How Do You Open a Skeleton Key Lock?

Eric Delmar/E+/Getty Images

To open a skeleton key lock without a key, use a tension wrench and short hook to manipulate the lock’s pins into the proper position. This procedure takes under 10 minutes.

  1. Insert the tension wrench

    Slowly insert the tension wrench into the lock, and push it down. Turn the wrench as you would a key. In most cases this means turning the wrench to the right; if that does not work, try the other direction.

  2. Insert the short hook

    Insert the short hook into the lock, and work it as far back as it will go.

  3. Lift the pins

    Pull the short hook until it catches on the first pin. Push the pin up, and listen for a click. When you hear the click or feel the pin snap into place, pull the hook back to the second pin. Repeat this process with all of the pins. Keep the tension wrench inside the lock at all times so the lifted pins stay up.

  4. Turn the handle

    After you lift the last pin into place, remove the short hook. Keep the tension wrench in place. Turn the doorknob; if it turns, the lock is open. If the doorknob does not turn, reinsert the short hook and check for missed pins. Lift them up until they click, then turn the doorknob again.