Baldwin Double Cylinder Dead Bolt Baldwin Model #8021

In eleven years of homeownership,  I don’t recall ever having to deal with it.  . . . But, I got the call.  It was a Friday afternoon and it had snapped flush off.  In the deadbolt.  Which was still locked . . . and yep, six exterior doors on our house, all but one . . . the same key.

Fortunately, I had placed a key to our basement door on her key ring.  I had to remind her of that.  So . . . she did in fact actually make it in.  We said our goodbyes, and I hung up.

Baldwin Dead Bolt Key Broken OffOn my commute home later, we discussed the situation.  . . . “Hmmm. Tape? . . . Gum?” I suggested.

By the time I arrived home, she had tried these things, and some others … nothing so far had worked.  . . . I reached for a set of steak knives (I know I shouldn’t treat our steak knives like that).  My wife grabbed a pair of tweezers.  We went that way, taking turns trying, for about a half an hour.  But we eventually put it down for the evening.


Fast forward about a day . . . this door, the side porch door, opens right into our kitchen.  And staring at it (only after trying with the steak knives for a few more minutes), I decided to take the lock off.  And just about that time – wiping down the counters or something, my wife says, “Now what do we do?“  (*pause*) . . . I said – “Call a Locksmith.”  (*pause*) . . . “Or run it down to the hardware store.”

(*pause*) . . .  (Mind you Clement Hardware, where I purchased my sweet Baldwin locks and really one of the BEST hardware stores I have ever been in . . . ever, is about 45 minutes away. I KNEW they had/have a locksmith on staff.)

Baldwin Dead Bolt DisassembledI calmly ask, “Can you Google ‘How to remove a broken key from a lock’?”

She did.  And she came up with this article:  She proceeded to read from it, out loud, and I listened . . . for the most part.  I heard, “. . . coping saw blade, jig saw blade, . . . tweezers, . . . lock pick set,” and I thought for a moment.  (*pause*) . . . And I headed down into the basement.

When I returned, I had a coping saw blade, which I actually discharged from my coping saw (I had extras), and my needle nose pliers in my hand.

One Way to Remove a Broken Key from a Lock (Building Moxie style)

  • I used the snip cutter section of my needle nose to snip the blade’s end off.  Actually it was a little bit more of a bending (or “braking”) action… and I went back to work on the lock, while holding it in my hand.
  • Broken Key Retracted Baldwin Dead BoltDespite my efforts, and despite what the article suggested, I could not slide the saw blade into the key hole (which was occupied pretty fully by the key). I went at it, standing there, for what felt like fifteen minutes (actually I probably paced a little.  I am known to do that sometimes).
  • I sat down at the kitchen table . . . the TV was on; my wife and I began discussing our dinner plans.  As I alternated my attention from the lock to my wife, I had (almost unconsciously) fashioned one end of the blade into a hook.
  • I placed the hook into a small notch found immediately below the keyhole (I doubt all locksets have this).  It did grab a hold of the key pretty easily, but as before . . .  I could only move the key outward a small fraction of an inch.
  • Again unconsciously, I began spinning the lockset’s “cylinder” around.  It moved pretty freely.  (As I write this, I think to myself that a lock is actually a pretty cool piece of machinery.)
  • Key Chain With a Broken KeyAt about the 45 minute mark (or so it felt), I say, “We’ll just have to have you run it down to Clement sometime next week.”
  • While my brain had given up on the work . . . my hands alone, not yet, they hooked the key one last time.   And as if some hold on the key’s teeth released… the key suddenly popped out a full 1/2 an inch.
  • “Woh!” I chirped.
  • My wife said excitedly, “Did you get it?” (Relieved of course by the thought that an hour-plus round trip drive would be avoided.)
  • I said, “I did.”
  • I reached still with a steady hand for my needle nose and quickly removed the broken key.
  • Later, I re-installed the deadbolt.
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The funny thing is I really am not sure what I did.  But it clicked (or unclicked) almost like magic.  And while I have no real expertise on this subject (as you can see), it actually ended up being a nice opportunity for my wife and I to “work” together.  (Really?  It comes to this . . . after two kids.  Yep!)

… and as I was organizing this post, this little section from the link above caught my eye.  While I really don’t understand fully what it means, I feel it probably did have some bearing . . .

If the broken key shaft won’t budge, the lock may not be in a “neutral” position. The tumblers inside the lock are still holding onto the key shaft. If the lock isn’t in a neutral position, you can probably get it aligned by turning it with your saw blade in the lock.

Thanks for reading and enjoy. ~jb