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How to rekey a kwikset doorlock or deadbolt

Whether you are a landlord, new homeowner, or just need to rekey several lock for whatever reason, learning how to rekey a lock cylinder can save you both time and money. I recently purchased a property and needed to change out 12 lock cylinders for security reasons. All of the existing lock sets were in fairly good condition so spending a couple hundred dollars for replacements did not seem like such a great idea.

A local locksmith wanted $10 per lock to key them and then I remembered that Lowe’s will do them for $5 each. Off to Lowe’s I went with a bag full of old doorknobs and deadbolts. As I laid the large sack of knobs on the counter top the clerk quickly exclaimed “we are not locksmiths” before I could get a word out of my mouth. He said that they provided this rekeying services to those who purchase new locks and want them all keyed the same. He further explained that the internal components will often corrode and rust, rendering them unusable once taken apart.  I suppose I understand their point of view as their associate would spend a couple hours working on these locks and may possibly destroy one or more of them in the process. It was clear that they were not interested in this job so I moved on.

This kit can be purchased from Amazon or Ebay for around $60

This kit can be purchased from Amazon or Ebay for around $60

While driving home it was evident that I had to make a decision – either pay $120 to have a locksmith do the work or learn a skill that I will be able to use over and over while saving a bit of cash. The decision was obvious so I set out on a journey to learn a new skill. After a bit of research, I got online a purchased a rekeying kit. The kit that I purchased was $60 upfront but I justified the cost, knowing that I will never have to pay a locksmith again or wait for one to arrive. This kit comes with everything needed including including 200 pins, the follower, lock opening tools, and several other bells and whistles. My kit arrived in a few days and I was in business.



Kwikset vs Schlage

Schlage on left, Kwikset on right. Note key top difference at top and different shaft thickness.

Schlage on left, Kwikset on right. Note key top difference at top and different shaft thickness.

Before you get started, it is important to understand the difference between a Kwikset style lock and a schlage lock. Both are styles are commonly sold in the US and on any given house, the installed locks could be one, the other, or a combination of both. This picture shows a clear difference between the two. Also, the Schlage will often have the word “Schlage” stamped at the top. Take a minute to examine your current keys and determine which one your home has.

The process that I am about to describe works for the Kwikset locks only. A Schlage key will not fit into a kwikset cylinder and vice versa. Because of this, it is impossible to key the two the same. Two different manufactures, 2 different style keys. Here is some more information on the difference between the two if you are interested.

Rekeying locks all the same

Your rekeying set has arrived and you are ready to get started. Here are the steps that you need to know in order to successfully rekey your existing locks.

Use the pickle fork to rotate the spindle so that the notch at the bottom is in the straight forward position.

Use the pickle fork to rotate the spindle so that the notch at the bottom is in the straight forward position.

Insert a pickle fork under the spring and push up.

Insert a pickle fork under the spring and push up.

Use your fingers, or a pair of pliers if necessary,  to remove the center spindle after depressing the spring.

Use your fingers, or a pair of pliers if necessary, to remove the center spindle after depressing the spring.

Insert wide end of pickle fork into spindle hole

Insert wide end of pickle fork into spindle hole

Turn knob over and lightly tap bottom of pickle fork against the workbench. Cylinder should pop out.

Turn knob over and lightly tap bottom of pickle fork against the workbench. Cylinder should pop out.

This is what the lock cylinder looks like once removed.

This is what the lock cylinder looks like once removed.

Remove the plug retainer e clip using one end of pickle fork. Work it back and forth until it comes out.

Remove the plug retainer e clip using one end of pickle fork. Work it back and forth until it comes out.

Insert the key and turn slightly to one side. Use large follower tool to push the plug out. Your lock pins will likely drop out. Don't worry.

Insert the key and turn slightly to one side. 
Used large follower tool to push the plug out. Your lock pins will likely drop out. Don’t worry.

Use the provided feeler gauge to decode new key to be used. Kwikset keys have 5 notches, each one corresponding to a pin number.  Write down 5 digit number.

Use the provided feeler gauge to decode new key to be used. Kwikset keys have 5 notches, each one corresponding to a pin number. Write down 5 digit number.

 

Using your code, choose the corresponding pins and drop them into the slots. Note, old pins must first be removed by turning upside down.

Using your code, choose the corresponding pins and drop them into the slots. Note, old pins must first be removed by turning upside down.

Once the plug is reloaded with new pins, insert the key. Pins should be completely flush with the plug surface. If not, check for error.

Once the plug is reloaded with new pins, insert the key. Pins should be completely flush with the plug surface. If not, check for error.

 

Reinsert pug at slight angle into lock cylinder while pushing out follower plug.  Assemble entire lock in reverse order.

Reinsert pug at slight angle into lock cylinder while pushing out follower plug.
Assemble entire lock in reverse order.

What if I do not have a key for my old lock?

remove master pin cover with small screwdriver

remove master pin cover with small screwdriver

If you do not have an existing key you can still rekey the lock. It involved an extra step which is to remove the master pin cover.

This cover is located at the top of the lock cylinder. Simply use a small screwdriver to pop it off. Inside you will find a spring in each slot and a master pin underneath. Dump out all pins by turning upside down. Your lock cylinder plug should now slide out freely from the housing. After you have rekeyed the plug, insert plug at angle and replace master pins followed by springs and the master pin cover.

I didn’t remove the cylinder plug properly, all of my pins and springs flew out. Now what?

No worries. Once you are ready to put your lock cylinder back together, simply remove master pin retainer and replace pins and springs as described in section above.

How do I rekey a deadbolt

Rekeying a deadbolt is actually a much easier process. The keying process is exactly the same except you do not have to remove the spindle and knob to access the cylinder plug. Simply start by removing the exposed e-clip and follow the instructions above exactly the same.

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