How to Drill Out a Commercial Lock

Understanding Commercial Locks

When delving into the realm of commercial locks, it’s essential to comprehend the various types available in the market. Commercial locks are designed to offer heightened security and durability, catering to the unique needs of businesses, institutions, and industrial facilities. These locks often differ from residential locks in terms of construction, complexity, and level of protection they provide.

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Types of Commercial Locks

  1. Mortise Locks: Commonly found in commercial buildings, mortise locks are robust and offer excellent security. They feature a heavy-duty lock body installed within the door, making them highly resistant to forced entry.
  2. Cylinder Locks: Also known as rim locks or cylindrical locks, these are prevalent in commercial settings due to their simplicity and effectiveness. They consist of a cylindrical body that houses the locking mechanism and is mounted on the surface of the door.
  3. Deadbolt Locks: Widely regarded as one of the most secure types of locks, deadbolts are frequently used in commercial properties. They feature a solid metal bolt that extends into the door frame, providing superior resistance against forced entry attempts.
  4. Keyless Entry Systems: With the advent of modern technology, keyless entry systems have become increasingly popular in commercial environments. These systems utilize electronic components such as keypads, card readers, or biometric scanners to grant access, offering convenience and enhanced security.

Reasons for Drilling Out a Lock

Drilling out a lock is often a last resort when conventional methods of unlocking or bypassing the lock have failed. Several scenarios may necessitate drilling out a lock, each stemming from different circumstances and requirements:

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Emergency Situations

  1. Lost Keys: In cases where keys are lost or misplaced, and there is an urgent need for access, drilling out the lock may be the quickest solution to regain entry.

Security Concerns

  1. Lock Malfunction: If a lock malfunctions or becomes jammed due to mechanical issues, drilling it out may be necessary to restore access and security.
  2. Burglary or Vandalism: In situations where there has been a break-in attempt or evidence of tampering with the lock, drilling it out may be required to assess the extent of the damage and replace compromised components.

Lock Replacement or Upgrade

  1. Lock Replacement: When replacing an old or damaged lock with a new one, drilling out the existing lock may be necessary to remove it from the door.
  2. Upgrading Security: Upgrading to a more secure lock system may entail removing the existing lock through drilling to install the new one.

Legal or Administrative Requirements

  1. Forensic Examination: In forensic investigations or legal proceedings, drilling out a lock may be necessary to preserve evidence or gain access to secure areas for examination.

In each of these scenarios, drilling out a lock should be approached with caution and preferably carried out by a trained professional locksmith to minimize damage and ensure the safety and security of the premises.

Tools and Materials Needed

Drilling out a commercial lock requires specific tools and materials to safely and effectively remove the lock without causing unnecessary damage to the door or surrounding components. Here are the essential tools and materials needed for the task:


  1. Power Drill: A high-quality power drill equipped with variable speed settings and a reliable chuck is essential for drilling out the lock.
  2. Drill Bits: Select drill bits of appropriate size and type for the lock being drilled. High-speed steel (HSS) or cobalt drill bits are commonly used for metal surfaces.
  3. Center Punch: A center punch is used to create a starting point for drilling and helps prevent the drill bit from wandering off-center.
  4. Hammer: A hammer is used in conjunction with the center punch to create an indentation at the desired drilling point.
  5. Screw Extractor (Optional): In cases where the lock has removable screws, a screw extractor may be needed to remove them before drilling.


  1. Safety Gear: Safety goggles, gloves, and ear protection are essential to protect against potential hazards associated with drilling metal.
  2. Lubricant: Applying a lubricant, such as WD-40 or cutting oil, to the drilling area can help reduce friction and prolong the life of the drill bits.
  3. Replacement Lock: Have a replacement lock on hand to install once the existing lock has been removed. Ensure the new lock is compatible with the door and meets the security requirements.
  4. Optional: Masking Tape or Painter’s Tape: Tape can be used to protect the surrounding door surface from scratches or damage during the drilling process.

Preparation Steps

Before proceeding with drilling out a commercial lock, it’s crucial to take necessary preparation steps to ensure safety and effectiveness. Here’s what you need to do:

Preparation Steps:

  1. Assess the Situation: Evaluate the condition of the lock and surrounding area to determine if drilling is the best course of action. Consider factors such as the type of lock, accessibility, and potential risks of damage.
  2. Secure the Area: Clear the area around the lock and ensure there are no obstructions that could interfere with the drilling process. Remove any items or debris that may hinder access to the lock.
  3. Gather Tools and Materials: Assemble all the required tools and materials listed earlier, including the power drill, drill bits, center punch, hammer, safety gear, lubricant, and replacement lock. Having everything organized and readily accessible will streamline the process.
  4. Review Safety Procedures: Familiarize yourself with safety procedures for operating power tools and handling metal surfaces. Wear appropriate safety gear, including goggles, gloves, and ear protection, to protect against potential hazards.
  5. Prepare the Lock: If possible, attempt to extract the lock using conventional methods before resorting to drilling. If the lock has removable screws, use a screwdriver or screw extractor to remove them before drilling.
  6. Secure the Door: Ensure the door is securely anchored or stabilized to prevent movement during the drilling process. Use clamps or braces to hold the door steady if necessary.

By following these preparation steps, you’ll be well-equipped to proceed with drilling out the commercial lock safely and effectively. Taking the time to prepare adequately helps minimize risks and ensures a smoother drilling process overall.

