How to Rekey a Lock


You should update or rekey your locks to improve the security of your home. Find out when the optimum time is to do either, as well as how to rekey a lock.

You’ve just purchased a new home and are concerned about how many keys the previous owner may have left lying around. Maybe you’re weary of carrying around a bunch of keys in your pocket or handbag and just want one key to open all of your doors. Both of these are compelling reasons to rekey your home’s locks. And you might be astonished to learn how simple it is.

How a Lock Operates

Understanding how locks work is helpful before rekeying a lock. A pin and tumbler lock is the most common type of lock found on doorknobs and deadbolts. It has a cylindrical plug with a series of pins and springs inside it. The pins are different lengths to allow a key with a specified cut form to insert and turn the lock. The length of the pins must match the depth of the grooves in the key for this to operate.

To use a different key with a lock, disassemble it, remove the pins, and replace them with ones that match the cuts in the key you want to use. Let’s have a look at how to do it.

Rekeying a Lock is a simple procedure

Rekeying a classic pin and tumbler lock isn’t as complicated as it may appear. You’ll need to buy a rekey kit for the lock brand you have first. A collection of different sized pins and various tools to aid in the removal of the lock should be included in the kit.

Step 1: Remove the doorknob

The doorknob must first be removed from the door. To do so, either turn the knob counterclockwise and hold it or insert the key and turn it a quarter turn to the right to line the holes in the cylinder. (This step will differ depending on the maker.)

Insert the removal tool into the holes, press down, and pop the knob off the shank, separating it from the shank.

Step 2: Remove the Cylinder

After you’ve removed the knob, you’ll need to remove out the cylinder from the inside. If the back of your knob has a cap, you’ll need to remove it with the right tool. Then, from front to back, push the cylinder free.

Step 3: Remove the C-Clip

Remove the C-clip that is holding the cylinder in place next.

Step 4: Connect the Key Plug

Using the follower tube included in your kit, remove the key plug from its housing. Insert the key into the lock and attach it to the back of the cylinder.

Some locks will require a 45-degree spin of the key. Push the cylinder plug out of the cylinder, leaving the plug follower inside the housing to secure the pins and springs.

Step 5: Throw Away the Old Pins

Remove the pins from the plug. Remove the old key and insert it with the new key.

Insert New Pins in Step 6

Replace the pins as directed in the kit’s instructions. Make sure they’re flush against the plug’s top.

Step 7: Take out the plug and replace it.

Replace the plug in the cylinder, gradually removing the plug follower. After you’ve inserted the key, ensure sure it turns. Replace the C-clip until it snaps into place, then remove the follower.

Step 8: Replace the knob on the door.

Reattach the knob to the door by reinserting the cylinder into the knob.

Step 9: Put the Lock to the Test

Test the lock after everything has been reassembled and feels secure.

Rekeying a Deadbolt Lock

If your entry doorknob and deadbolt use the same brand of key, you can rekey them. Remove the deadbolt from the door and repin it like a doorknob to rekey it.

  • Remove the screws that hold the deadbolt to the door after ensuring the bolt is out.
  • Remove the endcap from the cylinder and the cylinder from the housing. The retainer pin should be removed.
  • Repin the cylinder into the housing, replace the retainer pin and endcap, and reattach it to the housing as you would with a doorknob.
  • Reattach the lock to the door after double-checking that the bolt is out.

When to Replace Rather Than Rekey Your Door Locks

Perhaps you’re undecided about whether to rekey or replace your locks. In a few cases, replacing them is the best alternative.

  • You won’t be able to rekey the lock if you’ve misplaced your key and don’t have a spare, and the knob is locked. You’ll have to get a new one.
  • You’re performing some remodeling work that entails replacing doors, and you’d like to go with a more modern look. That would necessitate the replacement of your locks.
  • Rekeying locks that are worn or damaged will not help. It’s past time to replace the locks.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable rekeying your lock and can’t find someone to help you, you’ll have to replace it.
  • To rekey locks to use the same key, they must all be made by the same company. Because each manufacturer’s locks have distinct size holes that will only accept their own keys, you can’t rekey a Kwikset lock to use a Schlage key. If your doors all have various brands of locks, choose one to match, replace the others, and then rekey them.