. These tools include a quality keying kit, screwdrivers, and a plug follower. Properly equipping yourself will set the stage for a successful rekeying process.

Follow Instructions:

If you have access to manufacturer instructions for your lock, follow them closely for specific guidance.

Double-Check Pin Lengths:

Verify the pin lengths for each chamber before inserting them. Mismatched pins can result in a lock that doesn’t work correctly.

Test Thoroughly:

Test the lock multiple times with the new key to ensure smooth operation. In doing so, address any sticking or resistance immediately. This initiative approach will help you identify and resolve any issues promptly, ensuring the lock functions optimally.

Lubricate Properly:

To prevent too much, apply lock using oil, as excessive use can attract debris. Furthermore, it’s crucial to grease the lock after reassembly, which will help maintain the lock’s performance and prevent potential issues. By following these steps diligently, you’ll ensure the long-term smooth operation of your lock and minimize the risk of complications.

Inspect for Loose Pins:

After rekeying, double-check that no pins or springs are loose or improperly seated.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid these common mistakes that can hinder a successful rekeying:

Mixing Up Pins:

Additionally, it’s important to keep pins organized and separate. Mixing up pin lengths or types can cause the lock to failure. To detailed, misplacing or confusing pins during the rekeying process can lead to functional issues and potential security concerns. By following to very careful organization, you’ll ensure a smooth experience throughout your rekeying project, maintaining the honesty and reliability of your locks.

Skipping Pin Check:

Don’t assume that the pins are correct; always double-check their lengths before installation.

Forgetting Key Insertion:

Ensure the new key is inserted fully during pin placement. Partial insertion can lead to keying errors.


Moreover, applying too much lubricant can attract dust and debris, potentially affecting the lock’s performance. It’s important to use lubricant sparingly to prevent these issues.

Neglecting Testing:

Failure to thoroughly test the lock can lead to unexpected issues. For example, a key that doesn’t turn smoothly may occur. It’s crucial to avoid these potential problems by thoroughly doing testing.


Disorganised workspaces can lead to misplaced parts or tools, causing unnecessary delays.

By following these tips, while avoiding common mistakes, you can successfully complete the rekeying process. This enhances your property’s security and provides peace of mind.


In summary, rekeying a lock is a useful skill that lets you maintain security while allowing authorized individuals to access. By following the step-by-step guide, tips, and tricks provided in this article, you can confidently handle rekeying tasks for your home or business.

Make sure to work in an organized manner. Check your work at each stage to ensure a smooth and successful rekeying process. Additionally, avoid common errors, such as mixing up pins or using too much lubrication, to prevent problems in the future.

With the right tools, knowledge, and attention to detail, you can effectively rekey locks. This process improving security and provides better control over property access while also being affordable.

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