Step-by-Step Drilling Process

When drilling out a commercial lock, it’s essential to follow a systematic process to minimize damage and achieve the desired outcome. Here’s a step-by-step guide to drilling out a commercial lock:

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Step-by-Step Drilling Process:

  1. Mark the Center Point: Use a center punch and hammer to create a small indentation at the center of the lock cylinder. This mark will guide the drill bit and prevent it from slipping off target.
  2. Select the Drill Bit: Choose a drill bit size appropriate for the lock cylinder. Typically, a high-speed steel (HSS) drill bit with a diameter slightly larger than the lock cylinder is suitable for drilling through metal.
  3. Insert the Drill Bit: Insert the selected drill bit into the chuck of a power drill, ensuring it is securely tightened. Make sure the drill is set to rotate in a clockwise direction.
  4. Apply Lubricant: Apply a small amount of lubricant, such as cutting oil or penetrating oil, to the drill bit and lock cylinder. This helps reduce friction and heat buildup during drilling, prolonging the life of the drill bit.
  5. Start Drilling: Position the tip of the drill bit on the center mark created earlier. Hold the drill steady and apply gentle pressure as you begin drilling into the lock cylinder. Start at a slow speed to prevent the drill bit from slipping or wandering off course.
  6. Drill Through the Cylinder: Continue drilling steadily until the drill bit penetrates through the entire length of the lock cylinder. Maintain consistent pressure and speed to ensure smooth, even drilling.
  7. Remove the Lock Cylinder: Once the drill bit has pierced through the lock cylinder, use pliers or a screwdriver to extract the remaining metal fragments and dislodge the cylinder from the door.
  8. Clean the Drill Hole: Remove any debris or metal shavings from the drilled hole using a brush or compressed air. Ensure the drilled area is clean and free of obstructions.
  9. Inspect and Replace: Inspect the drilled hole and surrounding area for any signs of damage. If necessary, replace the lock cylinder with a new one and install it according to manufacturer instructions.

By following this step-by-step drilling process, you can effectively remove a commercial lock cylinder and address security issues as needed. Remember to exercise caution and patience throughout the drilling process to achieve optimal results while minimizing potential damage to the door and surrounding components.

Removing the Lock Cylinder

Removing the lock cylinder is a crucial step in drilling out a commercial lock, as it allows access to the internal mechanisms and facilitates the drilling process. Here’s how to remove the lock cylinder:

Removing the Lock Cylinder:

  1. Access the Lock: Ensure that you have clear access to the lock cylinder from both sides of the door. Remove any decorative plates, trim, or covers that may be concealing the lock mechanism.
  2. Locate Retaining Screws: Look for retaining screws securing the lock cylinder in place. These screws are typically located on the inner side of the door, visible once the outer trim or cover has been removed.
  3. Loosen Retaining Screws: Use a screwdriver to loosen and remove the retaining screws. Depending on the lock design, there may be one or more screws holding the cylinder in place. Keep track of these screws as they will need to be reinstalled later.
  4. Extract the Cylinder: With the retaining screws removed, you can now extract the lock cylinder from the door. Grasp the cylinder firmly and pull it outwards, taking care not to force or damage the surrounding hardware.
  5. Disconnect Actuator Rods (if applicable): In some lock mechanisms, there may be actuator rods connecting the cylinder to other components such as the latch or deadbolt. If present, carefully disconnect these rods from the cylinder before removing it completely.
  6. Inspect the Cylinder: Take a moment to inspect the removed lock cylinder for any signs of damage or wear. This visual inspection can provide valuable insights into the condition of the lock and any potential issues that may have led to the need for drilling.
  7. Secure the Door: Once the cylinder has been removed, ensure that the door is securely closed and immobilized to prevent unwanted access or tampering while the drilling process is underway.

By carefully following these steps, you can safely and effectively remove the lock cylinder from a commercial door, allowing for further access and necessary repairs or modifications. Remember to exercise caution and handle the lock components with care to avoid causing damage to the door or surrounding hardware.

Safety Precautions:

Before proceeding with drilling out a commercial lock, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Here are some key safety precautions to observe:

  1. Protective Gear: Wear appropriate safety gear, including safety glasses and gloves, to protect against debris and sharp edges.
  2. Secure Work Area: Ensure the work area is well-lit and free from clutter to prevent accidents or tripping hazards.
  3. Use of Power Tools: If using power tools such as drills, follow manufacturer instructions and safety guidelines. Keep tools away from children and untrained individuals.
  4. Fire Safety: Be mindful of flammable materials or substances near the work area. Have a fire extinguisher nearby as a precaution.
  5. Proper Ventilation: If drilling indoors, ensure adequate ventilation to disperse dust and fumes generated during the process.


Drilling out a commercial lock is a task that requires careful planning, preparation, and execution. By understanding the reasons for drilling, gathering the necessary tools and materials, and following a systematic drilling process, you can effectively remove a lock cylinder when necessary. Remember to prioritize safety at all times and exercise caution to avoid damage to the door or surrounding hardware. If unsure or uncomfortable with the process, it’s advisable to seek assistance from a professional locksmith who has the expertise and experience to handle the task safely and efficiently. Reach out to 1st Choice Locksmith for Commercial lock installation and repair.


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