How to Open File Cabinet Lock Without a Key
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How to Open File Cabinet Lock Without a Key

|Aug 10, 2022

Life is complicated and unpredictable. Many of us have lost the key to our file cabinet or perhaps never received it. Hence, regardless of the situation, there will be times when you are unable to open file cabinet lock.

If you’ve discovered that you’ve lost your key and can’t open your filing cabinet anymore, don’t panic. There’s still something you can do to get your documents and get everything you need in a little time.

You can open a slim file cabinet or any other locked file box without too many tools. You can open a file cabinet lock by straightening a paperclip, but make a slight curve on one of the ends. Then, hold it in a vertical position and insert it in the keyhole until you “push down” on the pins located in the interior of the lock. A bobby pin can be helpful, too, but it’s trickier.

Although it sounds complicated, it’s very easy and won’t take you more than 5 minutes. This article has a few tips on how to open a file cabinet lock without a key in easy steps, using different tools and methods.

Types of Filling Cabinet Locks

Types of Filling Cabinet Locks

Before learning how to open a file cabinet lock without a key, it’s important to get informed on the different mechanisms of file cabinet locks.

How does a file cabinet lock work? File cabinet locks work in a similar fashion as door locks, as they are mainly composed of tumblers. Once you insert the key into the lock, the teeth are pushed and will roll the tumblers into a different position, depending on the shape the key has. If it’s the correct key, then the tumblers will immediately lock into their “open” position, allowing you to use the key and turn it.

This way, you'll be able to release the lock if it has been set. On the other hand, if the lock is unlocked, you can lock it and can rotate the key to the opposite direction.

Of course, this is only possible if you’re using a lock with a traditional lock. A digital one has a different mechanism and is more complicated to unlock. Sometimes, it’s possible for file cabinet locks to be able to lock different drawers or a single drawer at a time. It depends on the piece of furniture you've purchased.

Now that you know how the basic mechanism of a file cabinet lock works, let's learn how you can pick a lock with a bobby pin or with a paperclip.

How to Pick a Lock With a Bobby Pin

How to Pick a Lock With a Bobby Pin

The first option is to use a bobby pin. Here are the steps you need to follow.

Step one

First, bend the pin back, so it gains a shape similar to an elongated metal wire. Then, insert part of it inside the lock. Make sure that the flat side faces upwards. Then, "bend" the pin's end and push the remaining area of it to the left side. Continue by making a loop out of the other side of your pick.

Step one

Step two

Then, use pliers or your hands to bend one half of a different pin so it looks like a key and makes it uncomplicated for you to push the pins at the same time. The first pin is the “lever,” and the other is the “pick.”

Step three

Next up, insert the bent end of your liver into the keyhole’s bottom area as deeply as you can. Then, turn it as you would with a key. Try both directions if you're not sure of the correct position. Do it until you don't hear a "click." The lever must remain in this position, and you shouldn't apply too much pressure to it. Otherwise, pushing the pins upward will be complicated.

Step four

Step four

The next step is to introduce the pick with a bent end. Move the pick upward and downward. Be aware of your sensations, as they will tell you if the pins have been jammed. If moving the pins is not possible, then you're pressing the lever too much. Try lightening it up.

Step five

Start searching for the jammed pin and push it upward. You should hear a "clicking" sound. Do this again for the other jammed pins. Once you're done with all the pins, you will have opened the lock of your 2-drawer file cabinet.

How to Pick a Lock With a Paperclip

It’s possible to pick an open file cabinet lock with a paperclip. It’s quite easy. As we’ve mentioned in the beginning, you must straighten the paperclip and leave one of the sides with a slight curve. Once you’ve got the correct shape, you can proceed to put the bent end inside the keyhole in a vertical position, as it’ll press down the pins the lock contains in its interior.


Now, you’ll encounter the correct position. Start moving your paper clip to both sides until you notice a “smooth” movement. If you continue moving it in the same way and don’t catch anything, then you’ve encountered the right position.

Now, turn the paperclip until the keyhole rotates into the unlock position, which is typically horizontal, but can be vertical in other locks. Once it does, you can remove the paperclip and open your file cabinet.

After that, you'll be able to unlock the lock easily, allowing you access to the contents of the drawer. Even if you're not familiar with this process, it should take you less than five minutes to get over it. If you’re unable to access the cabinet, then you must start the process again.


This article has described how you can open a file cabinet lock. If you’re interested in acquiring a new file cabinet or other office accessories, we recommend you take a look at our employee purchase program.

We have different pieces of office furniture, including ergonomic desk stools, ergonomic chairs, and electric sit-stand desks for you to build a comfortable workstation that’s appropriate for you to work during continuous hours.

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