How to Break a Lock with a Hammer (4 Steps)

Have you lost or misplaced your lock key and don’t know how to break in? Don’t worry, I can help.

I have used this trick a lot as a handyman, and I will teach you how to do the same in this guide. You might even be able to reuse the lock if all goes well. Applying the right amount of force when tapping can render the lock reusable by minimizing the damage to the pins underneath the lock’s body.

In general, you need to follow these steps to break a lock with a hammer:

  • Fetch a bump hammer, a mallet hammer, or a ball-peen hammer
  • Put on your safety gear/ gloves
  • Pull the hammer shackle by inserting your fingers while avoiding the body of the lock.
  • Tap the side of the lock repeatedly with a hammer to disengage the pins underneath the lock
  • Tap the lock until the lock opens

I will cover more detail in my guide below. Let’s begin.

What You Need

1. Bump Hammer

Get a bump hammer for this job. Bump hammers are designed to bump a lock. They consist of a high-density polymer with a rubber handle.

Regular hammers can damage the lock, not a bump hammer which enforces proportional pressure on the lock. Additionally, they exert a sharp impact which is key to ramping the lock. If you can’t find a bump hammer, use a mallet.

2. Mallet (Option Two)

A mallet is a special hammer that pound objects without inflicting undesirable damage — they have a soft head. Mallets also enable easier and more strategic aim when striking a lock. Mallet hammers are made of wood, rubber, soft metals, plastic, or rawhide.

3. Ball-peen Hammer

If you have neither a mallet nor a bump hammer, then settle on a ball-pen hammer. They have two hammerheads; regular-shaped and round hammerheads. They come in varying sizes; depending on the size of your lock, select an appropriate one. For a small lock, go for size four.

4. Safety Gloves

Get safety gloves with thick fabric (hammer-proof gloves) to protect your hand from a stray hammering. They are reinforced with a thermoplastic layer that sucks up the pressure of a stray hammering. But be extra cautious because only the fingers are safe; the palm is vulnerable.

There are varieties of hammer-proof gloves, leather, and Kevlar gloves. I prefer leather gloves to Kevlar because they have a firmer grip. On the other hand, Kevlar gloves are thicker and can thwart abrasions and cuts. Importantly, ensure your hands fit in the gloves.

How to Break a Lock with a Hammer – Steps

We will only focus on how to use a hammer to break a lock. However, you can use other tools like wrenches and screwdrivers to achieve the same.

Follow the steps below to break a lock with a hammer without fuss.

Step 1: Preparations

Gather the necessary tools for the task — a hammer and safety gear.

There are two potential injuries that you may sustain in this activity; the impact of the flying objects on your eyes and that of a stray hammer on your hand. So, have on your safety gear before you get started.

Step 2: Pull Up the Lock’s Shackle With a Hammer

Insert any two fingers you’re comfortable with into the shackle loop and force the shackle from the top of the lock. That way, the locking pins (inside the lock) align themselves well making the crack job convenient.

Alternatively, you may place a crowbar on top of the lock and unleash brute force on the crowbar with a hammer until the lock flings open. (1)

crowbar on top of the lock
Video | BosnianBill


Eliminate all slack or leeway in the shackle. Otherwise, the lock won’t break no matter how strongly you knock the lock.

Avoid grabbing the lock’s body section to get a space to hammer.

Step 3: Tap the Side of the Lock Repeatedly

Now, target the side with the fixed end of the shackle. That’s where the pin is located from the inside.

With quick and short strikes, pound the lock multiple times. This action disengages enough pins to bump the lock open.

tapping the side of the lock with a hammer
Video | BosnianBill


Resist the temptation to swing for the fences. The pins must constantly move or disengage to override the lock, not brute pressure. Teeing up can only harm you.

Step 4: Repurposing the Lock

Depending on the lock’s status, you can repurpose or reuse it. You can reuse the lock if it is still usable — that’s when the pins inside the lock are still intact; however, fasten it well first. Otherwise, discard it in a scrape collection; maybe you will get a few dollars. (2)

Take a look at some of our related articles below.

(1) brute force –
(2) dollars –

Video References



About Sam Orlovsky

b1d87d2ee85af3e51479df87928bdc88?s=90&d=mm&r=gI realized early on carpentry was a huge passion for me and I’ve stayed in the industry for over 20 years now. This gives me a unique ability to really be able to tell you what the best tools and recommendations are. I’m not only a carpenter but I also like machinery and anything to do with electrics. One of my career paths starting off was as an apprentice electrician so I also have a lot of experience with electrical products and anything related.