How To Drill Out A Tubular Lock

Do you have a tubular lock that you can't open because you've lost the key? You can drill out the lock to access what's inside. Allow us to share with you this helpful method that we've learned from the experts so you can open your lock.

To drill out a tubular lock, you have to:

  1. Prepare your power drill and 1/8-inch and 1/4-inch drill bits.
  2. Drill a hole at the center of the lock using the smaller drill bit.
  3. Drill through the same hole using the larger drill bit to open the lock.

Keep reading so we can share more tips on how to get this job done efficiently. We'll also tell you how tubular locks work, if they are similar to pin tumbler locks, if their keys are universal, and if they are easy to pick. Let's start drilling!

Assembling furniture with using tools and drilling out for tubular lock, How To Drill Out A Tubular Lock

How do you break a tubular lock?

You may have a safe box at home that makes use of a tubular lock. Since you don't use it often, you may have already forgotten where the keys are. If you really need to get the items inside the box and don't know how to pick this kind of lock, here's something that you can do.

You can drill out the tubular lock to open the box. With the right tools, it'll only take you less than 10 minutes to get the job done. Let us teach you how to do it properly and safely.

Tools and Materials Needed

  • power drill
  • drill bits (use 1/8-inch and 1/4-inch sizes)
  • safety goggles
  • ruler
  • masking tape
  • flathead screwdriver


  1. Use a ruler to measure 1/4-inch from the tip of each drill bit. Mark the spot with a masking tape. This will be your guide once you start drilling on the lock. With a depth of 1/4-inch, you won't cause too much damage on the other components of the box or machine that's being secured by the tubular lock.
  2. Wear your safety goggles before you start drilling.
  3. Use the smaller drill bit first to drill a hole at the center of the lock. Don't go beyond the 1/4-inch mark.
  4. Use the larger drill bit to bore a second hole through the initial hole that you made. Once you reach the 1/4-inch mark, it should be able to open the tubular lock.
  5. If you still cannot open the lock, you can drill another 1/8-inch and use your flathead screwdriver to remove the lock from its casing.

That's how you do it! Needless to say, you would need to replace the lock that you just destroyed if you want to use the safe box again.

Are tubular locks easy to pick?

Depending on how you look at it, lockpicking may be a blessing or a curse. On the bright side, it allows you to open a lock when you don't have your key with you.

On the other hand, when someone with criminal intentions knows how to pick your lock, then you're in danger. Just imagine, they don't need a key to gain access to your home or property. This underscores the importance of choosing locks that are difficult to pick.

Because of their different style or maybe because tubular locks are often used on safe boxes and vending machines, many people have this notion that tubular locks are safer to use and would be resistant to lockpicking than the common keyed locks that we're used to seeing and using.

Let us set this straight.

Tubular locks are used on safe boxes and different machines, not because they are safer than standard locks, but because they require minimal depth requirement upon installation. You cannot go too deep into a vending machine to install a deadbolt, right?

More importantly, these locks aren't pick-resistant. Some lock experts even say that tubular locks are one of the easiest and quickest locks that you can pick. Among the methods that you can try are using a ballpoint pen, a tubular lock pick, or a power driller.

Use the pen or lock pick to move the pins and internal components of the tubular lock to be able to unlock it. When these methods won't work, you can drill through the center of the lock.

Of course, not all tubular locks are the same. Some manufacturers have enhanced their safety features by using springs that have different strengths. The middle portion of some tubular locks may contain a ball bearing or they may be made of hardened steel to make prevent drilling.

So, it's probably safe to say that the tubular locks used on bank ATMs are more secure than the ones that you see in your favorite gumball machine.

Find this lock pick on Amazon.

Are tubular lock keys universal?

The idea behind a universal key is that it can open any lock that it can fit into eliminating the need to use different keys on different locks.

However, there is no such thing as a universal tubular lock key. For security purposes, each lock comes with its own key code and there can be six to ten pin combinations to unlock it. A lock can only be opened when the key is compatible with it, meaning it comes with the correct key code that's needed to unlock it.

There are instances when business owners who order multiple machines may request that their locks be keyed alike. This will allow them to use one key to have access to all of those machines.

If ever you lose your tubular lock key, you can ask for a replacement key from the machine's manufacturer. You need to provide the model number as well as the key codes found on the lock. But if they can't make one, you may need to destroy the old lock and install a new one altogether.

That's why it is a good idea to make copies of your original key so you always have a backup. You can ask your trusted locksmith to do this. If he has a tubular key cutter, he can easily make a copy of the original key. Each copy would usually cost around $7 to $15.

So take care of your tubular lock keys to avoid any inconvenience and it's always good to keep a spare because these keys are not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing.

How does a tubular lock work?

A tubular lock is also known as a radial lock or circle pin tumbler lock. Its names will give you an idea of how it works.

The key of a tubular lock is cylindrical in shape to fit the circular keyway. There are grooves along the edges of the key and once inserted into the keyway, each of them will be able to push a pin inside the lock vertically so that they'll be positioned in their assigned height.

At the middle of a tubular lock is a solid metal cylinder. Positioned around it are the lock pins. There are six to ten pins in a lock depending on its model. Once the pins are aligned properly, the lock can be opened.

There's a proper way of inserting the key inside the tubular lock. Each notch is designed to fit the corresponding hole in the keyway. The key won't fit into the hole when the notches don't align with it. But once you insert the key properly, it will be able to push the pins and the lock will be open.

Tubular locks are not your ordinary lock and key set. They are used more often in items that don't need to be opened frequently or commercial products. You may see them on safe boxes, jewelry boxes, gumball machines, vending machines, glass display cabinets, and ATMs.

Check out this tubular lock on Amazon.

Are a pin tumbler and tubular lock the same?

The tubular lock is one variety of the pin tumbler lock. Their locking mechanism makes use of pins that are stacked together.

The pins come in different lengths and they can't be opened without the corresponding key. The key will be able to push the pins so that they will be positioned at the right height within their arrangement. Once the pins are all aligned properly, the key will be able to turn the lock freely.

Other kinds of pin tumbler locks are the cylinder lock and dimple lock.

Final Thoughts

Drilling a tubular lock is quite easy if you have the right tools for the job. Make sure you keep your keys and have backup copies so you don't have to go through this length to be able to access your valuable items.

Are Tubular Lock Keys Universal?

Can You Make A Key From A Lock?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *