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