How To Rekey Locks And When You Should

There’s something about locks and keys that is fascinating. There are countless songs and movies named after the set and with good reason. The two are a pair, for one, and one wouldn’t have a purpose without the other.

What Is Rekeying

But the process of unlocking a door with a key is also interesting. Without a locksmith to the ability to unlock a door by lockpicking, the door won’t open without the key. But what happens when you want to change the lock? 

What Is Rekeying?

Although there are different types of locks out there, the most common is the pin and tumbler lock. This type of lock works by having different pins, inside of a tumbler, which are different lengths and sometimes thicknesses.  

Sometimes, like when you move to a new house, you want to change the lock. But sometimes, all you need to do is change the keying process. This is a security reason more than anything else and is a common choice.

In order to rekey locks, you need to remove the pins and replace them. You need to replace them with ones that match your new key or else you too will be locked out of your home. So learning this step by step is important. 

How To Rekey Locks

What Is Rekeying

Although there are many different types of locks, today we’re going to talk about rekeying a pin and tumbler lock. This is the most common and one of the easiest types of locks to rekey aside from old-school locks.

But before you begin, you’ll need to purchase a rekey kit for the brand of lock you have. Not all brands have a rekey kit so you may have to go universal or scrap the lock and get a new one that does have compatible rekey kits for the future. 

Step 1: Remove The Doorknob

The first step in the rekeying process is to remove the doorknob from the door. The process for removing the doorknob isn’t always the same, so you’ll need to check with the manufacturer or find the guide that came with the doorknob.

Sometimes, it involved turning the doorknob one way and turning the key the other way. But this process varies so much that there isn’t a universal way to remove a doorknob. You may even need a special tool. 

Step 2: Remove the Cylinder

Now that the doorknob has been removed, you can remove the cylinder from the inside. It’s fairly easy to remove the cylinder. It should just pop out of the back when pushed from the other side, but there may be a cap.

If there is a cap then you will need to pop off the cap first by unscrewing it or using the manufacturer’s tool. Then the cylinder will pop out the back with a little pressure. Then you simply remove the C-clip holding the cylinder in place.

Step 3: Attach The Key Plug

The first thing that you will need to remove after the cylinder is the key plug. You can use the tube included in the rekeying kit to do this. Attach it to the back of the cylinder and insert the key in the lock.

With this, you can push the cylinder plug out which will give you access to the pins that will soon be replaced. When you do have access, you can remove the pins by turning the lock over, using your fingers to remove any stubborn ones.

Step 4: Insert New Pieces

Now you can put the new key in the lock and place new pins inside. Make sure you follow the instructions very carefully because this is a time when messing up isn’t quite as forgiving as before when you were taking the lock apart. 

Replace the plug into the cylinder, push out the plug follower, and ensure that the key will turn. Then remove the follower and replace the C-clip. It should satisfying snap into place, letting you know you’ve done it right. 

Step 5: Put Doorknob Back

Now try the lock one more time and then install the doorknob. After it is reassembled, you should test out the lock before closing the door. Then test it out again after you close the door, making sure someone stays on the inside.

If you don’t have two people, find someone you trust to help you out. It’s important to keep someone on the side of the door that can be manually unlocked or else you may find yourself locked outside and needing a locksmith! 

How To Rekey Deadbolt Locks

How To Rekey Deadbolt Locks

Some locks, like deadbolts, are a little more difficult to rekey, but they can still be done. You just need to get the right kit. If you want to replace the deadbolt altogether then that’ si okay too, even if you rekey the other lock. 

If you do rekey the deadbolt, you need to make sure the bolt is all the way out before you remove the screws holding the deadbolt to the door. Then you remove the cylinder as usual and take out the retainer pin.

Most deadbolt keys work the same as other keys so replacing them is just as easy. It is simply removing the casing that is difficult if you don’t know how. Do it slowly and always have someone on hand to help out.

Types Of Locks

Types Of Locks

There are many different types of locks with many different uses. Some are used for security reasons and others are used for privacy reasons. All are useful and can be used in your home or outdoor buildings. 


Deadbolt locks are made for external doors to prevent predators and burglars from entering your home. There are single, double, and lockable thumb-turn deadbolts available, all with different security levels.

Single-cylinder deadbolts are the most common. The inside is of course a thumb turn with the outside being a key lock. A more secure version involves a double key lock which means you need a key on the inside and outside.

Knob Locks

Knob locks are often used paired with deadbolts for a simpler type of security. They don’t offer much security at all because they are easy to remove from the outside if someone wants to break in. So deadbolts are the security part of the locks.

This is because the lock is inside the doorknob instead of the door itself. So it is easy to break off and once it is broken off then the door can be opened. That’s why they are paired with the deadbolt or used on interior doors. 

Lever Handle Locks

Lever locks are often used because they’re easy to use. They can turn easily, making them perfect for privacy in public spaces, such as public restrooms. They also shouldn’t be used as the only means for security. 

Cam Locks

Cam locks are used most commonly for objects or boxes rather than houses. The locking mechanism works by turning a tailpiece that closes over the end of the inside of the rim. They come in a variety of security options. 

Mortise Locks

Mortise locks are all but extinct in newer buildings due to the invention of cylinder locks. This type of lock requires a pocket to be cut into the edge of the door for the lock to fit into. They aren’t as secure as newer locks. 

Euro Thumbturn Cylinder

As expected, the Euro Thumbturn lock is very common in Europe and other parts of the world. In America, we usually see them on sliding glass doors. They aren’t extremely secure due to them being able to break off easily. 

Key Deposit Lock

These locks are mounted on the wall and are most often used for keys, ironically. They are often found in firehouses and on wall-mounted boxes used for mail or other types of items often stored in wall-mounted boxes. 

Interchangeable Core Cylinder

Also called an IC lock, the Interchangeable Core Cylinders are often used simply because they are easy to rekey. These easy to rekey locks have two types of keys that work for them, making them quite universal. 

Jimmy Proof Deadbolts

This may be the most secure type of lock you can get. The lock’s position on the surface of the door gives it a resistance to jimmying. Jimmying is the process of lockpicking used to unlock doors without a key. 

Should I Rekey My Lock?

If you are wondering whether you should rekey your lock or replace it, then you are not alone. Most people come to this point and with good reason too. Rekeying can be a process and isn’t always worth it. 

To find out if it is worth it think about two things. Is the lock you have expensive and do you love it? If the lock is rare, expensive, and you love it, then go ahead and rekey it instead of replacing it with a new lock.

But if the lock is just like any other lock and you don’t love it, then buy a new lock. New locks and new doorknobs aren’t all that expensive. It can even be fun to pick out a new doorknob and deadbolt for your new home!