Broken Key Extraction – How to Extract a Broken Key

Breaking a key inside of a lock can be frustrating for any professional locksmith or hobbyist lockpicker. This is especially true when the broken piece remains stuck in the ignition.

To avoid causing further damage to the ignition, it is important to use tools that will not cause more friction. There are a few practical solutions to this problem that are quick and inexpensive.

Professional Tools

If you’re a professional lock picker, law enforcement, security professional or are simply a keen amateur lock picker, having the right tools on hand to tackle broken key extractions is an absolute necessity. The perfect tool for the job is a key extractor set.

Key extractors feature thin metal grips that are designed explicitly to catch and remove broken keys. The best extractors have a spiral type of design that grips a broken key, while others use a hook (like the Peterson hooked key extractor) to dig into and grasp a broken section of a key. Both types of extractors are highly efficient and borderline incorruptible. They’re also very affordable, making them the best solution for a broken key situation. You can find these and other essential lock picking and locksmith tools at LockPickShop online.


While most people keep a pair of tweezers or needle nose pliers in their home and may also have bobby pins, safety pins or a swiss army knife at hand, they are unlikely to be the best tool for extracting a broken key. These items often aren’t sized appropriately to grip the end of a stuck key and can even push it further into the lock.

These tweezers are made in the same factory that produces surgical instruments and offer optimal control and precision. They’re also easy to handle and come with a lifetime free sharpening service. They are more expensive than standard drugstore tweezers, but still significantly less than many other professional-grade models. The only downside is that these tweezers don’t come with a case.

Hacksaw Blade

Many times customers will try to use too much force on their key and end up breaking it in half in the lock. This can turn what should be a relatively simple job into a costly one for you and the customer. It is always best to stress that they do not touch the lock until you arrive on site.

If you don’t have a professional key extractor tool available you can make one yourself out of a mini hacksaw blade or a small drill bit. Just be sure to break the blade or bit down so that the serrations don’t catch on the key. Then side the blade into the lock alongside the broken key part, and slowly begin twisting and leveraging it against the key at different angles.

Paper Clip

Paperclips are a very common office item and they work very well when it comes to extracting broken keys. The thinner paperclips tend to work better and give you a deeper grip on the key. First, slip your paperclip under the bottom of the broken piece and then push downward to leverage it out. If there is enough room, you can also insert the paperclip at the top of the keyway to try and grab the first cut on the key.

You can also use bobby pins in the same way, but make sure they are straight and that they have a decent size to avoid pushing the key further into the lock cylinder. Once you have a good grip, you can pull or jiggle the key until it breaks free from the bind.

Key Extractor

Whether you’re a professional Broken Key Extraction or just want to avoid the frustration that comes with having a key stuck in your lock, you should invest in a key extractor set. These tools, which look similar to a screwdriver, have spiral groves that dig into the broken key and help you leverage it to pull it out of the lock.

For a quick hack, you can even use a small jigsaw blade or hacksaw blade as a key extractor by aligning the serrations with the bitting on your key. With a twist and a pull, your key should come out easily.